Saturday, October 01, 2011
From Print Edition
America will not invade Pakistan, for the following reasons: 1. Scarcity of funds. 2. Little or no public appetite for another military conflict. 3. Global recession. American public debt is already tipping the scales at around $14.7 trillion, which is almost as much as its GDP ($15.2 trillion).
The American Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars will be $2.4 trillion, or around one-sixth of the total American debt.
The growth of the American economy (approx. 1.4 percent GDP) is dismal, at best. Add to this the cost of the Libyan war and the ever-rising oil prices and you get a perfect recipe for a prolonged economical recession. Meaning, America is simply out of cash to start any new wars.
Unlike Third World despots who couldn’t care less for public opinion, American presidents still care and abide by popular public sentiments. Currently, the American public is no mood to support new wars. In a recent Washington Post/ABC poll, over 70 percent of Americans said they want President Obama to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
It’s not only the American populace that is suffering from war fatigue, even the rank-and-file of the American military, most of whom are on their third or fourth tour of duty, are increasingly voicing their frustrations with the longest war in American history.
According to a Military Times survey, “Less than 50 percent of US troops believe the Afghanistan war is winnable.” If American military personnel are losing the will to fight the Taliban, then only a most foolish military commander would dare to push his men into a new Af-Pak quagmire.
In this age and time, no one nation can afford to wage a war unilaterally. Only coalitions have been able to sustain full-fledge wars. Even Canada and the UK have openly expressed their desire to pull out of the Nato-led wars. Well over 80 percent of Canadians want their troops to be brought home at the earliest. Back in 2006, Bloomberg reported that in just five years, the financial cost to the UK of the Afghan war was more than £4.55 billion ($9 billion). Experts believe the UK’s ailing economy can no longer sustain the Afghan war, to say nothing of a new war with Pakistan.
Ironically, the gung ho Republicans have tied their own hands when it comes to financing new conflicts. Their political strategy of downsizing the government and reduction of national debt has boxed the Republicans into opposing any significant military adventure. The Republican Party’s obsession with funding cuts was highlighted when its leader Eric Cantor said even hurricane and earthquake disaster aid should be tied to spending cuts. Therefore, the odds of appropriation of funding for a war by a party intent on playing the financial card are low.
However, all this doesn’t mean President Obama would not be tempted to order limited shoot-and-scoot military strikes well inside Pakistani territory. America will attack Pakistani interests in the same manner that it had been doing for a while.
President Obama, who at present has all-time-low approval ratings, is in a desperate need of a series of rapid victories, like the Osama bin Laden killing, to prove his resolve as commander-in-chief. What better way for him to earn some quick political mileage than a bunch of small military victories through drone attacks and/or special operations strikes on Pakistani interests?
Despite the hysteria regarding an imminent American invasion, one would be hard pressed to find people in the United States who think America is about to attack Pakistan. Why not? It’s the economy, stupid!