Thursday, January 04, 2007

Regular readers of this blog know that I have opposed the Iraq war since it began. My problem was not that I oppose war in general (I am, after all, a retired military officer), nor was it that Saddam Hussein wasn't a bad fellow (he clearly was). I believed then, as I believe now, that the war was unnecessary and carried out on the basis of thin intelligence for reasons that were not essential to our national security.

More than 3000 young American men and women have been killed and tens of thousands more terribly wounded on behalf of a population that now hates us. We have radicalized the Arab world (not a difficult chore in any case) and have created the threat the war was supposed to erase (at least, according to one version) - we have provided a training and proving ground for a new generation of jihadists who marry religious fervor with mindless violence.

But more than the deaths and mutilations of so many American service members, more than the deaths of countless thousands of Iraqis and the utter destruction of the country, has been the mortgaging of our children's and grandchildren's futures.

War isn't cheap, and Iraq is no exception. According to an article by Gordon Adams in the January 2nd Chicago Tribune, we are spending about $2 billion per week, $8 billion per month, heading for a total cost which will eventually pass $1 trillion. But you won't find any of this in the President's budget, nor will you easily be able to tell what the operations in Iraq actually cost.

The Iraq war is being funded through "emergency" funding authorizations, which do not appear in the Federal budget. Further, money is not appropriated for the war in Iraq, it's appropriated for the "Global War on Terror," making it impossible to tell what's being spent in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Ponca City, Oklahoma for new surveillance cameras, or in Ocoee, Florida for police radios. Our government is not being honest with us.

What would you do with $2 billion per week, or $8 billion per month?

Our government could exercise its Constitutional responsibility to provide for the general welfare by spending that money on schools, health care, and critical infrastructure here at home, instead of spending it on a needless war conducted on behalf of a population which now despises us and has spun itself into a sewer of sectarian hatred.

It's too much to hope that the current administration will suddenly come clean with the American people. My grandchildren's future welfare is being squandered today on a war conducted for questionable reasons and paid for through dishonest fiscal sleight-of-hand. My biggest regret is that Mr Bush will not be able to run for President again, so that I could vote against him again.

It's time to cut our losses and leave Iraq. We've done all we can and more than we should on behalf of a population which has shown itself unwilling and unable to build a better life on the basis we gave them, and we should leave them to their own devices.

But we won't...which means that I'll go on seeing the terribly crippled young men and women being treated to VIP tours of the Pentagon, as if this would make up for the loss of their limbs in the service of a useless conflict. And I'll go on seeing my tax dollars being poured down the drain of a hopelessly mismanaged effort on the other side of the world, instead of being spent on the health and welfare of my grandchildren.

It's enough to make you cry.

More thoughts tomorrow.


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