Rise and Fall, according to Murtha

December 2, 2009

Great powers rise and fall.

And a powerful member of the House of Representatives, mindful of this, fears the United States could be swamping itself in Afghanistan’s rugged terrain, a graveyard of foreign forces. USA/

“What I’m worried about is the cost of the war,” said Rep. John Murtha, who controls the Pentagon’s purse strings as chairman of the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee.

President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat, was “real good” in presenting his new war strategy Tuesday night, “but he didn’t convince me,” Murtha told a briefing on Wednesday. He spoke after a two-day visit to Afghanistan last week.

The blunt, 77-year-old retired Marine said he had sent the president a copy of “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers,” a 1987 study by Paul Kennedy, a Yale University professor of history.

The book, subtitled “Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000,” surveyed shifting balances of power that brought all empires to dust as they overextended their reach.

Murtha said he had hand-marked passages for Obama, and sent it via retired Marine Gen. James Jones, the national security adviser. The White House had no immediate comment on whether Obama received the book, or whether he had read it or planned to do so.

War spending in Afghanistan has more than doubled over the last year, reaching $6.7 billion in June alone.  Sticker shock could fuel congressional doubts about Obama’s plan to ship in 30,000 new troops by next summer, a $30 billion to $35 billion add-on.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Theiler (Murtha inbetween Defense Secretary Robert Gates at left and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen)

One comment

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Most Americans are in denial regarding our status as an empire. As such many of us don’t see any connection to the lessons of imperial overreach in the past to our nation’s present condition. A successful politician can only go as far as the public will allow. Perhaps the muddled approach our government has employed prosecuting this war is indicative of the division in our society over the need for this war.

Posted by eddieblack | Report as abusive