Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A modest proposal: ending the Afghan War for only $82.5 billion

It works like this: value lives in Afghanistan the same way the US military has been authorized to do by our government.

Here's what happens when we kill civilians:

On the back of an Afghan army truck, U.S. officials paid $40,000 in Afghan currency to representatives of the 15 people killed — $2,500 for each death plus $500 for two wounded men and $1,500 for village repairs.

Lt. Col. Steven Weir, a military lawyer who helped oversee the payments, said the payments were not an admission by the U.S. that innocents were killed.

"It's a condolence payment," he said. "The villagers said none of them were in the Taliban, just peaceful individuals from the village. So by this payment they will understand it's not our goal to kill innocent people. This may help them understand we're here to build a safer and more secure Afghanistan."

When asked if the U.S. was paying money to relatives of people that the U.S. had wanted to kill or capture, Weir said: "If we did accidentally shoot someone, we want to make that right, and if we have to pay money to someone who didn't deserve it ... it's kind of like it's better to let nine guilty people go free than to jail one innocent person."

Let's see, there are roughly 32.7 million people in Afghanistan. Round that up to 33 million in order to allow for Al Qaeda foreigners, stray goats, and anybody we want to kill in nearby Waziristan as part of the package. At $2,500/head that would only be $82.5 Billion in blood money and we could go home.

Victory would be ours.

Skeptics have asked, If we kill them all, who will get the money?

A little reflection provides several possible answers. We could either

1) Seek out Afghans living in the US (insuring that they are also unemployed former union members) and pay them for the cost of exterminating their relatives.

2) Put the money against the Afghan government's debt to the US and NATO for intervening in their country--in other words, pay it back to ourselves.

3) Provide it as a settlement incentive to anybody willing to move into Afghanistan and take over the opium trade while finishing the natural gas pipeline project for us.

Meanwhile, in a related development, Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells Pakistan and the US Congress that the Obama administration policy has exactly the same policy on cross-border incursions as the Bush administration:

"Both President Bush and President Obama have made clear that we will go after al-Qaida wherever al-Qaida is, and we will continue to pursue them," Gates said.

"Has that decision been transmitted to the Pakistan government?" the panel's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked.

"Yes, sir," Gates responded.

Funny, that's exactly what Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque says of Obama's nuanced statements on Israel and Gaza:

Now we can see why Obama kept silent on Gaza while Bush was still in the White House: because he held precisely the same views as Bush on the subject. There is nothing in Obama's statement that could not have been said -- or was not actually said -- by Bush. You couldn't slide a piece of onion-skin paper between the stances of the two men on Gaza.

Whch is cool, since there are only 1.5 million Palestinians, which means we could throw them into the Afghanistan Endlosung for the relatively modest price of $3.75 Billion. Given the current rate of sending Israel over $2.5 Billion per year in aid, that would get us [and them] out of the whole mess for two years' worth of blood money (assuming we used the rest to bulldoze the bodies and the buildings).

I nominate Jonathan Swift to succeed Bob Gates as SecDef.

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