By Joel Wendland
In West Virginia today, Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama continued his criticisms of Bush's handling of the Iraq war. He focused his remarks on the costs of war.
"We honor the brave men and women serving this nation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. A grateful nation slautes them," he stated.
No one pays as a high a price for war as troops themselves and the people who love them, he said. But we are all paying a high price for the war.
When National Guard troops are diverted to Iraq and aren't here to provide aid during natural and other disasters in their home states, that is a cost of this war, Obama pointed out. He cited the 2005 hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and massive flooding in West Virginia.
Obama also cited the Bush administration's diversion of resources from the fight in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda to Iraq, a strategic cost that has not made anyone safer.
Additionally, the Iraq war has cost US prestige and leadership on major global issues that impact our country as well, Obama added, including global poverty, disease, genocide, and nuclear proliferation.
The diversion of federal resources to give tax breaks for the wealthy and no-bid contracts to administration-friendly corporations like Halliburton has come at the expense of providing adequate funding for veterans health care. Obama cited Ft. Drum in New York, where recent reports indicate that returning veterans are waiting months to gain access to the VA system due to a lack of adequate funding.
Economically, Americans are paying for the war in other ways as well. Each household, he said is paying about $100 per month for the war. Skyrocketing gas prices – four times higher now than they were before the war – are not only taking a toll on working families' pocketbooks but also on the general economy pushing up prices across the board.
"The cost of this war has been far higher than what we were told it would be," Obama said. Obama cited recent estimates that put the final cost of the war at about $3 trillion.
Bush administration officials convinced many Americans to support the war by promising it would cost as little as $50 or $60 billion. Bush didn't tell us the truth, Obama said.