mad in pursuit: greed & arrogance

2004 political season

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9.12.04 Not Safer

You can listen to the flipflopping Bushies prattle on about why the war in Iraq was a good thing. The argument now boils down to "surely, the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein running Iraq."

Yeah, Saddam was evil. But can anyone say Iraq is better off? Farhad Manjoo quotes some grim statistics in his excellent Salon article:

For much of last year, the estimated number of insurgents throughout Iraq stood at about 5,000. The number is now 20,000. The average number of patrols conducted by coalition forces every day now stands at a near-record high -- more than 1,800, compared with 1,600 last November. Last November, there were about 700 attacks on coalition forces in the country; in August, there were 2,700. In June of 2003, there were six attacks on Iraqi oil facilities; in August of 2004, there were 21.

And somehow no one ever counts up the number of Iraqi lives "sacrificed" for their new "freedom." (Just how close are they now to FDR's 4 Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom from fear?) And are they producing any oil these days?

Manjoo goes on to make a good case that this fabulously expensive war has only made the world less safe for the like of you and me.

Was it worth it -- the lives and money spent in Iraq? Responding to the news that American deaths in Iraq had surpassed 1,000, Bush administration officials have insisted that America is safer because of their sacrifice. It's beyond the scope of this piece to examine this claim from the geopolitical perspective of the "war on terror," although it's worth noting that many analysts have concluded that the Iraq war has actually made America less safe, by taking away resources that could have been used to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere and by mobilizing Muslim and Arab rage against the U.S. But putting that issue aside, when one counts the money that has been spent in Iraq, and considers what it might have been spent on instead, one is hard pressed to see how our billions were at all well used.

The Center for American Progress has published a list of all the things we should have been spending our "war against terror" billions on: better port security, upgrading the Coast Guard infrastructure, cargo security, protection of commercial aircraft against shoulder-fired missiles, protecting nuclear weapons-grade material from being stolen, finishing the job in Afghanistan, etc., etc. But, oops, we're outta dough.

Our borders, our airports, our nuclear stockpiles go unprotected while we pour the national treasury into Iraq so Bush can feel macho. Even Condoleeza Rice said that the terrorists only need to get lucky once, say, getting a dirty bomb in through a poorly protected port. So aren't we stacking the deck against ourselves when we have done nothing but deploy soldiers to the wrong place and make thousands of new Islamic enemies in the process?





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