Oy Vey! Transactional Politics Edition

Apparently the President tried to dun Angela Merkel and Germany for what he thinks are Germany’s unpaid NATO dues.

The Independent reports:

The US President is said to have had an “invoice” printed out outlining the sum estimated by his aides as covering Germany’s unpaid contributions for defence.

Said to be presented during private talks in Washington, the move has been met with criticism from German and Nato officials.

While the figure presented to the Germans was not revealed by either side, Nato countries pledged in 2014 to spend two per cent of their GDP on defence, something only a handful of nations – including the UK, Greece, Poland and Estonia – currently do.

But the bill has been backdated even further to 2002, the year Mrs Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, pledged to spend more on defence.

Mr Trump reportedly instructed aides to calculate how much German spending fell below two per cent over the past 12 years, then added interest.

Estimates suggest the total came to £300bn, with official figures citing the shortfall to be around £250bn plus £50bn in interest added on.

As you might imagine this did not go over well with the Germans.

The bill — handed over during private talks in Washington — was described as “outrageous” by one German minister.

“The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations,” the minister said.

A couple of important points to keep in mind here, which the President and whichever senior advisors he’s listening to on this stuff do not seem to know:

  1. NATO is not a club. It is an alliance. The US does not own it. None of the member states pay due.
  2. Each member state has agreed to dedicate at least 2% of their budgets to defense. The vast majority of NATO member states, including Germany, do not meet this pledge. The US and its NATO allies have spent years working on how to resolve them. While it is still not resolved, progress has been made. That progress is now in jeopardy because of a stupid, dominance* politics stunt like this
  3. There is a very American reason that Germany in particular does not meet its 2% pledge: we taught them not to. That’s right, after WW II as we were working with the Germans to rebuild Germany and then basing significant US forces there during the Cold War, one of the initiatives we spent the most time on was teaching the Germans to think about and use the other, non military forms of National power (diplomatic, information, and economic power). As a result the Germans in 2017 are acculturated and socialized to the concept that they do no need to be and should not be a military power, that they should resort to the use of military power last, and that it should always be through the NATO alliance. We have been very successful in working with the Germans to break the socio-cultural systems that contributed to WW I and WW II so as to keep them from happening again. The downside, if it is one, is that Germany doesn’t get close to its 2% NATO budgetary commitment.

* Just a brief note about these dominance displays from the President and members of his senior staff/some of his senior advisors: if you have to constantly, loudly, and publicly tell everyone that you are tough, you aren’t. What you are is insecure and weak. Chancellor Merkel is the current leader of the free world because the President of the United States has abdicated that responsibility. She’s not scared of the President. The body language during last week’s photo spray in the Oval Office demonstrates that is the case. If anything, it is the other way around. Americans, through the mechanisms of the electoral college, may have decided that it didn’t want a woman as the leader of the free world, but they got that result anyway.

228 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    So Trump is now demanding that other people pay their debts? Hmmm.

    Americans, through the mechanisms of the electoral college, may have decided that it didn’t want a woman as the leader of the free world, but they got that result anyway.

    Nice.

  2. 2
    Tilda Swintons Bald Cap says:

    Americans, through the mechanisms of the electoral college, may have decided that it didn’t want a woman as the leader of the free world, but they got that result anyway.

    Bears repeating.

  3. 3
    trollhattan says:

    Lord deliver us from this boor. We’ll have no allies left before he’s finished. (And Russia doesn’t count. )

  4. 4
    Vance Maverick says:

    So the 2% commitment isn’t a sum to be paid into some account held by NATO or the US — it’s a promise about how the budget will be allocated, while remaining entirely in German hands. Do I have this right? Does the Trump WH get that?

  5. 5
    amk says:

    I am not seeing this in reputed news media. Yet.

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    I may get to my North Korean missile test posts one of these days…

  7. 7
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Vance Maverick: You are correct. There are some funding mechanisms to pay for operations at NATO headquarters outside of Brussels, but the 2% commitment is that every member state will spend at least that much on their country’s defense spending.

    By the NATO Charter and custom the military head of NATO (Supreme Allied Commander Europe/SACEUR) is American – the head of US European Command is double hatted in this roll. The NATO Secretary General position, NATO’s civilian leader, rotates among the other NATO members.

  8. 8
    PPCLI says:

    This might be a good time to remember that Germany sent over 5000 soldiers to fight the Taliban, in response to the 9/11 attack on the US. Because they honored their NATO treaty obligations. They remained there for over a decade. As of 2013, they had registered over 300 casualties, including 57 deaths.

    Merkel showed remarkable restraint in not calling Trump an ungrateful prick. But that’s the kind of self-discipline a genuine leader has.

  9. 9
    cain says:

    Deftly handled by tangelo kid.

  10. 10
    Thoughtful David says:

    How fucking juvenile.

  11. 11
    MomSense says:

    I’m meeting a friend downtown and waiting in my car. Checked balloon juice and my phone showed me all the wifi networks in the area. I might have to knock on doors to find the owner of the “Blazing Saddles” network. I’m thinking we could be friends.

    45 doesn’t know the first thing about diplomacy or alliances. He doesn’t study history or appreciate the complexity of foreign affairs.

    He is the quintessential ugly American.

  12. 12
    debbie says:

    Harry Shearer just made mincemeat out of Trump for presenting a bill to Merkel. Trump couldn’t be more gauche if he tried.

  13. 13
    debbie says:

    @debbie:

    I think all the people he’s ever screwed should show up at the White House and present their bills.

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    @debbie: OMG you mean he isn’t trying?

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @PPCLI: Yep. The only NATO country that has ever invoked Article 5 is the US. And every other NATO country responded in some way to help us.

  16. 16
    MattF says:

    Playing to the peanut gallery. Where’s Clarabell and Princess SummerFall WinterSpring?

  17. 17
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    I recall feeling embarrassed during the Bush II years upon meeting non-Americans. I feel far worse now. Bush was a Statesman by comparison to Dolt 45.

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Andrea Merkel is treating this pretty much as one should always treat a Burser’s Bill from Trump U.

  19. 19
    MattF says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): A statesman with a hint of puke.

  20. 20
    debbie says:

    @aimai:

    That’s my fear.

  21. 21
    WereBear says:

    If only this were actual satire.

  22. 22
    debbie says:

    Has the U.S. contributed its 2%?

  23. 23
    different-church-lady says:

    Wait an ‘effin minute: he presented an invoice to Germany stated in British Pounds?

    Either it was complete cluelessness or some epic trolling over Brexit.

  24. 24
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Just a brief note about these dominance displays from the President and members of his senior staff/some of his senior advisors: if you have to constantly, loudly, and publicly tell everyone that you are tough, you aren’t.

    “Any man who must say, ‘I am the king’ is no true king.” — Tywin Lannister

  25. 25
    DCrefugee says:

    @Vance Maverick: It’s all about the money U.S. defense contractors stand to make from NATO countries…

    That said, trying to get Germany to bolster its military doesn’t seem to be in Putin’s best interest.

    Gee, an incoherent foreign policy from Agent Orange. Whoodathunkit?

  26. 26
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    The cheaper the hood, the gaudier the patter.

  27. 27
    Oatler. says:

    Trump’s “base” ( the ones with US OUT OF UN signs on their property) will cheer and reload the crack pipe.

  28. 28
    Chris T. says:

    @different-church-lady: I imagine it was in $, and The Independent converted to £ instead of €.

  29. 29
    DCrefugee says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Adam, re: U.S. invoking Article 5, when and why?

    TIA…

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @DCrefugee: There’s also the point of “do we REALLY want to encourage the GERMANS to spend more on defense?” How does Poland or Belgium feel about this?

  31. 31

    T is a Putin stooge. The way he is behaving is serving to turn the world against the United States. Who benefits from that? The travel ban, now this.

  32. 32
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: Yes, we spend more than 2% on defense spending.

  33. 33
    Corner Stone says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Andrea Merkel

    Your late night snuff film fantasies starring Andrea Mitchell are starting to shine through.

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @different-church-lady: My guess is it was in dollars and the British press put it into pounds for their readers. I doubt they would have thought to present it in Euros.

  35. 35
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Wait an ‘effin minute: he presented an invoice to Germany stated in British Pounds?

    I think that was the British newspaper’s estimate for the ease of their own British readers.

    Esquire‘s piece has the figure in $, not £.

  36. 36
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Corner Stone: Yeah, I know. It’s Angela. But you’re also right that I can’t get Mrs. Greenspan and her pearl clutching over the “optics” of emails out of my mind. GRRRRR. VDE SMASH!

  37. 37
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Google and the Economist say it was 3.6% last year. More than most, maybe, but not so overwhelmingly huge that Trump has any right to be complaining. How long till his security and T&E costs exceed that percentage?

  38. 38
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @DCrefugee: The real problem with Germany’s military right now is the switch they made about a decade or so ago from a minimum, universal service requirement to an all volunteer force. The transition was smooth, but the results have not necessarily been optimum. The former system allowed one to argue that because everyone had done a minimum, required period of service that you had a reserve that could be recalled to active duty if necessary similar to what the Israelis and some other countries do. As a result the Germans could argue that they didn’t have to spend 2% every year because they had a reserve that could be tapped to get above 2% when necessary.

  39. 39
  40. 40
    Ruckus says:

    @Vance Maverick:

    Does the Trump WH get that?

    I’d bet the list of stuff that they do get is by far the smaller one.
    But to answer your question, which also applies to any political or governmental issue, NO.

  41. 41
    patrick II says:

    She should return with a bill for expenses for their efforts in Afghanistan, and for each family of a German soldier killed or wounded there.

  42. 42
    Eric S. says:

    @DCrefugee: After the September 11 terrorist attacks.

  43. 43
    Ruckus says:

    @MomSense:

    He is the quintessential ugly American.

    He is but he is also making most of the rest of the ugly Americans not look so bad in comparison.

  44. 44
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @DCrefugee: We invoked Article 5 shortly after 9-11.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09.....th-us.html

  45. 45
    germy says:

    A terse Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) snapped at CBS host John Dickerson on Sunday morning, insisting that House Intelligence Committee head Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) did not speak with President Donald Trump about a Russia investigation despite Nunes telling the press he did.

    Appearing on CBS’s Face The Nation, Gowdy — who headed up the most recent investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Benghazi — was asked about the propriety of Nunes speaking with president about the investigation.

    “Has he shown you any of what caused him to suggest that Obama officials doing surveillance captured some Trump campaign associates and unmasked them in the process of investigating?” Dickerson asked.

    After admitting that he hasn’t seen the information Nunes was given, Gowdy insisted that he is just as much in the dark about the intelligence info as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the intelligence committee.

    “I’ll just tell you this,” Gowdy continued. “My understanding is Chairman Nunes briefed the commander-in-chief on matters unrelated to the Russian investigation. So, if that’s a big deal in Washington, then we’ve sunk to a new low.”

  46. 46
    Ruckus says:

    @aimai:

    OMG you mean he isn’t trying?

    Best bit of understatement I’ve ever seen. LOL.

  47. 47
    Ruckus says:

    @different-church-lady:
    The safe bet is complete cluelessness. By about 4 million country miles.

  48. 48
    D58826 says:

    As I said in an earlier thread on this topic, it’s time for the 25th amendment. Pence’s policy positions are as bad as Der Fuhrer’s but at least he is NUTS. And he has some understanding of those policy positions.

  49. 49
    JMG says:

    @germy: Well, to clear up any misunderstand, I’m sure Rep. Nunes will be glad to testify under oath to that effect to his committee.

  50. 50
    D58826 says:

    @germy: And I think I saw an article that Nunes has a Russian/or Russian related business partner. Is there no one in the GOP that isn’t on Putin payroll? Of course if Putin hacked into the RNC like he did the DNC there must be a good b it of blackmail material out there

  51. 51
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    There’s also the point of “do we REALLY want to encourage the GERMANS to spend more on defense?

    Right… kind of like pushing the Japanese to get a nukular arsenal…

  52. 52
    guachi says:

    I’m not seeing how it’s that hard to spend 2% of GDP if, you know, you’ve actually agreed to it.

    And if a country just really, really doesn’t want a larger military or can’t find anything to spend the money on then they could give the money to those NATO countries that do spend over 2%. I’m not doing the math, but I’d bet that the total amount NATO countries spend on defense is 2% of the aggregate GDP simply because of America’s outsized expenditures. Germany could just give the money to us. I don’t think we’d decline

    If the 2% minimum is a dumb idea, it should be scrapped. But until then I find it baffling that countries that agreed to it can’t fulfull their obligation.

  53. 53
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @D58826: Nunes’s wine distributor in Russia is both tied to the Bratva and to Putin. Moreover, Nunes was in (one of) the (at the time) secret meetings with Flynn and the Turkish folks Flynn worked for during the transition.

  54. 54
    Chet Murthy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: ISTR during the reign of The Chimperor a number of articles about how Germany was toying with a rapprochement with Russia, and how that might pull all of Europe closer to Russia. Obama put paid to that in the best way possible: soft power.

  55. 55
    JPL says:

    At least he didn’t ask for the check to be written out to Trump Associates.

  56. 56
    Arclite says:

    The US President is said to have had an “invoice” printed out outlining the sum estimated by his aides as covering Germany’s unpaid contributions for defence.

    It’s like he’s trying to put The Onion out of business.

  57. 57
    Ruckus says:

    I think many here are missing the point.
    It’s hard to have a really good world war if the countries don’t spend enough on their military. And what kind of a leader would drumpf be if he couldn’t have a world war? Not that little middle east debacle that his republican predecessor had, the yooogest, bestest war ever!
    Think I’m making fun? Thinking that no one could be so fucking stupid as to want a world war? Thinking I might be within a chance of hitting something on the head of?

  58. 58
  59. 59
    mai naem mobile says:

    As far as I am concerned a good part of the reason for the mideast refugees streaming into Europe is Dumbya’s excellent Iraq adventure. That follows that Europe is absorbing the cost of all these refugees.and that needs to be taken into consideration when we are talking about the European share of NATO cost.

  60. 60
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @guachi:

    It is my understanding (as always, happy to be corrected by Adam or anyone else more knowledgeable than I) that the “2% of GDP to be spent on defence” is a target to be achieved over a period of some years, not a hard-and-fast imposition for every country. I believe the agreement carefully considered the fact that some countries can meet the 2% goal with relative ease, while it is a tougher budgetary lift for others and would be reached incrementally.

    (Edited for, gods willing, clarity.)

  61. 61
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @guachi: The US is in arrears on its UN dues to the tune of over a billion dollars.

  62. 62
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: That is my understanding.

  63. 63
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: This is true!

  64. 64
  65. 65
    Arclite says:

    On the other hand, it’s irksome that many NATO members don’t meet their spending obligations. It’s their own defense, after all, but they are happy to let the USA do the heavy lifting for them while our infrastructure crumbles.

  66. 66
    Another Scott says:

    Eisenhower complained in 1959 that European countries weren’t paying enough. It’s nothing new, and there are good reasons why they don’t all pay the magical 2% of GDP for their own defense (not for NATO).

    Maybe the 2% number is obsolete, and maybe it has been for a long time.

    As you illustrate, Donnie doesn’t understand how the world works. Weakening American influence through these petulant displays is yet another manifestation.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  67. 67
    boatboy_srq says:

    @different-church-lady: I’m actually surprised payment wasn’t demanded in D-Marks.

  68. 68
    Arclite says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The US is in arrears on its UN dues to the tune of over a billion dollars.

    UN Sec Gen António Guterres should present a bill to Trump. That would be hilarious.

  69. 69
    D58826 says:

    @Ruckus:

    yooogest, bestest war ever!

    Biggerly even then the war to end all wars? NOW that is a legacy worth shooting for (bad pun intended)

  70. 70
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    @germy:

    “… a terse Trey Gowdy…”

    Is he ever anything but terse, uncharming, and assholish?

  71. 71
    cain says:

    @Adam, what’s your thoughts on this The link describes another meeting between Flynn and Turkish authorities where Nunes was in attendance. It is not apparent what was talked about in that meeting as this one is different than the one where Flynn described abducting someone and rendering them to Turkey.

  72. 72
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Arclite: The only time the collective defense provisions of NATO, enshrined in Article 5 of the Atlantic Charter, have been invoked was by the US after 9-11. NATO responded and came to our aid. We have never actually had to come to any NATO member state’s aid as a result of the Atlantic Charter.

    Also, our determination to spend what we spend on defense and not on anything else, as well as the decisions made to cut taxes, twice, while waging two wars (perhaps the only time in history that taxes were ever lowered during a war) are all the result of the US’s dysfunctional and warped domestic politics. We did this to ourselves. Our NATO allies had nothing to do with it.

  73. 73
    Suzanne says:

    @Arclite: Our infrastructure is crumbling for many reasons, the largest of which is that this country would rather give rich dudes a tax cut than fix a public good. It’s not because there is only a set amount of resources and the military needs it all.

    Then there are places like Arizona, where roads are scraped and resurfaced if the asphalt gets more than three cracks in it. Because driving in privately-owned automobiles is a sign of one’s virtue.

  74. 74
    Arclite says:

    @Another Scott: Russia, the major threat to European NATO countries, spends over 5% GDP on defense spending. And they’ve been aggressively using said military for the past decade. 2% still sounds relevant to me.

  75. 75
    boatboy_srq says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: This IS tRump and the rest of the tRumpery we’re discussing: it’s quite believable they got the currency wrong.

  76. 76
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @D58826:

    Of course if Putin hacked into the RNC like he did the DNC there must be a good bit of blackmail material out there…

    I have a hard time not believing that to be true… the DNC got blasted by the Russians during the campaigns but the GOP? Silence… and didn’t Comey didn’t say the RNC got hacked too?

    I’ve wondered why Republicans went along w/ running Trump when some of what’s now known was around last summer… some people were screaming about this in July, August, etc and too many were not listening…

  77. 77
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @cain: I saw it. I have no reason to believe the original reporting is not correct. As with the other things about Congressman Nunes it is both concerning and disturbing.

  78. 78
    GregB says:

    Thank God we have restored honor to the White House and the US is no longer looked at with such disrespect.

  79. 79
    Josie says:

    Americans, through the mechanisms of the electoral college, may have decided that it didn’t want a woman as the leader of the free world, but they got that result anyway.

    Thanks, Adam, for this. I had not seen the situation from this angle before, and it gives me some quiet satisfaction.

  80. 80
    Arclite says:

    @Adam L Silverman: We cut taxes during WW2? Because we haven’t been at war since then.

  81. 81
    ET says:

    Swear to God. I hope our next president is up to years of repairing our relationship with our ALLIES. Trump & Co are going to get a major change in the international world that they wanted but I don’t think it will be what they wanted.

  82. 82
    boatboy_srq says:

    @mai naem mobile: Ditto amk. PRECISELY this. Dick and George’s (Not So) Excellent Adventure had ramifications far beyond what their tiny neoconservatist brains could imagine. And 16 years afterward the US has leadership that makes them look like intellectual giants, capable statesmen and compassionate leaders.

  83. 83
    Ruckus says:

    @D58826:
    What I wrote sounds like a joke. But this entire maladministration is a joke. Not a funny one, not in any way, but it is a joke. So my question really is, “What is the end game here for drumpf?” He always has a goal, it’s probably a stupid goal, one that he will never reach, one that everyone else would go – WTF, but a goal none the less. What’s his goal here? Why did he actually run? To make nice with his russian mob money bosses? Likely. To finally, finally get to be the BMOE that he’s wanted to be his entire life? I’m going for the long odds, stupidest, most unrealistic answer, a 70 yrs of loser stink shower that will cost the entire planet.

  84. 84
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Arclite: The Russians can’t sustain that, which is why they’ve recently made massive cuts. And for all the money they’ve spent, what they’ve gotten is a conventional force that is, essentially, useless. Their one aircraft carrier has limped into dry dock, where it will remain while they try to retrofit it for the next 3 to 5 years. They have little manpower or financial ability to mount any sort of conventional campaign. What they have is a large nuclear deterrent and their quite effective hybrid warfare cyber and information capabilities.

  85. 85
    Renie says:

    If Nunes is connected to Russian interests and was on Trump’s transition team who was the genius who put him in charge of the investigation?

  86. 86
    Jay C says:

    I wonder which of the Trump Brain Trust’s brilliant minds came up with this PR gem of a “German Defense Invoice”? The Talking Yam himself (if his attention could be spared from watching golf)?

    I mean, it will probably appeal to the segment of Trump’s “base” for whom “pissing off foreigners” is in and of itself the best and worthiest goal of the US’ international policy; but otherwise merely makes the President (and, by extension, the country) look like fools.

  87. 87
    D58826 says:

    @Adam L Silverman: And a chuck of the defense budget goes to defend places like Japan, S. Korea, the middle east, etc. In the case of Japan it also was intended to dampen their warrior spirit and keep them from going nuclear. We spend what we spend for OUR interests. NATO just happens to be in OUR interests

  88. 88
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    This IS tRump and the rest of the tRumpery we’re discussing: it’s quite believable they got the currency wrong.

    This is true, but I don’t think their default would be British currency. All those confusing shillings and ‘arf-crowns and thruppenny bits and all….

  89. 89
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @D58826: @Thru the Looking Glass…: The Russians did hack the RNC, as well as specific Republican officials. I covered this back in December in one of the Maskirovka posts. Specifically that this was my real fear – not that they’d compromised the Democrats, that was bad enough. But that they’d also compromised the Republicans too, but were withholding that information and material as explicit and implicit leverage. Shortly after I hit publish on that post, which reflected something I’d been thinking about for about six months and had mentioned to several friends and colleagues, the NY Times reported that this had indeed happened.

    Here’s the link to that post:
    https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/12/10/the-maskirovka-slips-viii-my-real-fear/

  90. 90
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Renie: Doesn’t Paul Ryan as Speaker have say on who goes on what House Committee?

  91. 91
    Another Scott says:

    @Arclite: Dunno. It sounds like a quick way to do ballpark comparisons to me, not a metric of “spending enough/not-enough”.

    E.g. I don’t think Germany would suddenly be a more formidable military, or NATO would be stronger, if they gave everyone in the service a 50% raise…

    FWIW.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  92. 92
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Arclite: If we weren’t so intent on allowing the .01% to concentrate even more of the nation’s wealth in their Cayman Island accounts, we could be spending a lot more on infrastructure, but that would be bad, as poor people might benefit from it.

  93. 93
    lamh36 says:

    I’m sure this is already posted, but ICYMI:

    Ted Koeppel…G.O.A.T.

    Koeppel to Sean KKKLannity… “you are bad for America”

    Ya’ll know Brokaw phoney azz would nevah

    https://twitter.com/imraansiddiqi/status/846063811882725376

  94. 94
    D58826 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    What they have is a large nuclear deterrent and their quite effective hybrid warfare cyber and information capabilities.

    And best of all, an adversary that has no idea what it is doing and is now afraid of it’s own shadow. I’m sure Putin would be more than happy to invest in a ship load of shovels if it would help Trump dig that hole faster and deeper

  95. 95
    Ruckus says:

    @Arclite:
    I’m sorry, have you been asleep for the last 16 yrs? Whatever we called GWB’s little misadventure in the middle east, it was a fucking war. You don’t believe me, ask the over 5000 dead American military.
    It was a fucking war.
    And GWB got a tax cut, for the rich. He didn’t try to pay for his war, he tried to hid it off the books, 2 trillion if I remember correctly.

  96. 96
    Doug R says:

    @Ruckus: I wonder if Trump really just wants the lifetime secret service protection to protect from his Russian sharks?

  97. 97
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Arclite: I’m the resident smartass in my posts! Get your own schtick! Yes, yes, technically you are correct, we have not formally declared war since WW II. The reality, however, is that both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are wars. And we cut taxes twice during the Bush 43 Administration while we were fighting them.

  98. 98
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @lamh36: Hannity, being the Backpfeifengesicht icon that he is, kept trying to talk over Koppel until Miss Manners came on set and whacked Hannity with a tire iron.

  99. 99
    Tokyokie says:

    Trump’s interpretation of Teddy Roosevelt: Speak loudly and carry no stick at all.

  100. 100
    catclub says:

    @Vance Maverick:

    Do I have this right? Does the Trump WH get that?

    1. Yes.
    2. No.

  101. 101
    Another Scott says:

    @Arclite: The “Small Wars Manual” that Adam posted a few months ago had an interesting statistic:

    During about 85 of the last 100 years [since 1940], the Marine Corps has been engaged in small wars in different parts of the world. The Marine Corps has landed troops 180 times in 37 countries from 1800 to 1934. Every year during the past 36 years since the Spanish-American War, the Marine Corps has been engaged in active operations in the field. In 1929 the Marine Corps had two thirds of its personnel employed on expeditionary or other foreign or sea duty outside of the continental limits of the United States.

    Our military has gotten a workout outside of “Wars” for a very long time…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  102. 102
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @D58826:

    We spend what we spend for OUR interests. NATO just happens to be in OUR interests

    Which is why we have a problem here. Donald’s understanding of grand strategy is as keen as his understanding of health care.

  103. 103
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    And when the GOP pointed to the horrors of the high tax rates back in the 1950s, it was because the country used to be responsible enough to pay back their debts.

  104. 104
    D58826 says:

    @Adam L Silverman: LBJ was dragged kicking and screaming but even he raised taxes to pay for Vietnam. The term guns vs butter was worn out during that period.

  105. 105
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): It’s almost as if comparing him to Draco Malfoy is an insult…to Draco Malfoy.

  106. 106
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yeaaaaah… you did…

    I remember Reince claiming that the GOP didn’t get hacked by the Russians at one point…

    Suuuuuuuure, Reince… i believe THAT

    (I was friends w/ a 6 yr old girl years ago and when you tried to BS her about something, she’d look at you w/ this deadpan stare and say that… devastating…)

    I’ve wondered since last summer, when this Russian business started cropping up more and more, why it wasn’t being taken more seriously… and now we’re at a point where people are starting to call the WH the Western Kremlin…

  107. 107
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @D58826: Without a doubt.

  108. 108
    amk says:

    @Arclite:

    Go read the definition of war first.

    And then history since ww2.

  109. 109
    WaterGirl says:

    @debbie: This is what I love about BJ. That was my thought exactly!

  110. 110
    Ruckus says:

    @Doug R:
    I thought that early on but while it is possible, think of his ego. Don’t think too hard that will make you sick or hurt yourself laughing, but his ego is a lot more broken than I’ve got to protect myself, and he already does that. So what else is there?

  111. 111
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @debbie: Weren’t the tax rates in the 50’s, as high as 90% on the very top brackets, meant to pay off the WW II debts? Pay off the war bonds?

  112. 112
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Thru the Looking Glass…: Yes. From what I’ve seen Congressman Nunes, who’s professional background – farmer/rancher from the Fresno, CA are with three degrees in agriculture – would in any way, shape, or form make sense for him to be on the Intel Committee, let alone chair, apparently lobbied (pestered) Speaker Ryan hard to make him chair.

    My professional take is that this much coincidence takes a lot of planning.

  113. 113
    D58826 says:

    @Another Scott: for a ‘peace loving nation’ it is amazing how many times we have been engaged in activities that can be defined as ‘war’. Whether it was stealing the land of the native Americans, Mexicans and Spanish in the 19th century, to the number of interventions in Central America and the Caribbean in the 20th. If I remember my not covered in history class correctly, the US was part of an expeditionary force sent to Russia on the side of the Whites during the Russian civil war Russians in 1919-1920.

  114. 114
    Jay C says:

    @Jay C:

    Never mind, I read it was supposedly Steve Bannon,

    Big surprise….

  115. 115
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @guachi:

    If the 2% minimum is a dumb idea, it should be scrapped. But until then I find it baffling that countries that agreed to it can’t fulfull their obligation.

    Do you think it is because when these governments come back to their home countries, and reality, they get told by the people that they get elected by that there are far more important priorities than buying overpriced toys for overage boys to play with for a few years before they become obsolete?

    The military is just not that important to us here in Canada. The only invaders we have to fear is the US, and there is nothing [outside of obtaining nukes] we can do to prevent you from invading us.

  116. 116
    moops says:

    It was childish. I also think it is a valid point to make right now. Germany needs to up it’s military and has been lagging, badly. Putin is an adventuresome douchebag. A beefed up NATO could move against eastern adventurism way more effectively than the US, which is currently in a rather compromised white-supremacist man-crush with Putin. A beefed up EU also makes a military build-up in the US more pointless.

    The US is way more at risk of falling under Nazi fascists than Germany at this point. Let them have the guns.

  117. 117
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Incident one: Happenstance. Incident two: Coincidence. Incident three: Enemy Action.

  118. 118
    boatboy_srq says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Consider that the last field trip Hair Furor went on was up to his golf course in Scotland. Assuming he paid for anything, he’d have paid in sterling.

  119. 119
    Yarrow says:

    Since we’re talking about bills and who paid what and so forth, this seems somewhat relevant:

    As I've been saying, in terms of sheer $, Trump-China is 10X bigger than Trump-Russia @AttorneyMal @LouiseMensch https://t.co/Wf2xokDJCQ— Adam Khan (@Khanoisseur) March 25, 2017

    Follow the money.

  120. 120
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    One aspect of this “up your defense spending” thing is that it wouldn’t necessarily benefit US defense contractors. Germany, for example, makes its own armored vehicles and logistics support vehicles, along with France provides most of its own tactical airframes, builds its own ships. There may be some benefit to folks like General Dynamics with parts and GE with jet engines, but most of the work is done in the Eurozone.

  121. 121
    D58826 says:

    @Adam L Silverman: It never made any sense that Putin would go to all of that trouble JUST to hack the DNC. And it never made any sense that the RNC was THAT good at protecting it’s data. Hack the RNC, put the info in a vault. Never know when a rainy day will come along that makes having it come in handy

  122. 122
    HeleninEire says:

    So one of my first friends here in Dublin was David. He’s a waiter in the restaurant around the corner from me. I love him. He is one of the many people here who made me feel right at home. He is from South Africa and met his Irish boyfriend there 8 yes ago when he (the boyfriend) was traveling for business. So 3 years ago David moved here. So David tells me tonight that he and Jonathan are engaged.

    Yay. I assumed that they are gonna do it here but then he tells me that they are gonna do it in South Africa. For a second I was like, what? But then it occurred to me that the US was one of the last countries to allow same sex marriage and South Africa was one on the first.

    Anyway that’s my ridiculously long post to say YAY DAVID AND JONATHAN and Hey guys I’m going to South Africa next year!!

  123. 123
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Thru the Looking Glass…: I am thinking of that skit in SNL where Putin, claiming to be Wolf Blitzer, holds up a VCR tape that says “PEE Tapes” and asks Trump(Alec Baldwin) was the Russians REALLY interfering in the US elections? J Edgar Hoover had card system on every powerful figure in Washington DC, but had it destroyed on his death, I bet Putin releases his long before his just to stir the drink in the next election.

  124. 124
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    there is nothing [outside of obtaining nukes] we can do to prevent you from invading us.

    The powers of Tim Horton’s, backbacon, toques, and Moulson should not be forgotten.

  125. 125
    WaterGirl says:

    Do you guys remember the Sorry, Everybody website that went up after W. was elected in 2004? People all over the country made signs and took photos of themselves holding signs apologizing to the rest of the world for the 2004 election results.

  126. 126
    JPL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: What you said yesterday is key

    Pence is in things up to his eyeballs. He was the one getting the PDBs six days a week during the transition and more regularly than the President during the last couple of months of the campaign. Ryan and McConnell were, as reported, briefed shortly before the election and McConnell told President Obama that if he publicly released the info of Russian involvement that McConnell would cry “interference in the election for partisan gain”. Again: penetration at all levels and significant useful idiots who were pursuing their own agendas and power.

    It’s not in the parties interest to have an honest assessment about Russian interference in our election. Make the Party Great again and f.k everyone else.

  127. 127
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Another Scott: The US military is, by design, expeditionary. The forward/overseas basing is part of that intentional design. In the case of what you’ve cited/referenced from The Small Wars Manual what you’re seeing is that historically, until they were purposefully developed in each Service, the US’s special forces were the Marines. They were a specialized service of Sea Soldiers with a small footprint, who were expeditionary and agile. We used them like we use Green Berets and Rangers and SeALs and Civil Affairs.

  128. 128
    JPL says:

    @HeleninEire: Sweet! Send my congrats.

  129. 129
    raven says:

    @Another Scott: The Banana Marines!

  130. 130
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: Yep.

  131. 131
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @D58826: Also Yep!

  132. 132
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: looking forward to that…for the life of me, I can’t see how we’ll be able to keep NK from having a ridiculous number of nukes and the icbms to deliver them. They don’t want to be the next Iraq or Iran

  133. 133
    PJ says:

    @D58826: The Allied invasion started in 1918. My understanding is that, by defeating the Bolsheviks, the Allies wanted to try to get the Russians back in the war, which was never going to happen. My understanding is that all the invasion accomplished was to make the Soviets more suspicious of Western motives in the future (i.e., evidence to fuel their fear after WWII that NATO would invade the Soviet Empire.)

  134. 134
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Thru the Looking Glass…: Yes they were.

  135. 135
    Baud says:

    @WaterGirl:

    People all over the country made signs and took photos of themselves holding signs apologizing to the rest of the world for the 2004 election results.

    That was actually a worse election than this one because Bush did win the popular vote.

  136. 136
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @D58826: At last count, there’s only been about ten or fifteen years total when we have not been engaged in combat operations somewhere. And that usually ignores internal use of the US military against Native Americans.

  137. 137
    Citizen_X says:

    I’m still wondering how on Earth Merkel reacted when Trump pulled this nonsense. “Vat is dis, Donald, a joke?”

  138. 138
    Joyce H says:

    I wish every contractor Trump ever stiffed would send him an invoice. CC: the Washington Post, the New York Times, the RNC, etc – remind the world that this toxic clown is a deadbeat.

  139. 139
    Arclite says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Russia can’t project power very well, but that’s not their actual goal. They won’t bother retrofitting the Kuznetsov.
    They want to bully their neighbors, and their military is designed to do just that: a massive land army with a focus on armor and A2/AD. See Georgia, Chechen, and now Ukraine.
    Once Ukraine is resolved, they’ll set their sights on the Baltic states with the goal of reconnecting Kaliningrad with the rest of the country, just like they “reclaimed” Crimea.
    And as you say, it will be done in a hybrid fashion, but with the backing of one of the world’s most powerful land armies.

    As for their excellent adventure in Syria, that was basically just to demonstrate weapons capability to the world market in order to drum up sales.

  140. 140
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NorthLeft12: What about an itchy wool based defense? Buffalo check plaid is one thing. Itchy wool buffalo check plaid not so much!

    In all seriousness, you all have a great military and our great allies and partners. I’ve had the honor and privilege of being the professor of one of your colonels, now a brigadier general, having another of your brigadiers by my Deputy Commander, and providing support for a third.

  141. 141
    Arclite says:

    @Jay C:

    I wonder which of the Trump Brain Trust’s brilliant minds came up with this PR gem of a “German Defense Invoice”?

    Has Bannon’s fingerprints all over it.

  142. 142
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @moops: I would argue the increases, as a forcing function for an increased multinational approach through NATO, should really focus right now in the Cyber, Information, and Psychological Operation realms. Conventionally Russia is not a formidable threat. Their hybrid warfare/Gerasimov doctrine is a very formidable threat.
    https://inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/the-gerasimov-doctrine-and-russian-non-linear-war/
    http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/Mi.....art009.pdf

  143. 143
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Arclite:

    @Adam L Silverman: We cut taxes during WW2? Because we haven’t been at war since then.

    I’m trying to figure out whether you’re trolling, or merely too stupid for words. My guess is you’ve got just enough brain cells for trolling.

  144. 144
    Ruckus says:

    @NorthLeft12:
    Also a lot of the NATO countries are not really all that big. They could spend 10% of GDP and it wouldn’t purchase a lot, at least not compared to what we do. Also as pointed out up thread a lot of the money we spend is for defense of our allies and that does benefit us. Maybe not all directly but we do benefit. A world at war is not a good place to live and money can’t hide you very well from that. I believe that most of the “war is good” assholes have no idea how small the world has become and how interconnected it really is. Good or bad, like it or not, the rest of the world has recovered from WWII (and Vietnam) and has grown with technology, to be competitors, not subjects in living on this rock. (OK there are a few holdouts, but they are conspicuous because they stand out) We can join in (which we mostly have) or we can destroy it all, which is one real possibility from this maladministration. Those that think, we are the greatest nation by far and we always will be have never studied history and possibly are way too in love with their mirrors, which are about as truthful as drumpf.

  145. 145
    Arclite says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Certainly our infrastructure issues are multifaceted. But at this point, the EU can defend itself, if it would allocate the funds. We could mostly withdraw except for a token force. That treasure could be better spent.

  146. 146
    efgoldman says:

    @PPCLI:

    Merkel showed remarkable restraint in not calling Trump an ungrateful prick. But that’s the kind of self-discipline a genuine leader has.

    Late to the thread, but…
    ‘Fie wuz Merkel, I’d load up several 45’ trailer containers with pfennigs, and have them dropped on the fairways at Mar-A-Loser.
    But I’m an awful human being.

  147. 147
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yep, as I mentioned a couple if times in other posts last week.

  148. 148
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Does ‘diplomacy’ have an antonym? Because if it does, that’s the appropriate word to describe this fake bill.

    Can’t exclude ‘tacky’ and ‘juvenile,’ though.

  149. 149
    Arclite says:

    @Ruckus: Please show me the declaration of war.

  150. 150
    Butthurt Jordan Trombone (fka XTPD) says:

    @efgoldman: Yes you are, as am I.

  151. 151
    El Caganer says:

    @Tokyokie: Speak loudly and wave tiny hands?

  152. 152
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Arclite: Yep, but a concerted push back could check their Land Power. Their conventional Army isn’t very good and they have resourcing problem. They will continue to rely on Little Green Men.

  153. 153
    guachi says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    Do you think it is because when these governments come back to their home countries, and reality, they get told by the people that they get elected by that there are far more important priorities than buying overpriced toys for overage boys to play with for a few years before they become obsolete?

    So then you’re saying those countries who agreed to spend 2% of their GDP on defense were outright lying when they agreed to it?

    If your country is a part of NATO and doesn’t want to spend its required 2% on defense then the thing to do is either (a) change the requirement or (b) leave NATO. Frankly, I don’t give a shit if you think the money goes to “overpriced toys for overage boys”.

    If the 2% isn’t a requirement but some kind of vague goal then it was pointless to agree to it in the first place. It’s a meaningless agreement if it has no teeth.

  154. 154
    Ruckus says:

    @Arclite:

    Has Bannon’s fingerprints all over it.

    Ewwww……. And can we get those run through the Interpol database? Who knows what might pop up?

  155. 155
    Arclite says:

    @moops: Right, and not just Germany, most of the NATO nations. The EU has a GDP equivalent to ours, and they have excellent working relationships. They can afford their own defense with our minimal involvement. And, yes, it is very important that we stay involved.

  156. 156
    Miss Bianca says:

    Is this where I get to say, “what fresh hell is this?”

  157. 157
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Arclite: The US hasn’t had a formal declared war since WWII. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t engage in pretty large scale military combat operations in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan, along with air campaigns and such in various places such as the former Yugoslavia. Combat patches for everyone who was unfortunate enough to be deployed!

  158. 158
    D58826 says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Unless you have an interest in the subject Americans simply have no idea of the advantages that two large oceans to the east and west as well as two very weak non-threatening countries to the north and south have given us. Other than the relatively small scale military operations of the Revolution, the Civil War is the only one in which the horrors of full out industrial warfare have been seen on our shores. And even then it was mostly confined to the south. Photos of 1865 Richmond look just like 1946 Berlin. As bad as 9/11 was, the Russians lost that many civilians, if not more, every day between June 1940 and May 1945.

    In addition except for the year without summer (1815-1816), the early years of the post-civil war south and maybe a local crop failure here and there we have never know widespread famine like the Irish potato famine or the famine in 1930’s Russia. I realize that those two examples were largely driven by the actions of local leaders but the hunger was still real.

  159. 159
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Miss Bianca: Knock yourself out.

  160. 160

    @Adam L Silverman:

    perhaps the only time in history that taxes were ever lowered during a war

    KThug will back you up on that one, he made that observation on the old Al Franken Show.

  161. 161
    dm says:

    Sorry to be so rude as to just pop into a conversation (well, I have read most of the thread), but: A wave of anti-corruption demonstrations sweeps Russia.

    MOSCOW — A wave of unsanctioned rallies swept across Russia on Sunday to protest corruption in the government of President Vladi­mir Putin, in a nationwide show of defiance not seen in years, and one the Kremlin had tried in vain to prevent with bans and warnings.

    Too angry to be cowed, they poured into the street, fed up with their country’s wide-reaching corruption and a government unwilling, or unable, to stop it. Police responded with barricades, tear gas and mass arrests in cities across Russia.

    By Sunday evening, riot police in body armor and helmets hauled in more than 700 demonstrators in central Moscow, as the crowd, numbering in the tens of thousands, cheered and whistled and chanted, “Shame! Shame!” As night fell, a group of protesters in Moscow clashed with police, and at least one officer was hospitalized with head trauma, the Meduza news agency reported.

    One of the first detained in Moscow was the chief architect of the rallies, Alexei Navalny, who called on people to come to protest in the wake of his allegations that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has amassed vineyards, luxury yachts and lavish mansions worth more than $1 billion.

    Thread relevance:

    Instead, the demonstrations appear to amount to the largest coordinated protests in Russia since the street rallies that broke out in 2011 and 2012 after a parliamentary election that opposition leaders decried as fraudulent. Back then, Putin accused Hillary Clinton, secretary of state at the time, of inciting the protests. Sunday there was no such excuse; the White House offered no encouragement.

  162. 162
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @D58826: Yup, this. The vast majority of Americans have no living memory of the desolation of war.

  163. 163
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @D58826: No argument at all.

  164. 164
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: I’ve made it every year since we did it.

  165. 165
    JPL says:

    Manafort is going to be interviewed, not testifying. hmmm Adam Shiff is not going to be happy.

    “This is an interview, not testimony,” Jason Maloni, Manafort’s spokesman, told Yahoo News. A statement by Maloni says only that Manafort is willing to provide information about “recent allegations about Russian interference in the election.” ………………“This is a PR stunt,” said one Senate source familiar with the offer made by Manafort’s lawyer. Although the panel will at some point want to hear from Manafort, the source added, “I doubt this will be on his terms.”

    Yahoo link

  166. 166
    Ruckus says:

    @Arclite:
    Damn, you are stupid. There was question raised above and I overlooked it but now…….
    OK I’ll play along.
    There was no declaration of war. There was a declaration allowing the use of military force, a senator named Clinton voted yes, you might have heard of this over the last few years when she ran for president. But declaration or not there was a fucking war, we started it, we fucked it up majorly, we own it, we will pay for it for decades both monetarily and in world politics and standing. It was and is a war, it was and is ours. If you can’t understand that I’d seek professional help.

  167. 167
    WereBear says:

    Bozo the actual clown could do better than Trump.

  168. 168
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @dm:

    And here’s the video.

    The video’s caption is: “He’s not Dimon to us. “Protest action in Moscow.” And the description below the video is:

    Radio Liberty
    Streamed Live 9 Hours Ago
    In dozens of Russian cities on March 26, anti-corruption protests took place. They involved from several dozen to several thousand people. The rallies took place even in those cities where the authorities officially banned their conduct. Radio Liberty conducted a live broadcast of protest actions.

    In Moscow, the uncoordinated action took place in the format of a walk. According to various sources, eight to 20 thousand people took part in it. The human rights project “OVD-Info” reports more than 600 detainees. The police used force against activists. Despite several injured at the hands of law enforcement officials, in the mayor’s office of Moscow, the police called “impeccable.”
    The Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) in early March published an investigation of the undeclared real estate of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his possible involvement in corruption. The film “He did not give you a Dimon” typed more than 10 million views on YouTube, but neither the Prime Minister nor his representatives responded to the charges, no federal Russian television channel told about the investigation of FBK. In this regard, Navalny appealed to his supporters across Russia on March 26 to go to protest rallies with the demand to investigate information about Medvedev’s real estate.

  169. 169
    dopey-o says:

    @Arclite:

    We cut taxes during WW2? Because we haven’t been at war since then.

    I can’t tell if you’re being dense or stupid. I can tell you that there are the names of 58,000 + Americans who died while on a field trip to southeast asia. If you don’t consider that a war, then you really are a Trump voter.

  170. 170
    PPCLI says:

    @NorthLeft12: Ahem. Speaking as one of those Canadians to whom the military is very important, I’ll register my disagreement. We should meet our commitments. (Or else renegotiate so that — say — cybersecurity could count as the appropriate kinds of expense.)

    And I’m not as sanguine as you about territorial safety. In particular, if we don’t get our act together over the Arctic, Russia will gladly nab it.

  171. 171
    Immanentize says:

    @Tokyokie:

    Trump’s interpretation of Teddy Roosevelt: Speak loudly and carry no stick at all.

    Made me think of this line from “Memo from Turner:”
    I remember you in Hemlock Road
    In nineteen fifty-six
    You were a faggy little leather boy
    With a smaller piece of stick

    And maybe this was written about Trump (and Ivanka) as well:

    You’re the great, gray man whose daughter licks
    Policemen’s buttons clean
    You’re the man who squats behind the man
    Who works the soft machine

    Not perfect, but a timeless critique of these kinds of fools….

  172. 172
    Timurid says:

    One possible explanation for the Mosul disaster… a strike on ISIS vehicles hit either a cargo truck full of munitions or a suicide bomb truck, producing an explosion far larger than planned with whatever weapon they were using.

  173. 173
    Ruckus says:

    @dopey-o:
    Thank you for making me look again. I’ve used 53K as the number, don’t know where I got that but it’s 58,307 names currently.

  174. 174
    NotMax says:

    Ich bin ein Berliner 2.0.

  175. 175
    sukabi says:

    @Arclite: our crumbling infrastructure is the result of congress failing to do it’s job and prioritize infrastructure improvements over tax cuts for the pampered .01%.

    If I recall from several years ago the GAO couldn’t do a proper audit of the DoD or Pentagon because their books were a joke…rated them a d-… Over a trillion dollars not accounted for.

  176. 176
    D58826 says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I would amend that to ‘on the home front’. I’m sure our living WWII vets as well as all of the vets of Korea and thru Iraq are painfully aware of the destruction of war. They have seen it with their own eyes.

    It had to have been a moral boost to the millions of GI’s in WWII knowing that their families were safe and except for some minor inconveniences over ration stamps well feed. Imagine being a British Tommy serving in India/Burma worrying about whither last night’s air raid in London killed your family or all that food destined to feed your kids wound up on the bottom of the Atlantic due to the U-boats. If the worst your family had to give up was the Sunday afternoon drive due to gas rationing (which was really to reduce the use of the much harder to replace rubber) then your WWII experience wasn’t all that bad. Obviously Gold star families were in a totally different position.

    And let’s not forget that W’s idea of sacrifice on the home front was to go shopping

  177. 177
    Ruckus says:

    @Tokyokie:

    Trump’s interpretation of Teddy Roosevelt: Speak loudly and carry no stick at all.

    Aww the story of his life. Bluster and bully your way through life and ye shall be rewarded.

  178. 178
    Immanentize says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Part of it is probably installing the Trump loyalists — but the other part is the Republican’s ridiculous House rule that they rotate Chairs. It is so stupid, leaving know-nothings at the head of critical Committees at critical moments. Why hasn’t this become a Ryan leadership issue?

  179. 179
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ruckus:

    Bluster and bully your way through life and ye shall be rewarded.

    It works until it doesn’t.

    @Immanentize:

    Why hasn’t this become a Ryan leadership issue?

    It will.

  180. 180
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @D58826: As Adam says, no argument here. Adam has seen the desolation of war up close in Iraq. He’s part of the small minority.

    I might add that the ongoing costs of our military misadventures continue to be borne by every taxpaying American in the form of the care of those we sent into the meatgrinders that were non-declared. See Duckworth, Tammy, for just one example of millions.

  181. 181
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize: Blue eyes and a P90X photoshoot.

  182. 182
    Immanentize says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Hence — “From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”

  183. 183
    efgoldman says:

    @Arclite:

    they are happy to let the USA do the heavy lifting for them while our infrastructure crumbles.

    Those are not related things, except that they are both money.
    The people’s representatives have made this choice. If we don’t like it, we need to elect new representatives.
    But one has nothing to do with the other. They are all discretionary expenditures (unlike social security and medicare.)
    German, France, Belgium, etc are not responsible for our infrastructure any more than the Martians are.

  184. 184
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @JPL: That makes sense. The Intel on the target was correct. What was not known was the people hiding in an adjacent building that was within the blast radius of the target when it was blown up. That the Iraqis, themselves, are coming forward with this is a good sign.

  185. 185
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: And the US is rich enough to fund both if it chooses to do so.

  186. 186
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Immanentize: Yep.

  187. 187
    D58826 says:

    @Immanentize:

    the other part is the Republican’s ridiculous House rule that they rotate Chairs.

    I can actually see some advantage to rotating committee membership/chairmen. I’m old enough to remember a couple of D committee chairmen back in the 50’s who had to be tied in their chair lest they fall over since they were so old. That being said there should be some requirement for time served as a committee member before they can become a chairperson. I know it’s a four letter word in Trump world but expertise is important. I remember when you had critters who specialized in one policy area for most of their career. Sam Nun and Scoop Jackson on defense are two that I remember.

    The same problem arises with term limits. By the time a critter begins to really know the subject matter he is booted out. The reductions in staff also reduces the institutional knowledge base.

    But not to worry, not every one is a loser in this new world. The big winners are the lobbyists. They are the only one with the institutional memory on these issues. Of course a critter, term limited or not, does have a lucrative second career as a lobbyist. The free market is just so wonderful

  188. 188
    Immanentize says:

    @PPCLI: As progressive/lefty as I am, I am a full believer in mandatory service (military with a social service alternative like in many European countries). The worst thing that has happened with our post-Vietnam military is that it has been de-democratized. Yes, it is more professional, but there really is no democratic aspect to the losses. The military was, in many ways de-democratized in Korea going forward by class. The lower class grunts really did not have much political power — until the big nationwide call-up for Vietnam. That proved corrupt, but it was the draft which included a bunch of middle class kids that helped tip the political discussion. Now, that just cannot happen.

  189. 189
    raven says:

    @Immanentize: And, in a stroke of genius, we had the Marines in static defense positions in I Corps and the Army and Navy in what was called “The Mobile Riverine Force” in the Delta.

  190. 190
    Ruckus says:

    @D58826:
    As I’ve stated on here dozens of times I use the VA services. I see vets from WWII up to Iraq and Afghanistan. Not a lot of WWII vets left, the youngest would be right at 90 now but they are there. The majority are Vietnam era vets because we are all in our mid 60s to mid 70s and at the age to use healthcare a lot, but I’ve seen guys in their 30s with no legs.
    Telling me that wasn’t war because we didn’t declare it is fucking bullshit. It’s a cheap trick to escape owning up to the fact that this country engages in warfare a lot, no matter what we call it.

  191. 191
    Immanentize says:

    @efgoldman: @Omnes Omnibus: The idea that , if only Europe paid more for NATO, we would spend more on infrastructure (and healthcare and poverty prevention, etc.) is the funniest thing I’ve seen in days. I’m laughing still –with tears of despair.

  192. 192
    efgoldman says:

    @Arclite:

    Russia, the major threat to European NATO countries, spends over 5% GDP on defense spending.

    That’s just stupid. 5% of Russian GDP is bupkis. GDP (in USD) in 2015: Russia ~$1.3 trillion; US ~$17.9 trillion. I am so a-skeert of all their spending. And you are full of crap.

  193. 193
    VincentN says:

    @Arclite:

    You seem to think that if the NATO spent more money on defense then the US would scale back its military spending and spend more on domestic matters. That sounds good in theory but I think history and reality shows that would never happen. We spends billions on defense because we want to and not because we have to.

    @guachi:

    I’m curious if the 2% is a target to reach or a requirement. Either way it’s not the US’s responsibility to shake them down and make them pay. We don’t have to have bases everywhere. We just choose to. Presumably if we scaled back then these countries would either fill in the gap or they wouldn’t.

  194. 194
    D58826 says:

    @Adam L Silverman: And sometimes, as awful as it sounds, those are just the fortunes of war. Prior to Vietnam that kind of stuff would never have made it to the front page in relatively real time. If I remember correctly it was something like 1943 before an image of a dead American solder made it into a home front newspaper. Actually I think it was Like Magazine

  195. 195
    Scotian says:

    @PPCLI:

    @NorthLeft12: Ahem. Speaking as one of those Canadians to whom the military is very important, I’ll register my disagreement. We should meet our commitments. (Or else renegotiate so that — say — cybersecurity could count as the appropriate kinds of expense.)

    And I’m not as sanguine as you about territorial safety. In particular, if we don’t get our act together over the Arctic, Russia will gladly nab it.

    Thanks for this, as another Canadian who rather profoundly disagrees with this mindset as well. I won’t pretend this opinion is held by many to perhaps most Canadians, but there is still quite a large percentage of us within the Canadian public who do believe in the importance of a reasonable defensive capability, and that Russia is as much a potential threat as the USA, and with more reasons given the North and the resources uip there, especially in a global warming reality.

    As well, it is a commitment we made, and a smart one IMHO. We may be slacking off but we really need some serious capital investment in things like ships for example. We have more need for a Navy than any other branch, and it currently is the one weakest and most under resourced currently. We also have good people in comms and similar cyber capabilities that we could be doing more with.

    The basic point being that there are still many Canadians of socially progressive liberal values that have not forgotten the importance of sanity where national/international security issues and mindsets are concerned. Human beings are human beings, and we are a predator species, and it will be a long time, if ever, before we can ever truly allow ourselves to be easy targets to fellow humans. Sad but true, as much on the national global scale as it can be on the individual, regardless of the cultures involved.

    So for us to see what Russia did, well those of us that do take things like defence seriously are really disturbed. Our defences are far too intertwined with yours (Americans to be clear here) as a result of the Cold War decades for this not to have some fairly serious direct repercussions for us too. Do not think this is going unnoticed, even if for the most part officially uncommented on so far.

  196. 196
    efgoldman says:

    @Arclite

    Because we haven’t been at war since then.

    Hey, look, it’s asshhole “Philadelphia lawyer” from the other night, back for more abuse.
    All the people, on all sides, who were shot at in Korea, and Vietnam, and Iraq…. those were fake bullets right?

  197. 197
    D58826 says:

    @Ruckus: I have no basis for this other than just human nature and I’ve said it a couple of times on this blog. Labor relations/distribution of wealth etc in the 1950’s and 60’s were much better than they are today. Now that is due to a lot of factors but I sometimes wonder if the fact that the management negotiator was probably college educated prior to WWII and was a pilot on the B17. The labor guy was probably a high school graduate and a gunner on that B17. It’s a lot harder to try and screw that labor guy when your life was in his hands as he fired his guns while over Berlin. Today, we trot some soldiers or F15s to fly over a football game and that is as close as 99% of us come to the military.

  198. 198
    Immanentize says:

    @raven:

    “The Mobile Riverine Force” in the Delta

    The evil in that title cannot be over emphasized. Did I ever tell you that a good friend of mine, my son’s robotics coach, was among one of the last Vietnamese families out? Helicopter from the DAO Annex (which was an old hotel?) to the Midway. My friend’s Dad worked for the Embassy in some untold capacity. As you know, on the carrier they were just pushing Hueys into the sea with trucks to make room for the next group of escapees. My son and his team got to go to San Diego two years ago, and they visited the Midway. His Coach, John, was with them and when the sailors found out about his past, they let him have basically a guided run of the ship to explore where, as a nine year old, he was housed, fed, etc. It was a really kind gesture by the Navy.

  199. 199
    efgoldman says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    there is nothing [outside of obtaining nukes] we can do to prevent you from invading us.

    You could build a maple syrup moat along the border.

  200. 200
    Ruckus says:

    @Scotian:
    I can’t speak for others but I’d bet there is a wide agreement with you that our current maladministration is going to have some serious repercussions for us, you and the world.
    I’m not a big fan of the military but I realize that a certain amount of it is absolutely required. Working together with many like minded nations helps us all but economically some nations are more equal than others. We can afford to spend a fair bit on the military, a country like say Belgium or Norway can’t afford to spend nearly as much. And that’s not to say our spending is balanced between citizen needs and citizen protection. It isn’t. But it’s still in our interests that countries don’t invade Belgium or Norway or Canada or…..

  201. 201
    D58826 says:

    @Scotian:

    We should meet our commitments. (Or else renegotiate

    Seems to me that is the key here. The world and the threats of 2017 are very much different than 1947/48 when NATO was established. The key is to renegotiate to meet the needs of 2017 and not to make chest pounding alpha male displays. Unfortunately the US government is lead by chest pounders.

  202. 202
    Mike in NC says:

    Trump really is nothing more than a common shakedown artist.

  203. 203
    Lurking Canadian says:

    A few days ago, valued commenter Chris said all that needs to be said on this subject:

    Complaining that NATO membership is letting Germany keep its military spending down is like complaining that your car slows down when you depress the brake pedal. That is literally why it is there.

  204. 204
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mike in NC: (Insert Hans Gruber rejoinder concerning characterization of him as “common” here)

  205. 205
    Barbara says:

    This is incredibly stupid. I imagine that meeting the two percent goal requires a whole host of considerations, such as, where does the money come from and how should a particular member spend it. Having Poland start buying thousands of tanks won’t enhance security if it provokes Russia. According to my husband, Germany faces a lot of restrictions in what it is “allowed” to buy or manufacture on its own for fairly obvious historical reasons. Blustering and stupidity often go hand in hand.

  206. 206
    D58826 says:

    @Lurking Canadian: longer version that probably goes back to 1948 – keep America in, Germany down and Russia out.

    American and European leaders remembered what happened when America was ‘out’ in the 1920’s/30’s

  207. 207
    Ruckus says:

    @D58826:
    True. Which is why even a few commenters on BJ really chap my butt. It wasn’t a declared war so it didn’t count. We still spend tens of thousands of lives and billions/trillions of dollars making them look and feel like war. But we didn’t call it war so it wasn’t. Fuck that shit. They are all wars. They all suck hairy donkey balls.
    I’ve also said on here dozens of times that I was lucky during Vietnam, I got sent somewhere else, luck of the draw. We had a commenter on BJ who did like I did, joined the navy but unlike me in 4 months he was sent to be a machine gunner on a river patrol boat. Or my HS friend who got drafted and spent his time after boot camp at the army language school in CO, first as a student and then instructor.

  208. 208
    Ruckus says:

    @D58826:
    Not to put too fine a point on it but they are pounding something besides their chests.

  209. 209
    efgoldman says:

    @D58826:

    I remember when you had critters who specialized in one policy area for most of their career. Sam Nun and Scoop Jackson on defense are two that I remember.

    Still works the old way on the senate. How long has Grandpa Walnuts been on armed services, and Hatch on judiciary? I think John Adams appointed them both

  210. 210
    Ruckus says:

    @Barbara:

    Blustering and stupidity often go hand in hand.

    I’d say far more than often. As in almost always, like 99.9%

  211. 211
    D58826 says:

    @Ruckus: I ‘lucked out’. I have a birth defect in my right eye, to all itents and purposes blind in that eye. For my folks it was a heartbreaking event in 1946. In 1968 and a 4F not so much.

  212. 212
    D58826 says:

    @Ruckus: Hmmm your are assuming that the ‘someting’ is large enough to find let alone pound

  213. 213
    efgoldman says:

    @Ruckus:

    even a few commenters on BJ really chap my butt.

    I think it’s all one klown, trolling

  214. 214
    Ruckus says:

    @efgoldman:
    And in all that time on those committees how much have either of them learned? And if they did learn anything, how much of it have they forgotten?
    I think it’s more the quality of the person on the committee rather than just the time they spent there. And let’s face it, the quality of a lot of congress is not one iota better than the new guys in the funny shaped building down the street.

  215. 215
    Ruckus says:

    @efgoldman:
    There’s a couple in the last couple of days. But it’s also my bad, I let one of them get to me.

  216. 216
    germy says:

    @efgoldman:

    I think it’s all one klown, trolling

    I really believe it’s one asshole under multiple nyms. Same arguments, same obsessions, same sentence structure.

  217. 217
    Ruckus says:

    @D58826:
    I have a HS friend who is allergic to bee stings. He fought for 2 yrs to be declared 4F because that is a disqualifying condition. I’m also highly allergic but I didn’t know that would be disqualifying till later. I also found out later than you can decline any medical treatment unless you are unconscious so if you refused your overseas shots you couldn’t be sent overseas. You’d take crap for it and be sent to the worst place they could and that means the people in charge would probably be there because they are also trouble or assholes and that is probably why it is as shitty place but still. I was on a DDG in the Atlantic for 2 yrs and long story ended up on a Marine landing ship stationed in the Pacific. The captain of the landing ship had been the flotilla commander of the DDG but was such a fuck up that the Pentagon had to find him a place for his rank where he could do the least damage. They couldn’t fire him of course because it they fired one for being a fuck up that would set precedence. He was really pissed off that they slammed the door on his career, we all suffered because of this jackass. There is more of a personal nature that I won’t go into but let’s just say that he got a call at 5:00am from an admiral at the Pentagon a couple days later and as I understand it the only words out of his mouth were “Yes Sir.” I was honorably discharged about 3 weeks later.

  218. 218
    Jeffro says:

    Interesting to see that Democrats seem to be coalescing around the idea that the Russian hacking and interference was an act of war … The Hill has an article up right now about it.

    Pretty strategic when you think about it …

  219. 219
    Ruckus says:

    @D58826:
    On makes do with what one has.

  220. 220
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman:

  221. 221
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jeffro: You read it here first!

  222. 222
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @D58826:

    Photos of 1865 Richmond look just like 1946 Berlin.

    I recently took the time to go back and re-watch Rick Burns’ series on the CW and I noticed that too… just how bad the destruction in some southern cities was by the end of the war… and that was the exact comparison I ended up making in my mind… Atlanta, 1865… Berlin… 1946…

  223. 223
    Luc says:

    NATO members agreed on a summit in 2014 to increase military spending to at least 2% within 10 years.

  224. 224
    Arclite says:

    @efgoldman: Not sure who you’re referring to, but check my history. I’ve been posting on this site for 8 years or so. I mostly lurk, but every now and then something pushes my button.

  225. 225
    Shana says:

    @different-church-lady: The linked article was from a British paper so they put it in pounds.

  226. 226
    J R in WV says:

    @Arclite:

    We cut taxes during WW2? Because we haven’t been at war since then.

    Really?? Because we had a neighbor who was totally disabled after that thing in Korea, where 36,914 troops died and countless others were seriously injured.

    And what about Viet Nam? Over 50,000 Americans died, and hundreds of thousands of the local folks were yilled, are still dying from unexploded ordinance.

    Then there’s Afganistan/Iraq, with a lower death toll but still a pretty real quantity of folks being maimed both physically and mentally. We have a senator with no legs out of that whatever it is – which is still going on, likely to explode under Trump.

    So, in short, you are fucking out of your mind to try to dance around the technicalities of a declaration of war. Just because they didn’t call it that, danced around it with an Authorization for the Use of Military Force, AKA WAR.

    Just stop. if you have so little contact with reality, if you don’t know anyone who went to any of those 3 or 4 wars and suffered as a result, you probably shouldn’t be talking about politics because you’re pig ignorant.

    People with my name died in Viet Nan. So Fuck you so very much for not caring about that war!!!

  227. 227
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    You read it here first!

    Yes – I think there may have been a few of us who were putting it in those terms as far back as last summer, certainly you and a few others.

    Important development is that by using those terms, Dems are upping the ante on the seriousness, and then possibly laying the groundwork for how this is rectified.

  228. 228
    DHD says:

    For someone of German origin, Herr Drumpf knows shockingly little about Germany. I mean, come on, their version of Risk is a board game where you win by trading with other players in order to build the longest road and the most cities!

Comments are closed.