Climbing out of the Money Pit
By Don, don@smalldog.com

The Pentagon has come to congress with yet another request for an extra $142 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is really time to think about our priorities again. The president is vetoing legislation that would provide health care to poor children, which would cost the taxpayers about $7 billion a year and provide health care to another 3 million children who do not have it now. In addition, our bridges and infrastructure are badly in need of repair and we cannot afford to make the necessary expenditures.

What is really important to us? Is maintaining a presence in the middle of a civil war in a region where the people don’t really like us more important than making sure our children have access to quality health care? Is this really all about the oil, as Allen Greenspan indicated in his new book? Wouldn’t it be smarter to spend the $177 million A DAY that we spend on being in the middle of a civil war on things like energy conservation and renewable energy sources so that we do not have to send our sons and daughters to fight a war?

As the candidates for President squabble about how long it would take to withdraw our troops from Iraq, the situation just keeps getting worse. No one doubts that if we just panic and withdraw that it would cause some problems, but I think that the jury is out as to whether those problems would be more severe than the problems that are caused by our presence in Iraq. Withdrawal is not enough, however—we also need to reach out to others in the area to help us provide stability for the innocent Iraqis as we take our nose out of their business. Instead of watching silently as Israel bombs a site in Syria and rattling swords against Iran, perhaps we should be relying upon diplomacy, humanitarian aid and our dwindling supply of goodwill to re-establish ourselves as part of the solution, and not the problem.

George Bush has made a mess of our foreign policy and he is leaving a very difficult mess for whomever follows him as President next year. It is a mess that has cost us nearly 4,000 American soldiers, countless civilians and put in place another mercenary army (read: Blackwater) that is beyond the law. We are exacerbating a very difficult situation by remaining in Iraq; we’re not solving any problems and creating a huge new army of terrorists. We are putting our tax money to work against our own interests!

The time for withdrawal from Iraq is now. The time to pay attention to our own priorities of health care, education, transportation and energy is also now. Oil is just going to become a more scarce resource with more demand from more places and it is the country that prepares itself through conservation and development of renewable energy that will have the most prosperous economy and the most secure citizens. We cannot be tentative about this—it is time to admit that we have made a grievous error and bring our troops and mercenaries home now.

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