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Barlow Herget Commentary
Barlow Herget is a commentator and host on State Government Radio at Curtis Media. He has been a commentator on UNC public radio and an instructor in continuing education at Duke University. Herget was a Nieman Fellow ('70) at Harvard University, has worked for the Daily Press of Paragould, Ark., the Detroit Free Press, and the News & Observer of Raleigh. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and numerous other publications. Contact him by email.
Practical answers lacking on debt, war issues
Thursday - 7/7/2011, 4:31pm EDT
State Government Radio
The Fourth of July this week reminds the country of how far it has come since those rag-tag days of revolution and soaring words that still make grown men weep.
As far as the nation has come, it continues to face great dangers and challenges. One thing that marked the United States from its beginning was its practicality. Yes, Americans, for all their proper allegiance to high principles, are a practical people.
The Congress, namely the Republican-controlled House, and President Obama are lacking in practical answers to two of the nation's biggest problems today—debt and war.
The United States is paying billions of dollars for two wars abroad that are draining the treasury of its full faith and credit. Does this make sense? Financing for the war in Afghanistan alone costs $2 billion per week.
As for the House, its Republican leaders are risking the country's full faith and credit rather than working out a practical compromise over raising the debt ceiling.
This is the most immediate crisis because the deadline for raising the debt ceiling is only four weeks away. At stake is a default that means the United States will not be able to pay its debts, whether its interest payments to China or checks to Social Security recipients.
The House seems determined to take the economy back to the edge of a depression over extending the debt ceiling. Many of these Republicans voted time and again to raise the debt ceiling for President Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes. But no, not for Mr. Obama. The House leaders are holding firm to their ideology of no new taxes, regardless of the facts.
Mr. Obama is similarly bound to the two wars started by his predecessor. The Iraq War, we now know, was unnecessary and far, far more costly than President George W. Bush predicted.
The war in Afghanistan was proper retaliation for an act of war against al-Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban protectors. We have killed the terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden and thrown out the Taliban. We are trying now to rebuild a country ruled by a pack of thieves and backstabbers.
Mr. Obama should do what President Reagan did in 1984 after 241 Marines were killed in Lebanon. Get out. Get out of both countries as quickly as possible and stop the spending. Iraq and Afghanistan must stand on their own at some point and it makes no sense for the United States to risk more soldiers and waste more dollars as those two countries settle their own tribal and religious wars.
America needs to turn its attention to jobs here at home and a practical path towards financial stability. We're good at being practical. We can do this.