Iraq: the albatross around our neck
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
We are now into the sixth year of Bush’s war in Iraq. What have we accomplished, and what has been the cost? We deposed a bloody tyrant, Saddam Hussein, but he certainly wasn’t the only one in the world. What about Omar Al-Bashir, the perpetrator of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan; Robert Mugabe and Than Shwe, brutally suppressing political dissent in Zimbabwe and Myanmar (Burma), respectively; and Kim Jong-il, the world-threatening tyrant in North Korea? Surely they are as evil as Saddam.
The cost of our misadventure in Iraq is 5,000 U.S. military and civilian lives lost, and 30,000 severely wounded; plus hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed (mostly civilians), a country destroyed, and a financial outlay of $700 billion, which is estimated may ultimately exceed $2 trillion.
What do we have to show for all this cost and suffering? A country torn by internal conflict ” initially Sunni versus Shi’a, to which has now been added Shi’a against the Shiite government ” creating rising acts of violence and retaliation. The ineffectual government of Prime Minister Al-Maliki is riddled with corruption, with billions of U.S. dollars and massive stores of U.S.-supplied weapons unaccounted for. Lately we have started arming the Sunnis in addition to the Shiite government, arming both sides for a showdown confrontation. We have also witnessed the failed performance of the Iraqi army and police against insurgent Shiite forces, either defecting to the insurgents or turning their weapons over to them.
Even though Iraq has an annual budget surplus of $15 billion for its oil revenue, our government continues to pour billions of dollars of American taxpayers’ money into reconstruction in Iraq, much of which is siphoned off by corruption by both Iraqi officials, and Iraqi and U.S. contractors who have been favored with no-bid contracts. And much of these contractors’ work has been found to be shoddy. Does the name Halliburton come to mind?
Our government’s profligate spending in Iraq is diverting our money from meeting crying needs here at home. There’s no money left to repair our failing infrastructure ” highways, bridges, airports, schools, and water and wastewater systems ” or for education, health care, and our national parks and forests.
It has recently come to light that the Bush Administration has been using retired military officers for propaganda purposes by sending them to Iraq, where they were fed an unrealistically positive assessment of the situation to take back and present on television interviews as supposedly independent military analysts who support the administration’s policies. Another group of retired military officers has prepared a completely opposite report condemning the administration’s management of the Iraq War, and concluding that conditions have deteriorated to such a degree that it is virtually unwinnable.
When are we going to wake up to the fact that our continued involvement in Iraq will ultimately bankrupt our country? By keeping this war going, we are playing into the strategy of Muslim extremists who have sworn to “bleed us white.” We are also undermining the future of our country by squandering our resources on this war without end, instead of investing it in desperately needed domestic programs to benefit the people of this country and efforts to improve the lot of people throughout the world.
Hal Sundin’s column usually appears every other Thursday in the Post Independent. It is running today because of an error made by the Post Independent.
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