Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Irresponsible Leaders Won't Call for What We Really Need

The Bush administration is still planning to continue the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It doesn't even think about stopping them. The lameduck president's term is over in January 2009, but if a Republican administration remains in the White House, both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will continue. If Obama wins and a Democratic administration takes over, the Iraq war may end, but fighting in Afghanistan will continue. Even if the US has an Obama administration, it will continue to wage war.

Wars are very expensive. American economist Joseph Stiglitz recently published a book which argues that the real cost of the Iraq War is $3 trillion (The $3 Trillion War, Japanese translation from Tokuma Shoten). At the exchange rate as of October 9, 2008, that is the equivalent of 300 trillion yen. The US has spent an enormous amount of money on the Afghanistan War alone.

The financial crisis begun by the US poses a serious challenge. The American government is asking other countries to help bail it out, but as long as it continues its Iraq and Afghanistan wars, giving the US money would be like pouring water into a bottomless bucket. Even if Japan and several other countries agree to US requests and offer large loans to help end the financial crisis, there is a very good chance that one way or another, the money will be used in the war effort. That means Japan's money would be financing the wars, and we'd be bogged down in a quagmire.

Let me repeat: If the Japanese government gives in to the US government's request and adopts a policy of loaning money to the US to quell the financial crisis and if both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars continue, it would be like pouring water into a bottomless bucket. This is so basic that even a child could grasp it.

But there is no one in this country arguing this very point. It's not only the government, the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito Party that are running from this issue — the Democratic Party of Japan and the mass media also remain mute. It's as if they are making efforts to block both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars from their minds.

The first thing we should do to calm the current global crisis is to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will prove impossible to solve the financial crisis without ending the wars.