Sunday, September 28, 2008
Steamboat Springs When the Bush administration finally admitted that no WMD were in Iraq and when the bipartisan 9/11 Commission finally determined that there was no Iraq involvement in the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration shifted the blame to faulty intelligence. This I can tell you was a deliberate falsehood. The intelligence information produced by the intelligence community was massaged by a group in the Pentagon called the Office of Special Plans whose sole purpose was to ensure that information passed to the White House only supported the case for war. This is borne out by the Pentagon's Inspector General's report which concluded that the intelligence supplied by the OSP and used to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq, was "reporting of dubious quality or reliability that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community."
Beyond the harm this preemptive war has done to our standing in the world is the cost in lives and treasure. If you remember, the administration assured us that the war would cost only $100 to $200 billion. Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz even declared that Iraq's oil would pay for the war. To date, this ill-conceived invasion has cost us taxpayers more than $600 billion. In Colorado's Third Congressional District alone, this war has cost more than $1.1 billion, which could have paid for the health care for more than 300,000 residents in the district.
Although these figures seem staggering, the true cost of the war could run as high as $3 trillion if we include the cost of refurbishing our seriously depleted armed forces, the cost of death benefits and the staggering cost for care of injured soldiers for the next 50 years.
No nation can spend such a sum and avoid consequences for its economy. This especially is true since most of the war has been paid for with borrowed money, much of that from foreign governments such as China. This is costing us, the taxpayers, several hundred billion dollars a year. The U.S. deficit now is so large that the U.S. government did not have the funds to bail out its own banks. Much of the money for this bailout came from banks in the Middle East and China, and it is very likely that cash to purchase sub-prime mortgages by our government will come from foreign banks as well. This dependency on foreign money has changed the U.S.'s economic position in the world and made us dependent on the "generosity" of foreign governments. If this is not a serious threat to our national security, I don't know what is.
John McCain claims his primary strength is his knowledge of foreign affairs. He supported this unnecessary war from its beginning and continues to support it today. This war has gone on longer than WWII and to what end? McCain says we must win the war, but he has never defined what winning is. Just whom are we going to defeat? Remember, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11, remains at large - not in Iraq, but in Afghanistan.
In contrast, Barack Obama opposed the war from its inception and has called for an orderly and timely withdrawal of our forces. He has called for an increase in troops in Afghanistan to find the real culprits of the terror attacks of 9/11. So, who has the better grasp of foreign policy and the use of force to support it? And whose policies would strengthen the fiscal health of this great nation?
David Goldberg is a retired senior chemical warfare intelligence analyst. He was a UN inspector of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in the Intelligence Community's Non-Proliferation Center.