fired Army Secretary Thomas White said last week that senior defense officials
“are unwilling to come to grips” with the scale of the postwar US obligation
in Iraq. Similarly, in February, Army chief of staff General Eric Shinseki
brought the same message to Congress: occupation of Iraq would take “several
hundred thousand” troops. Both men have been publicly admonished.
recent Washington Post editorial suggests that, "The reality is that tens
of thousands of U.S. troops will likely be in Iraq for years to come, and (that)
country will not recover without extensive investment by the United States and
other international donors." Of course, what this means is that American
taxpayers are to be squeezed in every direction to pay to “fix” Iraq. And it
is becoming increasingly obvious that the open-ended American military presence
in Iraq is not welcome: in the past two weeks eight American soldiers have,
tragically, been killed in Iraq.
is not what the attack on Iraq was supposed to be about. It wasn’t supposed to
be about nation-building. It wasn’t supposed to be about an indefinite US
military occupation. “Regime change” was supposed to mean that once Saddam
Hussein was overthrown the Iraqi people would run their own affairs.
“Liberation” was supposed to mean that the Iraqi people would be free to
form their own government and rebuild their own economy.
the United States is spending tens of billions of dollars and more rebuilding
Iraq. The US Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, scheduled to return home
after its success in Iraq, will remain “indefinitely” because securing Iraq
is proving more difficult than defense planners envisioned. The US civilian
authority controlling Iraq has cancelled plans to allow the Iraqis to form their
own provisional government. American bureaucrats are even running the Iraqi
are we getting ourselves into?
see the real possibility of our government getting into an expensive, long-term
entanglement in Iraq at exactly the time we are beginning to see financial
troubles on the horizon. As our nation slinks further into debt and back into
deficit, we are making decisions that will literally put our children and
grandchildren on the line to pay interest payments for our current policy toward
policy threatens the long-term health not just of our economy but domestic
spending on items like education and social security. While some of us in
Congress raised these concerns prior to the beginning of the war with Iraq, our
questions went unanswered. Instead of focusing on how this commitment would
almost certainly drain our resources for years to come, the policy debate
wrongly focused almost exclusively on whether we would have the “moral
support” of our “allies” and international organizations such as NATO and
When American policymakers consider the wisdom of foreign entanglements it would be best that they first understand the long-term implications for the people we are elected to represent. We failed to do that with Iraq and the length, difficulty, and seriousness of the long-term commitment is only now coming to be realized by those who advocated this entanglement. Unfortunately, once a project such as this has begun it becomes extremely difficult to set the ship aright and change the course of policy to better reflect the interests of our nation and its citizens. One thing is clear: winning the military battle against Saddam Hussein may well prove the easiest - and perhaps least costly - part.