Grayson: Replace Sequester with Ending Afghanistan War

Congressman Alan Grayson says we could stave off the sequester cuts by simply ending our useless war in Afghanistan.

HuffPo (“Alan Grayson, Florida Congressman: Replace Sequester Cuts With Ending Afghanistan War (VIDEO)“):

Democratic Florida Congressman Alan Grayson told HuffPost Live on Friday that he believes the automatic spending cuts triggered by sequestration should be replaced with a bill to immediately end the war in Afghanistan.

“Listen, we’re facing a nine percent cut in the food stamps program, a nine percent cut in home heating oil programs, nine percent cut in civil aeronautics, nine percent cuts in all sort of things that people actually use in their everyday lives — and we’d save the same amount of money if we simply ended the war in Afghanistan now,” Grayson told HuffPost Live host Alyona Minkovski.

“What’s the point?” Grayson continued. “Can’t we at least make intelligent choices and get our priorities straight?”

Grayson said his amendment, which was blocked by Republicans before it could go to a vote, would call for ending the war in 30 days, unless President Barack Obama felt this would put American servicemen and women’s lives at risk.

As a practical matter, we couldn’t achieve this savings any time soon even if Grayson’s bill passed. Even if we were willing to break our commitments to our allies in this manner, the logistics of extracting our forces are such that we’d need more than a year if we started today—unless we’re willing to simply leave tens of billions of dollars of hardware behind.

His rhetorical point, however, is well taken: we’re wasting massive sums fighting for goals that we’ve long known were unachievable while cutting popular programs at home. It makes no sense.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, National Security, Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    His rhetorical point, however, is well taken: we’re wasting massive sums fighting for goals that we’ve long known were unachievable while cutting popular programs at home. It makes no sense.

    Not to mention that we are creating more enemies than we kill.

  2. john personna says:

    Dateline February 13, 2013:

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai viewed the announcement as good news. He has pushed for a faster withdrawal of international troops, arguing that his country is sovereign and should control its own fate.

    Given that, I don’t see why we can’t give Grayson’s proposal two unqualified thumbs up.

    On “leave it, burn it, or ship it,” it is simple cost accounting.

  3. john personna says:

    (Note that “clean up costs” will be there a year from now as well.)

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    And then of course there is this:
    Afghan security forces attack US base in Kapisa

    Earlier today, uniformed Afghan security forces attacked a US military base in eastern Kapisa province, killing a civilian contractor. Three Afghan troops are also said to have been killed in the incident.

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Perhaps what Grayson was thinking it that we’d use our secret teleportation devices. You hit the “return them home” button and every trooper along with their equipment just materializes back home. And if the Brits, our other NATO allies, our other allies, hell, the Afghans themselves, object to us abruptly leaving them in the lurch we’d launch drone strikes to shut them up, right quick.

    Man alive, Grayson is loopy. And, yes, leftism is a mental disorder, not a legitimate political ideology.

    In any case, onto the larger point, the federal government spent around 3.6 trillion dollars last fiscal year. That included tens upon tens of billions of dollars for such “crucial” programs as IRS audits, property seizures, drug and gun prosecutions, OSHA inspections, EEO audits, DOL audits, wildlife studies, NPR, diversity training, mortgage loan modifications, not even to mention paying multiple layers of zombie-fied bureaucrats, office drones and clerks to do overlapping, redundant jobs. We cut could the federal government by 1/3 and it still would be bloated, inefficient and wasteful.

    Ultimately when our kids and their kids are mired in grotesque poverty, dealing with systemic inflation, someone will say: “Hey, remember when liberals in the chattering classes and the Democrat Party fought for decades tooth and nail against spending less federal dollars? Turns out that destroyed the entire economy.” Alas, even then, it’ll fall on deaf ears.

  6. Every time Tsar says something worthwhile, he throws in three or four “leftists are crazy” lines that make his whole post look like something he yelled from a bunker.

  7. john personna says:

    I’d say both James and the Tsar are suffering mood affiliation.

    They know we are accomplishing little in Afghanistan. They know “closing costs” will be there regardless. And yet Grayson must be wrong.

  8. labman57 says:

    Billions of dollars are wasted each year by the Defense Department on unnecessary and extremely costly military excursions into foreign lands, security and maintenance of a bloated nuclear arsenal, and on overpriced, overrated, and unneeded military vehicles and equipment projects to satiate the needs of corporate defense contractors.

    Rather than simply eliminate these monies from the federal budget, we should strive for a lateral shift in spending, using these funds for desperately needed infrastructural projects at home — including roads, highways, and bridges, fresh water distribution and power grids, high speed telecommunications, digital security, and public school building maintenance and construction.

  9. john personna says:
  10. Ron Beasley says:

    @labman57: The F-35 would be a good place to start.
    Entire F-35 fleet grounded over engine issues

    ORLANDO, Fla. — The Pentagon has suspended all test flights for the entire Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet due to engine problems.

    The move came nine days after the Pentagon cleared the F-35B jump-jet variant, designed for the U.S. Marines, to resume tests after a monthlong suspension. Both suspensions are due to problems with the engines. It also comes at a time when the program is facing increased scrutiny from lawmakers and senior DoD officials.

    Unlike the last suspension, which was only for the B variant, this suspension affects all three variants: the F-35A Air Force conventional takeoff version, the F35-B for the Marines, and the F35-C carrier variant for the Navy.

  11. Small problem is — not shockingly, since it’s Alan Grayson — that these “war savings” have been calculated by the White House for other things already. So, like every other liberal, he’s using the same funding source that about 3 million others have all claimed for their personal pet projects.

    Government accounting. Got to love it.

  12. john personna says:

    @Kevin Binversie:

    -1, Grayson is pressing for a “get out ASAP” plan, something the White House has not supported or budgeted.

  13. humanoid.panda says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Those are you examples of wasteful government spending? With an exception or two (diversity training?) pretty much everything on your list is a necessary function of government in a modern nation state, unless you think society without say work safety regulations (OSHA), ability to tackle tax fraud (audits), basic protection of the environment (wildlife protections) and so on an so on is worth living in.

  14. superdestroyer says:

    I had forgotten that that idiot was back in Congress.

  15. anjin-san says:

    I’ve heard worse ideas.

  16. Scott F. says:

    @labman57:
    Amen, brother!

  17. superdestroyer says:

    @labman57:

    Cannot be done in a single year. Would cause a huge amount of people to lose their jobs. Would turn certain cities and counties into ghosttowns overnight.

    How do you reconcile the administrations desire for more STEM graduates with your desire to law off a massive number of them.

  18. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: My point isn’t that “Grayson must be wrong” but rather that “Grayson is making an impractical, knee jerk suggestion that comes from the right place.” I’ve been advocating cutting our losses in Afghanistan for years now. But exit has to be coordinated with our allies and phased over more than a year owing to the simple logistics of extraction. And it’s already underway, incidentally; the only thing we’re haggling over now is how small the footprint will be at the end of 2014.

  19. Scott says:

    This is a bit of closing the barndoor after the horse. I hope that the next adventure overseas (Iran for example) that we get dragged into has the debate upfront on how we are going to pay for it. I think an insistence on a war tax would put some dampening on any enthusiasm.

  20. Tony W says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    “Hey, remember when liberals in the chattering classes and the Democrat Party fought for decades tooth and nail against spending less federal dollars?

    I know I shouldn’t feed Tsar, but who started this war anyway? Oh, and the other one over in Iraq too.

    Also – who started that long war in Libya where we have been bogged down for the last couple of years with 100,000 troops, billions of dollars and no end in sight. Nobody – that’s who. When Democrats handle a foreign conflict, they do it the most fiscally and humanely responsible way possible.

  21. Tony W says:

    @Tony W: (and I’ll qualify my claim by adding – Post-Vietnam)

  22. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    The “unless” clause here reduces Grayson’s plan to “ASAP,” something we both really support:

    Grayson said his amendment, which was blocked by Republicans before it could go to a vote, would call for ending the war in 30 days, unless President Barack Obama felt this would put American servicemen and women’s lives at risk.

    You want to add “and with efficient materiel transfer,” that would be fine.

  23. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: Given that we’re likely to be down to a token force by the end of 2014 at this point, ASAP and status quo are virtually identical at this point.

    Again, I’m not disagreeing with Grayson’s sentiment, just noting that it’s not actually going to save use hundreds of billions of dollars.