Andrew Bracevich backs up President Trump’s denunciation of the $6 trillion America has spent in the Middle East, with little to show for it today. The region seems as unstable and perhaps even more menacing than it ever has. Bracevich writes at The American Conservative:
“America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East,” Trump observed. As media personalities like to say, that’s trillion with a T. The sums expended pursuant to U.S. military misadventures in that part of the world are so gargantuan, Trump continued, that “we could have rebuilt our country—twice. And maybe even three times….”
A tad hyperbolic? Perhaps, but given that the words were spoken in a building that rings with mind-boggling hyperbole on a daily basis, the judgment comes close enough to the facts to pass muster as essentially accurate. At the very least, it contains a fair amount of what Stephen Colbert terms truthiness.
Yet as a description of how those vanished trillions disappeared, “spent” seems somehow inadequate. That term does not do justice to the epic folly of the authorities, civilian and military alike, who presided over this vast expenditure of treasure.
The concept of “spending” suggests an exchange, something of value offered in return for acquiring an item of like value. The nation—citizens, the body politic—did not “spend” six trillion dollars on misbegotten Middle East wars. A couple dozen officials within the executive branch made the requisite decisions, those decisions ratified by compliant members of Congress.
Nor did those decisions yield the promised return, variously defined as victory, peace, democracy, human rights, or the rule of law. The money wasn’t “spent.” It was squandered, wasted, poured down a rat-hole. And those who participated in the fleecing have now moved on, consciences clear as they unabashedly advise on the necessary next steps.
Where precisely did all that money go? Republicans and Democrats alike profess to find the question without interest or merit.
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