By the time you read this column, President Bush will have already made his State of the Union address. I would love to comment on his speech, but my superpowers are limited to miracle hair growth and not prognostication. It is not hard for me to speculate at this time (three days in the past for those reading this column), however, what important issues are at hand in our nation.
Issue number one is that we are on the verge of war. I’ve already had a number of friends having to report to one base or another because they are in the Army Reserves. Odds are good that they are not gathering to sing karaoke and roast marshmallows on flamethrower pilot lights. No, they will be sent to some part of the Middle East, where they will sit around for a few months waiting for Operation Desert Tornado, Sahara Tsunami, Camel Meteor Swarm or whatever to take place.
What will the cost of these operations be? Inflation adjusted estimates of Desert Storm hover in the range of $80 billion. Should we decide to attempt to occupy Iraq, these costs will certainly triple. Should Saddam decide to blow up his oil fields, the subsequent economic and environmental costs will be mind-numbingly staggering. Should Saddam really have all the nuclear/biological/chemical weapons suggested by the empty missiles recently uncovered … I’ll hope my friends aren’t stationed anywhere within 500 miles of Operation Camel Meteor Swarm.
Let’s throw into the mix, if we will, those kooky North Koreans who have decided to toss out the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty and start up their “dirty nuclear reactors,” dirty in that they just happen to make plutonium which just happens to be the component that makes nuclear missiles go “BOOM.”
The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency plans to meet and discuss this development Feb. 3, which will decide whether or not it would be wise to levy sanctions against North Korea. North Korea has already said, in no uncertain terms, that such an action would be unwise and would be interpreted as an act of war. Given that North Korea is still bitter over that “Axis of Evil” crack and that they see the United States as being the major antagonistic force against them, this could be a bad thing.
Speaking about bad things, how about our economy? Yes, it’s bad. One could even say it sucks the sweat of several parts of human male and female anatomy that are not fit for printing in a public newspaper. It is hopeful that the wizards in Bush’s Emerald City Brain Trust have come up with some sort of plan to jump-start the economy into the blissful, happy thing we saw in the mid-1990s.
One of those plans, undoubtedly, will be the war, since war is great for business and we can simply slough off some of the expense to the economic mystery vortex known as “National Debt.” Likewise, there better be some sort of plan to pay for our famous Department of Homeland Security and its agenda. As Hilary Clinton pointed out (good Lord, have things gotten so bad that I’m actually quoting her!), “It is too bad that the people who issue the warnings to our cities aren’t the same people who write the checks to cover their costs.”
Speaking of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), just what in Sam Hill are they going to do about restructuring national agencies? To name just a few as I understand it, the DHS plans to have the INS dissolve to form either the BCIS or the BC and the IS, FEMA will morph into the EPR, the FBI and CIA will remain but will be more closely linked (complete with the CIOS, of course), transfers of personnel in and out of the USDA will be widespread, and completely new departments such as the EAO, FIRESTAT and FLETC will be created. Um, yeah! Sounds like a worthwhile change of bureaucracy to me.
Yakove Smirnov was right. “What a country!”