FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How $87 Billion Could Buy Some Real Security

by WILLIAM S. LIND

President Bush’s request for $87 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will do nothing for America’s security. Both of those wars have already been lost, and no amount of money will change their outcomes. A Second Generation military cannot win Fourth Generation wars, regardless of the resources deployed.

But there is a way a portion of that vast sum could make a real, even a vital contribution to America’s security. How? By providing emergency back-up electrical power for every water plant in America.

In the past several months, I have experienced two major electrical power blackouts, the Great Northeast Blackout, which hit me in Cleveland, and a 3-day loss of power here in Washington as a consequence of hurricane Isabel. In neither case did I find the absence of electricity any great hardship. As someone who might be called “High Church Amish,” I don’t depend much on the grid. Over the last three powerless days, I read by kerosene light, turned my fridge into an old-fashioned icebox by putting ice into it, wrote on a typewriter (as I always do), listened to music on my Victrola and enjoyed sleeping with open windows and no roar from neighbors’ air-conditioners.

But something else, a consequence of no electric power, did scare me: the prospect of no water. Both in Cleveland and in northern Virginia, where I live, the loss of electricity shut down the water purification and pumping systems. In both places, as my water pressure dropped, a thought came to mind: I have to get out. I cannot exist without a water supply.

What happens when Fourth Generation fighters get into the computer systems that control America’s electric power and cut it out for a week or more? If people lose water when they lose electric power, they all have to get out – all of them at once, streaming from the cities into the countryside in search of water. Tanker trucks and bottled water can’t keep whole cities supplied.

Perhaps the single most effective action we could take to reduce America’s vulnerability to Fourth Generation attacks would be to ensure every water plant in the country has emergency back-up power. It won’t be cheap. In both Cleveland and northern Virginia, the local authorities said they knew they were vulnerable, but just didn’t have the money to put in emergency power systems for their water plants.

But $87 billion would do it, probably with money left over. As it is, the Bush Administration plans to spend $255 per Iraqi on electrical improvements by 2005, compared to 71 cents per American per year, according to The Guardian (U.K.). In effect, the Administration is working to give Iraqis American-style electrical service while leaving Americans at risk of becoming Iraqis, with no power and no water. Perhaps Karl Rove expects Mr. Bush to run for re-election in Iraq.

The piece in The Guardian quotes Senator George Voinovich, from my home state of Ohio and a former mayor of Cleveland, as saying, “Its hard to say to everybody, well, we don’t have money for sewers and water (at home), but we’re going to put in all that money over there.” Well, Senator, how about it? If one Senator from either party had the guts to offer an amendment to the authorization of those $87 billion giving first priority to providing emergency back-up power to America’s water plants, who would vote against it? Not anybody who cared what the folks back home thought of him, that ‘s for sure.

Here is a case where good politics and good national security policy coincide. Is there anyone left in Congress who does not have his head in the sand? It’s a no-brainer. Who knows, if the amendment guaranteed that the work would go to Halliburton, the White House might even support it.

WILLIAM S. LIND’s On War column appears weekly in CounterPunch.

 

WILLIAM S. LIND, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 01, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Hillary: Ordinarily Awful or Uncommonly Awful?
Rob Urie
Liberal Pragmatism and the End of Political Possibility
Pam Martens
Clinton Says Wall Street Banks Aren’t the Threat, But Her Platform Writers Think They are
Michael Hudson
The Silence of the Left: Brexit, Euro-Austerity and the T-TIP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Marx on Financial Bubbles: Much Keener Insights Than Contemporary Economists
Evan Jones
Ancillary Lessons from Brexit
Jason Hirthler
Washington’s Not-So-Invisible Hand: It’s Not Economics, It’s Empire
Mike Whitney
Another Fed Fiasco: U.S. Bond Yields Fall to Record Lows
Aidan O'Brien
Brexit: the English and Welsh Enlightenment
Jeremy R. Hammond
How Turkey’s Reconciliation Deal with Israel Harms the Palestinians
Margaret Kimberley
Beneficial Chaos: the Good News About Brexit
Phyllis Bennis
From Paris to Istanbul, More ‘War on Terror’ Means More Terrorist Attacks
Dan Bacher
Ventura Oil Spill Highlights Big Oil Regulatory Capture
Ishmael Reed
OJ and Jeffrey Toobin: Black Bogeyman Auctioneer
Ron Jacobs
Let There Be Rock
Ajamu Baraka
Paris, Orlando and Turkey: Displacing the Narrative of Western Innocence
Pete Dolack
Brexit Will Only Count If Everybody Leaves the EU
Robert Fantina
The First Amendment, BDS and Third-Party Candidates
Julian Vigo
Xenophobia in the UK
David Rosen
Whatever Happened to Utopia?
Andre Vltchek
Brexit – Let the UK Screw Itself!
Jonathan Latham
107 Nobel Laureate Attack on Greenpeace Traced Back to Biotech PR Operators
Steve Horn
Fracked Gas LNG Exports Were Centerpiece In Promotion of Panama Canal Expansion, Documents Reveal
Robert Koehler
The Right to Bear Courage
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Spin Masquerading as Science Courtesy of “Shameful White Men of Privilege”
Eoin Higgins
Running on Empty: Sanders’s Influence on the Democratic Party Platform
Binoy Kampmark
Who is Special Now? The Mythology Behind the US-British Relationship
Mark B. Baldwin
Russia to the Grexit?
Andrew Wimmer
Killer Grief
Manuel E. Yepe
Sanders, Socialism and the New Times
Franklin Lamb
ISIS is Gone, But Its Barbarity Still Haunts Palmyra
Mark Weisbrot
A Policy of Non-Intervention in Venezuela Would be a Welcome Change
Matthew Stevenson
Larry Cameron Explains Brexit
Cesar Chelala
How Tobacco Became the Opium War of the 21st Century
Joseph Natoli
How We Reached the Point Where We Can’t Hear Each Other
Andrew Stewart
Skip “Hamilton” and Read Gore Vidal’s “Burr”
George Wuerthner
Ranching and the Future of the Sage Grouse
Thomas Knapp
Yes, a GOP Delegate Revolt is Possible
Gilbert Mercier
Democracy Is Dead
Missy Comley Beattie
A Big F#*K You to Voters
Charles R. Larson
Mychal Denzel Smith’s “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: a Young Black Man’s Education”
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Four Morning Ducks
David Yearsley
Where the Sidewalk Ends: Walking the Bad Streets of Houston’s Super-Elites
Christopher Brauchli
Educating Kansas
Andy Piascik
The Hills of Connecticut: Where Theatre and Life Became One
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail