The questions on my mind are: How many trillions of dollars do we have to spend, how many lives need to be wasted, and how much longer are we going to be involved in the boondoggle known as Afghanistan?
President Barack Obama faces renewed concern about his Afghanistan war strategy after leaked military documents suggested Pakistan’s main intelligence agency secretly aided the Taliban and others the U.S is trying to defeat.
Disclosure of the documents, as Congress this week considers funding for the U.S. troop buildup in Afghanistan, underscored questions about the war while many lawmakers prepare to go home to campaign in August.
Some of the 92,000 classified reports, disclosed July 25 by the website Wikileaks, say that members of Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence Directorate helped the Taliban and other Islamic rebels. The documents, covering 2004 through 2009, were reported by the New York Times, the London-based Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel, which said Wikileaks provided them the reports three weeks ago.
The leaked documents “raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat. “Those policies are at a critical stage,” and the documents “make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent.”
“I’ve been to a number of briefings and I’ve always been provided a more upbeat picture than the one” depicted by the documents, said Representative James McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat who opposes Obama’s Afghan policy. “The picture that is painted here is not pretty.”
Obama announced in December plans to send another 30,000 combat troops to Afghanistan, and Congress is under pressure to pass legislation paying for the buildup before taking its monthlong summer recess. Obama has said he will start to draw down U.S. forces in July 2011 and give more security responsibility to the Afghans, depending on conditions.
Polls show support for the war waning. Almost 6 in 10 respondents in a Bloomberg National Poll conducted July 9-12 said Afghanistan is a lost cause.
Also, 60 percent of Americans surveyed thought the withdrawal of forces should start in July 2011 even if the situation in
“For want of a nail . . . the kingdom was lost.” Will Greece’s debt crisis lead to a Greek debt default and the collapse of the euro and an ensuing collapse of the 27-member European Union (or EU), and trigger the next round of crashes that will be described by economic historians decades from now as “the Great Depression II”? The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo, Serbia brought the tensions between Austria-Hungary and Serbia to a head. In turn, it is said this triggered a chain of international events that embroiled Russia and the major European powers; and World War I broke out in Europe. Will Greece’s debt crisis set a series of events in motion that sends the world into a downward economic spiral of unfathomable proportions?
For years, I have wrestled with the question of whether the Europe would collapse economically, politically, socially and militarily. Sounds absurd, you say? The countries are too interwoven and mutually dependent now for that to happen, and at the very least they will muddle along, making the worst of the best situations, and achieving the lowest common denominator? The United States of Europe, they are not and never will be, but they have achieved a degree of cohesiveness that I never thought was likely years ago.
I believed jealousies and rivalries and, yes, the hatreds of the past would linger barely beneath the surface, coming unglued at the most inopportune times when it really mattered the most. When the chips were down, I felt the EU would splinter and fall apart; and that its participants and the world would write it off as a noble experiment that failed, much like the League of Nations. After all, its successor—the United Nations—is considered to be a colossal joke by Americans, many of whom would love to see it shipped to Europe, and its building on the East River in Manhattan bulldozed and turned into a park, or made into co-ops or condominiums.
The bitter hatreds of the past seem to have subsided in Europe though, and it has become a cultural melting pot, more and more. Airbus was the first tangible sign of economic integration that I never thought would…
America is also spending a pretty penny in Afghanistan. The U.S. admits there are only a small handful of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As ABC notes:
U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.
With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year.
Sure, the government apparently planned the Afghanistan war before 9/11 (see this and this). And the Taliban offered to turn over Bin Laden (see this and this). And we could have easily killed Bin Laden in 2001 and again in 2007, but chose not to, even though that would have saved the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars in costs in prosecuting the Afghanistan war. But this essay is about dollars and cents.
Increasing the Debt Burden of a Nation Sinking In Debt
All of the spending on unnecessary wars adds up.
The U.S. is adding trillions to its debt burden to finance its multiple wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc.
Two top American economists – Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff – show that the more indebted a country is, with…
Evidence which has come out over the last couple of years makes it clear that top Bush administration officials knew that Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction and knew that Saddam had no connection with 9/11.
It is now reasonably obvious that the Bush administration was looking for an excuse to oust Saddam, and – in the words of the Downing Street Memo – “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”.
Saddam allegedly offered to let weapons inspectors in the country and to hold new elections:
In the few weeks before its fall, Iraq’s Ba’athist regime made a series of increasingly desperate peace offers to Washington, promising to hold elections and even to allow US troops to search for banned weapons. But the advances were all rejected by the Bush administration, according to intermediaries involved in the talks.
"Fearing defeat, Saddam was prepared to go peacefully in return for £500million ($1billion)".
"The extraordinary offer was revealed yesterday in a transcript of talks in February 2003 between George Bush and the then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the President’s Texas ranch."
"The White House refused to comment on the report last night. But, if verified, it is certain to raise questions in Washington and London over whether the costly four-year war could have been averted."
According to the tapes, Bush told Aznar that whether Saddam was still in Iraq or not, "We’ll be in Baghdad by the end of March." See also this and this.
Afghanistan Is Different
But Afghanistan is much different.
As President Obama said Tuesday night as justification…
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
The ruble and other currencies do not compete against the dollar. They are dollar derivatives.
The dollar is headed to ruin, but that doesn’t mean that any other paper currency can replace it. The others will fail first.
The dollar will fail last.
The failure of the dollar, and the transition to gold happens to be the theme of an event The Gold Standard: Both Good and Necessary, in New York on Nov 1. There hasn’t been a real recovery from the crisis of 2008, and there won’t be until we return to the use of g...
Sellers were going to make an appearance at some point and today was the day they paid a visit. Whether a larger pullback emerges will depend on events over the coming days, but today's selling did emerge at some natural attack points for shorts.
The S&P finished with a 'bearish cloud cover,' but it did manage to hold declining resistance turned support, and the 20-day MA has entered the fray as an area for bears to work. But this wasn't the most bearish of the indices, and today's finish actually gives bulls a long play tomorrow (for a bounce off support). Technicals also suggest a bounce.
While the S&P may give bulls something tomorrow, th...
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...
When forecasting investment returns, many individuals make the mistake of simply extrapolating recent returns into the future. Bull markets lead investors to expect higher future returns, and bear markets lead them to expected lower future returns. But the price you pay for an asset also has a great impact on future returns. Consider the following evidence:
The average historical P/E ratio for the market has been around 15. A study covering the period from 1926 through the second quarter of 1999 found that an investor buying stocks when the market traded at P/E ratios of between 14 and 16 e...
Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.
Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...
Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?
With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...
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What do falling energy prices mean for the US consumer? Sober Look writes a brief yet thorough overview of the consequences of the correction in the price of crude oil. There are good aspects, particularly for the consumer, bad aspects, and out-right ugly possibilities. For more on this subject, read James Hamilton's How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices? In previous eras, Saudi Arabia would tighten the supply to help increase prices, but in this "game of chicken," the rules m...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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