|April 17, 2006|
'Greatest Strategic Disaster in U.S. History'
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
It's time to withdraw our troops from a war that should never have been waged. There never was any real justification for sending our young men and women to die in Iraq, and there is even less justification to keep them there now.
On October 5, 2005, the former head of the National Security Agency, Retired Lt. General William Odom, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying: "The invasion of Iraq, I believe, will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history."
I totally agree with the General.
The lies, deception, and dirty tricks by officials at the highest level of our government, coupled with the torture scandals and blatant war profiteering by the Bush family and administration officials, have damaged the nation's reputation to a point from which it will never recover.
The portrayal of our intelligence agencies as corrupt and incompetent has left our nation in a state of worldwide disgrace. Bush has stirred up more anger and contempt towards Americans than any President in history.
The administration took our country to war against a nation that did not pose even a minimal threat to our security. Close to 2500 US soldiers, along with an estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians are now dead.
There are those who still insist that we are duty-bound to fix Iraq now that we have broken it. I used to be among them. No more.
We are stuck in a quagmire with no good options. However, the worst option by far, would be to continue on with more of the same, and watch the body count grow. It is clear that Rumsfeld's ill-fated military planning is not working, yet Bush refuses to change the course.
Iraq has become a haven for terrorists that it was not before Bush made the choice to invade the country. Nearly a year ago, on CNN, Cheney was asked about the progress in Iraq, and he responded without blinking an eye: "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
He was dead wrong.
Forty-some years ago, in reference to the war in Viet Nam, then Congressman Rumsfeld stated: "The people of the United States must know not only how their country became involved, but where we are heading."
The people in the US today deserve to know the truth about how we became involved in Iraq and where we are heading. But even more important, our troops deserve a plan from their Commander-in-Chief.
The Vice President has labeled criticism of the administration's war in Iraq as "dishonest and reprehensible," a statement that came on the heels of similar comment from Bush.
"What bothers me is when people are irresponsibly using their positions and playing politics," he said. "That's exactly what is taking place in America," he added.
Questioning policies that are costing the nation thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars is not playing politics. The fact is, after 3 years, we are engaged in a mission with no definition and no benchmarks for measuring success.
The President keeps saying we will not leave Iraq until win. Win what?
On October 6, 2005, during a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, Bush said: "We never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory."
How are we supposed to know when victory is "complete" if we cannot even define it?
While the mission remains undefined, the troops are overstretched, and even friendly Iraqis are begging us to leave.
Bush has said that he plans to keep the troops in Iraq for "as long as it takes." That's not good enough. Who knows how long it will take to institute order in Iraq?
In addition to the steady stream of lost lives and injured soldiers, the war is costing a fortune in national wealth with a price tag of well over $1 billion a week.
According to the Congressional Research Service, by October 2005, Congress had already appropriated $310 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a new bill was set to add another $50 billion to the tab.
Analysts predict that the cost will rise to more than $400 billion this year. But $400 billion is only the visible expense. There are unseen costs buried in the government's books.
For instance, in June 2005, the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed a major shortfall in its budget. How could the VA run out of money at a time like this? Easy. Because the administration failed to budget enough money to care for the injured troops returning home from the war.
In addition to their medical needs, wounded troops require compensation for their injuries. According to the Department of Defense, by October 2005, more than 15,000 soldiers had returned to the US after being seriously wounded in combat.
There is also the revenue that the Treasury will never see because troops are deployed overseas, and while serving in combat, they are exempt from income tax.
The American people are not being told about these hidden expenses. The administration has never provided a detailed estimate of what the war is really costing. Americans deserve to know how much of their hard earned money is being flushed down the toilet by this administration in Iraq.
The Congressional Budget Office, estimates that $85 billion more will be spent this year. That's $85 billion that will have to be added to the national debt for payment by our grandchildren's children.
After 3 years of watching our soldiers being slaughtered day in and day out, Americans want answers. But every time questions are posed, the White House falls back into the same old worn out routine of attack, spin, obscure - attack, spin, obscure.
The staged capture of Saddam in 2003, the handover of sovereignty in 2004, as well as the elections and new constitution in 2005, have all been overblown as signs of progress. The American people are sick and tired of this game.
It's time for the deceptions and distortions to end. Bush needs to explain once and for all, what he plans to do about Iraq.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government.
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