As college football fans know well, during big, televised games it’s often flashed on the screen that the game is being watched at U.S. military bases in 175 different countries around the world. At first glance it’s exciting to know that U.S. troops don’t have to miss out on America’s greatest sport while gallantly serving their country.
But given a second pass, the notion is somewhat disturbing. That college football is watched at U.S. military bases around the world signals that our economy-smothering problem of big government extends well beyond Obamacare, TARP, and endless Bridges to Nowhere.
Though conservatives are often loath to admit it, small and limited government is not remotely consistent with U.S. troops stationed around the world. Taking nothing away from the correct belief in peace through strength, it would be nice to hear a defender of the military status quo explain how we’re made safer through our implicit defense of some of the richest nations on earth.
After that, if a strong economy is necessary for maintaining peace through strength, how is our economy strengthened by all the money spent, not to mention human capital expended, on protecting South Korea and Japan? Conservatives properly view government spending as an economic retardant, and since it is, can they honestly say there’s not substantial waste in military expenditures? Can they with a straight face defend the reality that troops in 175 countries watched Notre Dame vs. USC?
All of this came to mind when reading about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony on Benghazi before Congress. Though it should be said up front that the Obama administration handled what happened in Libya horribly, that its YouTube video excuse for the murders was embarrassing, and that Clinton has shamefully avoided addressing the tough questions that the murders have generated, isn’t the real scandal the fact that taxpayers were footing the bill for State Department officials, military support, and a “compound” in Benghazi to begin with?
This writer had never heard of Benghazi before the murderous rioting there, yet the week that Christopher Stevens and three others were tragically killed I remember well a news scroll saying that over $200 million of taxpayer money had been spent on Libya-related activities ever since President Obama’s decision to commit troops (all without any declaration of war) meant to force Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster.
Not asked enough is how our national security was enhanced by having State and Defense officials in Benghazi, and for that matter, in Libya at all. Gadhafi was a horrible man on his best day, but can anyone honestly say with certainty that future Libyan leaders will be a big improvement? After that, it would be nice to know in what ways U.S. national security is enhanced by having troops in dangerous places like the Middle East at all. So yes, it’s scandalous how Hillary Clinton and the feckless Obama administration acted in the aftermath of the Benghazi murders, but it says here the greater scandal is that Americans representing our government were in Benghazi at all.
All of which brings us to the still bubbling “Fast and Furious” scandal. For readers who aren’t familiar with Fast and Furious, its origins very strangely begin with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) working to encourage gun shops near the border of Mexico to sell guns to shady characters.
Very oddly, the ATF encouraged arms sales to criminals in the hope that the guns would reach Mexico in order to essentially strengthen cases against Mexican drug cartels. The sales would also help the ATF identify cartel leaders and gun acquisition techniques. The guns eventually did find their way into Mexico, and one was used to kill a U.S. border agent. Today’s scandal is the inability of lawmakers to get Attorney General Eric Holder and others in the Obama administration to explain what they were thinking.
All of the above is fine as it goes, but not asked enough is why we employ agents to harass drug cartels selling marijuana and presumably other mood altering substances to U.S. consumers who desire them. Why do we care what people do privately, and is this something an allegedly deficit ridden nation should be spending taxpayer dollars on?
Yes, it’s certainly scandalous that guns walked across the border by the ATF have been turned on Americans, and it’s scandalous that Holder isn’t disclosing all that he presumably knows, but the bigger scandal in this writer’s eyes is a less than worthless drug war. Second, implicit in some of the Fast and Furious handwringing is the righteous indignation that gun sales encouraged by the feds killed an American agent. Fine, but as conservatives regularly and correctly remind us, nearly all guns bought for criminal intent are purchased on the black market.
The above is important, because assuming no Fast and Furious, it’s arguable that federal agent Brian Terry is still killed; in this case by a gun purchased illegally. Shame on Holder et al if there was a cover-up, but the bigger shame is the lie promoted by Democrats and Republicans that our federal nannies need to protect us from substances that the incompetents in government deem “illegal.” Put more plainly, absent a very wrongheaded drug war, there aren’t drug cartels for federal bureaucracies desperately seeking a purpose to chase.
About President Obama and the Obama administration, it should be stressed that he’s been a very weak president whose economic interventions turned what should have been a sharp economic recovery into a limp, lifeless one. Obama talked and talks a big game about inheriting a terrible economy, but his interventions in the same awful economy reveal a less than adequate economic mind. Had he done nothing in response to the falling economy he inherited, he’d be presiding over a boom now. In short, Obama’s meddling presidency is the scandal.
Because it is, how sad that Benghazi and Fast and Furious have so many conservatives up in arms. That they are speaks to a movement to some degree blinded by partisanship; so much so here that it misses the real scandal for the fake ones. To get back on message, conservatives must remind themselves that there’s nothing conservative about massive government spending meant to protect the world from harm, and just the same it’s not conservative to empower less than angelic politicians to police what we do privately.