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What has 5 years at war cost us?

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By The Staff

Hannah Hayes

It’s hard to wrap your mind around $720 million a day, and $500,000 per minute.

After five years, the Iraq war is much more than a titanic financial burden. Civilian deaths are over 1 million, another challenging number, but these are lives, mostly of women and children. Iraq now has 5 million internally displaced people and refugees.

To those who cling to the belief that our purpose there is to bring democracy to the Middle East, can you cite any benchmarks achieved over the past five years? Would you point to the December 2005 election that put Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in power? His rule has caused more ethnic division than the civil war a U.S. pullout is purported to bring.

Some think that leaving Iraq will result in chaos. It’s already there, and the U.S. is largely to blame. Picture, if you will, a foreign soldier standing on the streets of Littleton in full battle gear. The kind of rage and uncertainty this image brings up is what Iraqis have lived with for the past five years.

Corporations have succeeded in stealing Iraq’s oil. Two-thirds of the known, and all of the undiscovered oil, will fall to foreign interests, according to the 2007 Iraqi Oil Law through U.S. and U.K. manipulations.

Since June, it is true that security has improved, offset by an insecure water supply causing an outbreak of cholera. Six months into the surge, with heavier U.S. losses, things were getting desperate. In a strategy that many will find repugnant a “successful” surge now depends on paying in-surge-agents. That’s right. For almost a billion dollars a year, 80,000 former insurgents are being bribed with $10 a day to protect civilians.

The war is projected to cost over $3 trillion. To learn what $720 million, one day’s cost, could buy in the way of domestic improvements and the re-funding of human needs, visit afsc.org/cost.

We’ve been robbed by the Bush administration. Here in Southwest Jeffco, life looks pretty good, but polls show Iraq and the economy to be our two big concerns. The relationship between these two areas (“It’s the [war] economy, stupid”) is an essential area of exploration.

Domestic fallout goes well beyond programs and policies. As we enter year six, for the litany of missteps taken in our name, see the Impeachment Resource Center at afterdowningstreet.org. Indeed, the Internet provides fact checks for all the shameful deeds enumerated in this piece.

Year after year, the peace movement has worked to expose the lies that began this war and the horrific wake of human tragedy that followed. Activists criticize the sins of our government, the plight of our troops, and the deplorable humanitarian conditions in Iraq. It’s failed. It should be over. Let’s bring the troops home.

Rebuttal

So what exactly is there right to say about Iraq? The defeat and humiliation of the U.S. do not need any stoking by the left. The Bush administration is doing a perfectly terrible job all by itself.

Kelly, are you the last person to learn that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

You got me to reread the fabulous piece by Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler called “War is a Racket.” The left does not like war. Butler, writing after WWI, helps us understand why the right does. Outrageous war profiteering continues today through private contractors that operate with impunity in Iraq. With competition all but eliminated, production sharing agreements about to be signed that will lock up Iraqi oil for the next 50 years, outsourcing of sensitive government jobs, and no answering to the military code of justice, the Iraqi people have been sold to the lowest bidder.

For those on the left, it is our responsibility to act as witnesses for the Iraqis, watch the Winter Soldier hearings, and demand a full and speedy withdrawal.

A former educator, Hannah Hayes is a wife, mother and third-generation immigrant. She runs a national business in the natural products industry and is a co-founder of Evergreen Peace.

Kelly Weist

So what exactly is there left to say about Iraq? On this fifth anniversary of the deployment of coalition troops to Iraq, nobody except the crazy anti-war left has anything to say. On the fourth anniversary a year ago, the mainstream media couldn’t stop harping on the issue, constantly recounting the number of American troops killed and the lack of political or military progress. Since the deployment of more troops this past summer (the so-called “surge”), significant progress has been made on a security level. It’s probably obvious at this point that the U.S. should have deployed higher troop levels from the beginning for the securitization of Iraq. Unfortunately, the administration bought into the idea that a quick war would be possible.

There are no “quick” wars. There can never be “quick” rebuilding of any country where war takes place. To assert this is to buy into a utopian version of foreign policy.

Western Europe has had the luxury of believing this utopian vision since the end of World War II. The rebuilding of Western Europe, most especially Germany, took decades and a serious effort called the Marshall Plan. The rebuilding of Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall took massive amounts of effort by those countries, and many have failed. Recent events in Kosovo and Serbia show the folly of believing that democracy and nation-building can be imposed by any international body. Love of freedom must be joined by constitutional law and order as well as economic freedom in order to ultimately become a Western-style democracy.

The U.S. entered Iraq because of our national interests in preventing a dictatorship averse to the U.S. and its allies empowering itself with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. We did so under the auspices of international law, as expressed by the U.N. our obligation to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq, provide security for its citizens and create the conditions necessary for the building of a democratic republic is one we take on because of our national interests as well, just as we did with Germany and Japan after World War II. It was never going to be easy, and so it has proven. How is this a surprise to anyone?

The activist left was conveniently pro-war when President Bill Clinton sent U.S. troops under the U.N. banner to Bosnia/Kosovo. They were vehemently against war against Afghanistan on 9/12, and began protesting against the deployment of troops to Iraq long before President Bush issued the orders.

The defeat and humiliation of the United States, especially when led by a Republican, matter more to the crazy left than freedom and democracy in the Middle East, or indeed anywhere in the world. It makes them feel all superior to badmouth their country. Maybe we should ship all of them to Iraq and Afghanistan to be the democracy-builders. I wonder if Code Pink would protest outside Al Qaida training camps in pink boas?

Rebuttal

It’s funny how anti-war activists scream about lies by the Bush administration, when every single thing cited by Hannah in her column and on the websites she lists are proven falsehoods. Leftists love to lie about the war in Iraq, about terrorism in the Middle East, about “torture” and deaths supposedly perpetrated by U.S. soldiers and about the amount of money spent on the war in Iraq. All are outright falsehoods, used in completely outrageous ways. The crazy lefties want to end any use of the military by the U.S., in order to humiliate and denigrate our proud country. They can’t seem to see that most of us are proud to be Americans, and are willing to protect our country and its principles.

The other day, a crazy old leftie yelled at me that I am a “neo-con,” meaning Nazi liar, if I support the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq. Funny, I’m not Jewish and wasn’t previously a liberal, so I don’t qualify. I am, however, a hawk and always have been. I believe in peace through strength, specifically the U.S. Marines. Hoo-rah!

Attorney and political activist Kelly Weist has served on the board of directors of the Colorado Federation of Republican Women and is the co-founder of Mountain Republican Women.