fired Army Secretary Thomas White said last week that senior defense
officials "are unwilling to come to grips" with the scale
of the postwar US obligation in Iraq. Similarly, in February, Army chief
of staff General Eric Shinseki brought the same message to Congress:
occupation of Iraq would take "several hundred thousand" troops.
Both men have been publicly admonished.
our commitment in Iraq continues to expand, how far off are these statements?
Washington Post editorial suggests that, "The reality is
that tens of thousands of U.S. troops will likely be in Iraq for years
to come, and (that) country will not recover without extensive investment
by the United States and other international donors." Of course,
what this means is that American taxpayers are to be squeezed in every
direction to pay to "fix" Iraq. And it is becoming increasingly
obvious that the open-ended American military presence in Iraq is not
welcome: in the past two weeks eight American soldiers have, tragically,
been killed in Iraq.
not what the attack on Iraq was supposed to be about. It wasn't
supposed to be about nation-building. It wasn't supposed to be
about an indefinite US military occupation. "Regime change"
was supposed to mean that once Saddam Hussein was overthrown the Iraqi
people would run their own affairs. "Liberation" was supposed
to mean that the Iraqi people would be free to form their own government
and rebuild their own economy.
United States is spending tens of billions of dollars and more rebuilding
Iraq. The US Army's 3rd Infantry Division, scheduled to return
home after its success in Iraq, will remain "indefinitely"
because securing Iraq is proving more difficult than defense planners
envisioned. The US civilian authority controlling Iraq has cancelled
plans to allow the Iraqis to form their own provisional government.
American bureaucrats are even running the Iraqi media.
we getting ourselves into?
the real possibility of our government getting into an expensive, long-term
entanglement in Iraq at exactly the time we are beginning to see financial
troubles on the horizon. As our nation slinks further into debt and
back into deficit, we are making decisions that will literally put our
children and grandchildren on the line to pay interest payments for
our current policy toward Iraq.
threatens the long-term health not just of our economy but domestic
spending on items like education and social security. While some of
us in Congress raised these concerns prior to the beginning of the war
with Iraq, our questions went unanswered. Instead of focusing on how
this commitment would almost certainly drain our resources for years
to come, the policy debate wrongly focused almost exclusively on whether
we would have the "moral support" of our "allies"
and international organizations such as NATO and the UN.
When American policymakers consider the wisdom of foreign entanglements
it would be best that they first understand the long-term implications
for the people we are elected to represent. We failed to do that with
Iraq and the length, difficulty, and seriousness of the long-term commitment
is only now coming to be realized by those who advocated this entanglement.
Unfortunately, once a project such as this has begun it becomes extremely
difficult to set the ship aright and change the course of policy to
better reflect the interests of our nation and its citizens. One thing
is clear: winning the military battle against Saddam Hussein may well
prove the easiest and perhaps least costly part.