Sunday, August 20, 2006

Occupation Forces

50 years... 60 years and still the Forces of the Occupation remain. The few years Americans have had a military presence in Baghdad pales by comparison.

Yet where are the outcries? Billions... trillions of dollars spent on military Occupations after trillions of dollars spent on warfare. Yet no leader has been challenged or criticized for the enormous drain on the economy or the immoral action of decades of Occupation. Iraq is a mere puddle in the oceanic history of Occupation. But memories are short.

When, when I say, will Germany and South Korea have economies and democratic political systems strong enough for U.S. troops to end their Occupation? How long after defeating an enemy must the U.S. stay to ensure democracy and world safety? It is 2006 and here are the Occupation Forces still deployed:

Germany 69,395
South Korea (United States Forces Korea) 32,744
Japan (United States Forces Japan) 35,307
Italy 12,258

That's nearly half of the Occupation Forces deployed to the present war zone of Iraq. That's about 10% of the deployed forces from World War II and 50% of the deployed forces from the Korean War.

With the exception of Italy, the countries listed above are beating our butts in many economic arenas. So why are we there?

It seems that American presidents... Democrats and Republicans... just like the idea of having the American military deployed around the world. The real question is: who is the enemy and why are they our enemy? In a world where the U.S. is roundly criticized for taking military action and having Occupation Forces, perhaps the time has come to take a different tactic.

Perhaps the U.S. should withdraw from all military locations around the world and let other nations fend for themselves. Bring the military home and be ready for any threat to the U.S. When, not if, we are attacked, go after the attackers with ruthlessness. But forget occupying attackers' countries. We spend too much being "good guys". Attack, destroy, withdraw. Leave the attackers in a state of chaos... and take out their supporters for good measure. No more stick and carrot. Just stick. Then forget about them for the next 50 years while they try to rebuild.

Let Germany and Italy deal with the oozing Muslim invasion of their countries. Let Japan deal with China. Let South Korea spend its profits from Samsung and Hyundai on guarding its own borders.

Sure, it's a high-risk strategy, but it is better than having Occupations Forces someplace for a few years... and trying to be "good guys" spreading "democracy" to the singular-minded. Take all of the money we spend protecting the world and replace it with an effort to create a Fortress America where we are self-sufficient and can tell the rest of the world to solve their own problems... and leave us alone... or else... and stay away... we don't like you anymore....

Hey, "Fortress America"... that's catchy. Wonder why no one else thought of that?

American exceptionalism oscillates between isolationism and evangelicalism. Virtue must be protected in America from a corrupt world—or imposed by America on a corrupt world. At times (such as the two decades between the First and Second World Wars), American exceptionalists have wanted to create a Fortress America and leave the rest of the world to succumb to decadence, anarchy, and tyranny. In other circumstances, American exceptionalists have been energized by a millennial fervor for reforming the world. The two impulses have sometimes coexisted. In the 1890s, for example, one fervent Protestant evangelical politician, William Jennings Bryan, denounced American imperialism, and an equally fervent Protestant evangelical preacher, Josiah Strong, argued that it was America’s destiny to Christianize the world by means of an expansive foreign policy.

The isolationist wing and the evangelical wing of American exceptionalism share a dread of alliances: It might be necessary to make immoral concessions to allies to enlarge or maintain a coalition, and the purity of America’s purpose in foreign policy would then be diluted. Even worse, alliances might infect the godly American republic with Old World viruses—autocracy, perhaps, or collectivism. This fear explains why the United States participated in World War I as an associated power, not an ally. It explains, too, why the United States for many years refused to grant diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China; merely to engage in ordinary diplomatic relations with an evil regime is to condone its crimes. American exceptionalism is responsible as well for the frequent use of economic and military sanctions to punish all kinds of transgressions by foreign countries. And its influence can be sense both in the American Left’s enthusiasm for private disinvestment campaigns against countries with objectionable governments and in much of the American Right’s reflexive unilateralism and suspicion of international organizations and treaties.

Okay, so maybe a few people have thought about it....

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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)