Having the true costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan war being estimated it gives a sobering though staggering feeling for American people and taxpayers. The mere facts reinforce public’s suspicion about the engagement of the U.S. in Iraq in the first place (most polls suggest a clear majority speaking out against the war and supportig Obama’s efforts to withdraw troops).
There are many troubling circumstances that are being aroused because of our engagement in Iraq. The Bush administration has not made the world significantly more secure, though terrorist attacks have not happened again in U.S. soil. Saddam Hussein may have posed a threat to his own people but not to the U.S. There has been no weapons of mass destruction. Ad even afterwards the argument of spreading democracy, the very neo-conservaitve agenda, was promoted to distract from the mistake the Bush administration has committed in accusing Saddam of possessing WMD. Elections are indeed being held in Iraq, but does that really make a full-scale democracy with its people living peacefully? The unrest and insurgencies have gone back, mainly thanks to the troop surge.
The challenges ahead are as listed above: the speedy withdrawal of our brave troops, the provision and care for our veterans, the reduction of military spending, and the build-up of diplomatic relations with Iraq and Iran. And, of course, solving the Afghanistan issue.
The Obama administration has switched its focus on the challenges facing the West and the U.S. in Afghanistan and the bordering region to Pakistan. It is suggested that the extreme instability of Pakistan plays a big role in deteriorating the modest success being made in Afghanistan. The collaboration between Taliban and Pakistani military and the weakness of the central governemt (including the very allegations of corruption cases brought against Zardari while his, by this time, deceased wife Benazir Bhutto was prime minister) adds up ful to the instability of this paticular region. The U.S. will deploy 21 000 additional troops to Afghanistan, intending to strike down the power of Osama bin Laden’s terror network. Like the big bailouts I am highly critical of further troop surges, but, admittedly, what has worked to some extent in Iraq should also work in Afghanistan, where stability is decreasing that helps terrorists gaining support from the Afghani people.
The bottom line is, however, that this extension of U.S. military influence is not longer sustainable. As a good neighbor and superpower the U.S. carries the unique responsibility of not only protecting itself but also other nations in terms of trade, diplomacy and military. Isolationism is therefore short-sighted and unreasonable (even though some might argue that our entanglement with world affairs have drawn that international anger expressed in the 9/11 attacks). However, given the challenges in domestic policy- as I pointed out in my preceding notes based on Obama’s agenda- and, in addition, the very problem with our Mexican neighbors in terms of drug cartels, consume so much time and energy that we can hardly sustain major military adventures abroad. Besides tarnishing our reputation, causing high costs and casualties, I can see little profit in them except serious threat is being posed by a specific country.But let’s not forget that faulty assumptions under the disguise of ‘National Security’ have gotten us into the Iraq mess in the first place.
"It is your problem, my friends, your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail," said Franklin Delano Roosevelt concerning the challenges of the Great Depression which, in turn, inspired then presidential candidate Obama to say the same sentence.
A book on the costs of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan: The Three Trillion Dollar War- The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes: http://threetrilliondollarwar.org/
http://www.newsweek.com/id/117118 (Newsweek interview with Joseph Stiglitz on March 3, 2008)
http://costofwar.com/ (for people who want to know how much the war costs so far)
http://www.pollingreport.com/iraq.htm (various polls regarding Iraq from Newsweek, CBS, USA Today/Gallup, CNN, Pew Research Center, ABC and many more)
http://www.gwu.edu/~action/2004/gore/gore092302sp.html (Former Vice President Al Gore, Iraq and the War on Terrorism, Commonwealth Club of California San Francisco, California, September 23, 2002)
Remember the famous UN speech delivered by then Secretary of State Colin Powell on February 5, 2003 telling the lies about the very existence of the WMD? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p2RXWvy4Vs&feature=related
http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/hl1068.cfm (Lieutenant General Raymond T. Odierno, Commanding General of U.S. III Corps., on an article on March 13, 2008)
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/magazine/05zardari-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=asia (article on Asif ALi Zardari, President of Pakistan)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032700836.html (Obama announces his Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy)
http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/fdrfirstfiresidechat.html (FDR’s First Fireside Chat 12 March, 1933)
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iS5NBKSxq3-H9-HfXBTBeyJDL9Rw (‘We cannot fail,’ says Obama on bailout bill October 1, 2008)