Today is the 9th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. Then President George W. Bush announced the invasion by US ground forces in a nationally televised address. The trumped up charges of weapons of mass destruction and ties to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda are well documented. We lost over 4,400 troops in that time, more than doubling the lives lost on 9/11. Some estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths number in the 6 figures. The human cost of the conflict was extremely high.
The war also cost us as a country some $700 billion. With a B. To put that in perspective, when the war began the Bush administration estimated it would cost between $50-80 billion. That doesn’t consider longer term costs like taking care of returning troops health care and servicing debt incurred to wage the war. As you remember, Bush made the questionable move of starting a war while also cutting taxes. The real costs – both direct and indirect – are more like $4 trillion. That’s more than half of the national budget deficit.
President Obama campaigned on ending the war in Iraq and on this 9th anniversary under his watch, this is the first anniversary of the war in which we’ve not been actively engaged in war in Iraq.
Leading candidate on the Republican side, Mitt Romney (and his primary opponents) took little time in criticizing President Obama for announcing the end of the war in Iraq. Romney, if you read the tea leaves would return us to the days of full on NeoCon control of the White House and endless wars. He’s basically surrounded himself with the same actors who gave us the disaster that is the Iraq War.
It’s the same old PNAC crew as before. John Bolton. Eliot Cohen. Paula Dobriansky. Robert Kagan. Eric Edelman. Aaron Friedberg. The list goes on.
Dobriansky, Kagan, and Edelman were among several who were announced as part of Romney’s “Foreign Policy and National Security Advisory Team” in October of last year. Paula Dobriansky was also an original signer of the Project for the New American Century’s letter to then President Clinton in 1998 laying out a case for invading Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein under the false pretenses of weapons of mass destruction. Kagan and Friedberg also signed it. This letter and other PNAC documents were followed almost to the letter by the George W. Bush administration.
These are not the folks we want running foreign policy or national security. They are proven incompetents. Let’s remember what Robert Kagan said with Bill Kristol in an October 2001 Weekly Standard Op-Ed:
Saddam Hussein, because of his strategic position in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, surely represents a more potent challenge to the United States and its interests and principles than the weak, isolated, and we trust, soon-to-be crushed Taliban. And unlike the Taliban, Saddam Hussein may soon have at his disposal not only terrorist networks, but biological, chemical, and even nuclear weapons.
How’d that turn out for you?
The right has insisted we not remind people of George W. Bush. They say it’s been 3 years now and we can’t invoke Bush.
With Romney essentially lining up the same advisers that led both Bush and the American public astray relative to the disaster that is the Iraq War, we don’t have to remind anyone of George W. Bush. We can just point to Mitt W. Romney. It’s the same old story. Same old hawkish song and dance my friends.