Thursday, October 25, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Work is killing me....
I'm trying to resurrect a dying Criminal Justice program at my new university and teaching five courses simultaneously. I've decided to take a blogging sabbatical until the candidates for President are decided.
I'll stop in and visit your blogs periodically, but probably not leave comments (not even time for a tete-a-tete) unfortunately.
Until then, here are some rewinds (including the previous post):
While looking at the Clinton legacy I promise not to mention Monica Lewinsky or his perjury which led to impeachment; instead, I will only cover the policies of Clinton and their aftermath.
The Clinton Economy. The economy was roaring and the stock market was soaring. Life under Bill Clinton was pretty good wasn’t it?
But, this was the period when financial shenanigans at Global Crossing, Enron, and WorldCom were born. Stocks were trading at unprecedented price-earnings ratios (PERs) . Some stocks sported PERs of 72:1, meaning that investors believed that the company would accrue future earnings of 72 times the real (or current) rate. This was smoke and mirrors – guile in the markets – and complete bullshit. Led by the artful optimism of the Great Deceiver (Clinton) the markets possessed “irrational exuberance” and were massively overpriced…until 2001 when it all came crumbling down. Today, PERs are closer to 10 or 15. Was the market really that good during Clinton? Ask the former workers of Enron or retirees who have struggled while the market has slowly rebounded from the deceit that built that market.
But, didn’t Clinton balance the budget? Didn’t we have surpluses? Yes, we did, until the market collapsed. And, if you want to find the main source of capital used by Clinton to balance the budget, you need look no farther than the US military. Clinton cut 245,000 troops out of the military. If you consider that it costs $60,000 to train, equip, house, and pay one member of the military you save $14.7 BILLION dollars per year in manpower alone. You can add to that a number of military base closures and cuts in new weapons systems. In fact, spending on the US military (compared to GDP) hit its historically lowest point (3%) in 1999 and 2000 under Clinton. By slashing the military any boob can balance the budget, but at what cost? Did our preparedness suffer?
You might claim that we didn’t really need a big military anyway; the Cold War was over. And I would say this is a good point, IF, Bill Clinton hadn’t turned around and deployed the military at a continuously higher rate than all four of the preceding Presidents (I know because I lived through it.) Even GHW Bush, who fought the Gulf War, only focused on that one operation and redeployed most personnel back home shortly after kicking Saddam’s ass. Clinton deployed us, then deployed us again, then again… Clinton chose to spend his dwindling military budgets on perpetual contingency operations rather than manpower and modernization of military weapons. What impact did this have on equipment? I can tell you for a fact that we crashed 8 aircraft at Luke AFB in the course of one year because we didn’t have the spare parts to fix our aircraft. Thanks Bill.
GW Bush took over in 2001 and it cost us more to retool military suppliers. Defense spending had to rise, and the deficit was bound to grow; but at least aircraft crashes (and dead pilots) at Luke AFB stopped. Meanwhile, we were still rebuilding and were unprepared to retaliate in force after being attacked on 9/11, just 8 months after W took office. And what about the military personnel that the Dems are so suddenly supporting?
Constant deployment is tough business. Overdeployment of troops led to low retention rates during Clinton’s administration. Repeated deployments to Saudi Arabia solely to keep Saddam in check; the war for Kosovo (where we still have troops today); countless “meals on wheels” ventures to countless third world countries wore us down. Retention tanked and large reenlistment bonuses sprouted up from the DOD like opium poppies in Afghanistan. Counter-intuitively, retention during GW Bush’s wars is remarkably high. The troops understand the Global War on Terror and the absolute necessity to kill Al-Qaeda. Still, time will wear them down. Soon they will feel that it is someone else’s turn to bear this burden.
In political circles this debate goes on today. Democrats complained that we didn’t send enough troops to Iraq (which would have exacerbated the overdeployment issue), now Democrats complain we are sending too many. We could use a raise in manpower authorizations to offset the personnel deployment tempo (PERSTEMPO).
Some of you might proffer that the easiest way to reduce PERSTEMPO is by leaving Iraq. Afterall, Iraq did not have a working relationship with Al-Qaeda, did it? Clinton thought so . In fact many are finally realizing that Al-Qaeda has operated in Iraq since just after 9-11 following their defeat in Afghanistan. In previous blogs I provided links from the BBC and a Canadian strategic study group that shows Al-Qaeda in Iraq as early as December 2001. Al-Qaeda attacks on 9-11 led to W kicking them out of Afghanistan and their search for a new home. Iran, being Shi’a was a no-go; Iraq being Sunni (though secular) was more palatable…(as some of you are now finding out, and some of us in military antiterrorism already knew).
Speaking of 9-11 – why did we not attack Al-Qaeda before 9/11? Probably because Al-Qaeda was not a threat to us during the Clinton Administration.
Oh wait, we were attacked by Al-Qaeda during the Clinton Administration!!! How many times?
Off the top of my head: The WTC in 1993 (6 killed; 1,042 injured), Mogadishu 1993 (18 killed, remember Blackhawk Down), Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia 1997 (19 killed – some of them my fellow Air Force Security Police), the bombings of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (1998 - hundreds killed), the USS Cole (2000). What did Clinton do…he bombed an aspirin factory in Sudan and blew up a tent in Afghanistan. How very effective!!! You would think that Clinton would have redoubled his effort to find Bin Laden after these attacks, right?
Human Intelligence: Instead, Bill Clinton was so castrated by his liberal leanings that he enacted the “Torricelli Rule”, which prohibited our spies from talking to “bad” people when gathering intelligence information. Hmmm, so how many “good” people do you know that hang out with scumbags? (Hint: None).
So how can these “good” people give us any useful information about the “bad” people? If we had been talking to “bad” people, could we have avoided 9-11?
Take a look at this article from 1997, attend to the section on HUMINT Trouble Spots and The Sleazebags (no, “sleazebags” does not refer to the Clintons unless you consider their policies).
The void in Human Intelligence was growing at a time we were being attacked by Al-Qaeda all over the world. This is the fulcrum upon which Bill Clinton levered away our capabilities to interrupt Al-Qaeda. We paid for that on 9/11.
There is no doubt that Bill is the smarter of the two Clintons. Based on the smoke and mirrors upon which he helped build the economy and demonstrating a complete misunderstanding of all things military, can we really afford to elect the dumb one? Can we?