One of the reasons why Americans are so indifferent to the U.S. invading other countries is because the wars usually don’t affect us at all. Do you think that all of the Republican war-mongers would be so eager to support the ongoing, ineffectual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq if Americans were actually made to pay for the wars instead of just borrowing the money from abroad? For example, George W. Bush did the unprecedented: he lowered taxes while fighting two wars. Eventually, but not on W.’s watch, both will have to be paid for.
On today’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, the round table discussed a completely hypothetical (it is never going to happen) surtax to pay for Afghanistan. Former Bush senior strategist Matthew Dowd (ironically) described the problem perfectly,
I agree there is not going to be a surtax, but I think this goes to a fundamental value that I think we’ve lost, which is that we can get things for nothing, that we can go to war and not have to pay for it, either by cutting the budget or doing something else. We have a war, we don’t have a draft. All of these sorts of things, that we, think, oh, by the way, we can go fight the most important war in the history of our country, but we’re not going to have a draft, we’re not going to pay for it, we’re not going to do anything that causes anybody to sacrifice.
Imagine legislation that required all military interventions to be paid for through taxes. The citizens’ notion of what was and was not in our vital national security interests would change drastically.