Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981 at the hands of extreme Islamists who wanted to turn Egypt into a theocracy. Conventional wisdom by beltway cognoscenti was that we had just lost a great alley and that threats in the region (Libya) were the most likely perpetrators. What further complicated diplomatic efforts in ’81 was the fact that the arms race was beginning to heat up between us and the Soviets and it was believed (rightfully so) that the USSR was in fact aiding those regimes who were anti-Israel. It was a game of chess between the two great puppet masters.
As I watch the way our media covered the events of that early October tragedy I am struck by how similar the tone was than as it is now about how Egypt would transition to power. Our government was clearly concerned about the power vacuum that was created by Sadat’s murder. What forces would coalesce and form a new government? Was Mubarak loyal to the U.S. and could he be a trusted to provide sufficient protection to Israel? Thirty years later as we watch Mubarek slowly relinquish his power those questions have been answered. Still, it is interesting to see how history moves in cycles. Whereas before you had a revolutionary group take out a pro-Israeli leader (Sadat) now you have demonstrations by the people of Egypt themselves who have forged ahead (with the help of a non-antagonistic military) to demand the removal of a stoic and out-of-touch autocrat. Still the anxieties of our nation still exist about implementation, execution and philosophy.
Still the Washington Press Corp was honest in their critique of the situation. They expressed U.S. ties to Egypt in very transparent and open terms. They acknowledged that we had a robust economic pact with the Egyptians and in order to help the transition to power we must sell them weapons to keep them on our side. Pols both Democratic and Republican alike were effusive in their praise of Sadat’s government and steadfast in their believe that the weapons pact that had been on the table should be pushed through immediately. In todays media blitz I am not sure if our elected officials would be so direct and blunt in their assessment of the situation. They would be concerned that their words would be mis-construed or taken out of context causing them long-term political peril.
What ever happened to the war tax? We had one during WW I although it was called the “Revenue Act” of 1917. During WW II we raised $168 Billion for the effort through taxes (the entire cost of the war was 304 Billion). We raised the rest of the money through long term low interest bonds that were first bought by “civic leaders” and the public than followed suit. Because the interest rates were extremely low there was no quick incentive to cash them out until after the war.
As we entered the 21st century the Bush administration got us into 2 wars; first Afghanistan and than Iraq. In both cases we did not raise taxes but in fact cut them. There was a very deliberate reason for this. If no public “investment” was made in these wars than the people would be more desensitized to the efforts abroad. Think about it; if the government told its people that the war they wanted to engage in was worth the weight than they would ask the public to sacrifice as well. If they told the country that it was such a worthy cause that they were going to implement a “war tax” than the people could than determine if it really was “worth” it to go to war. If they decided it was than the people would be much more interested in the decisions being made by policy wonks domestically and the military abroad. Why? Because it would be their money being spent on these decision. If you decided to invest a substantial amount of your own money in a stock would you ignore that stock for 9 years? Absolutely not. Well that’s exactly what we did in Afghanistan from 2003-2009. Only after Obama came into office did he refocus our efforts on that area. (And he still didn’t raise taxes)
I kept hearing pundits saying, “are these the forgotten wars,” or “they don’t even show up on the front page of the newspapers anymore.” There was a reason for that. Our government never asked for a commitment from the country. A commitment that was worthy of the wars themselves. Instead we have sent an all-volunteer fighting force of poor whites and minorities to fight on behalf of a puffy, latte drinking, Lehman brothers, oil spilling, lethargic moribund country. Now were stuck in two wars that are being paid for by China who has not problem letting our soldiers die as long as were dealing with Jihads in their backyard. Who’s gonna take the weight?
I was watching a Hunter S. Thompson video the other day and I realized that there are no headcases left to counteract the rigidity of our nation. Why are regions of this country being starved of public education?
Answers to these questions and more on The Jake Feinberg Show…