Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama Discusses Costs of Bush's War in Iraq

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.


stimbox said...

And yet Obama votes every time to continue funding.

Harold said...

Obama does vote to continue funding everytime, but in his defense, the Dems are afraid to come across as if they are leaving our troops already in Iraq hung out to dry.

This is one reason why the Dems brought up the option of discontinuing funding for the war in the first place - for a brief shining second, they look as if they have a real solution and that their party constitutes a viable opposition to the Republican war-mongers. All the while, though, they know that it's not a strategy they can really pursue, for the aforementioned reason.

Anonymous said...

Harold's points are well taken in regard to the Democrats and their opposition to Bush's war policy

What is important about Obama as against Clinton is that he opposed the war as it came into existence on principled grounds, has understood that it was a disaster, and can be expected to try to advance a peace policy for the region.
Clinton can't be trusted to do any of that. McCain can be trusted, given his world-view, to continue and probably escalate both the regional conflict, which is more than about Iraq, and U.S. military involvement.
Norman Markowitz

Harold said...

Norman, I'm not sure we can really "expect" Obama to pursue a policy of peace in the region (meaning the Middle East, I assume). He may want the US out of Iraq, and in comparison to the policies of McCain and Clinton, there really is no comparison.

What concerns me are his policies regarding Israel and the occupied territories. While a State Senator in Illinois, Obama was at times a fierce critic of Israel for its human rights abuses. When he began to pursue federal office, those criticisms of Israel dissipated and eventually turned into full-fledged, unquestioning support for Israel and its policies of ethnic cleansing in Palestine. As he mentioned in Monday's speech, Israel is a "steadfast ally."

The point is that as long as Obama unquestioningly supports Israel and its illegal policies in the occupied territories, we can't expect him to pursue a policy of peace in the Middle East.

stimbox said...

Political expediency is what has kept us in this protracted situation in Iraq and the middle east.
Obama's stand before he was elected Senator is laudable, but when he was in a position to do something about it, he folds. The Democrats own this war too, and when Obama or Clinton wins the presidency, they will take complete ownership of it.
A lot of us out here don't trust either of them to end the war. Obama talks a good game but it's time for him to put his money where his mouth is.

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree. I think people are right to suspect a Democrat. But I also think that the cost of war is so high that no domestic program of any enduring nature will be able to pass while the war continues. Now I suspect that Clinton, like Johnson would give it a go. But Obama, I have much more faith that he will change course in order to make a lasting impression on the domestic landscape.

Harold said...

At this point, we must demand a President and Congress that will not only end the war in Iraq, but change the fundamental foreign policy that created the war in Iraq in the first place. That is why during this election season, we must not only struggle for a better president (which, in all honesty, is clearly Barack Obama, in my opinion, at least), but for better representation in Congress. There are a number of Congressional seats that will be up for grabs in the upcoming elections, and we must struggle to get candidates elected that have a different approach to foreign policy, candidates that respect the sovereignty of other nation and do not seek to subjugate the third world to American hegemony.

Of course, this is a high demand, which is why our struggle will not be easy. But if it was, it wouldn't be called "Struggle," would it?

stimbox said...

I agree with you comrade Harold. The struggle is to get progressives elected.