Rethinking Afghanistan; The Terror Tax



Rethink Afghanistan (Part 3): Cost of War

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Tax time is reason enough to reflect on our budgets, personal and national.  How realistic are our expenditures?  Do we spend more than we earn?  Does our income allow for a few irrational indulgences?  Do discretionary dollars exist?  Might we consider our ample debt.  Does this represent a temporary deficit, easily resolved, or an obligation that cannot be paid promptly.  We may wish to rethink our reality.  At home, families have taken scissors to credit cards.  More than the minimum payment is made.  The intention is to lessen liabilities and increase savings.  In the month of April, after we pay Uncle Sam, most of us concluded, it is time to clean our own fiscal house.  Next, we move to the nation’s ledger.  

Expenses

The largest share of our moneys go to military operations.  The terror tax has become a tremendous burden of American household and communities.  Yet, few wish to rethink this “duty.”

Much to the chagrin of those who do not favor debt, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were paid for on credit.  Taxes were not increased to pay for the two wars.  Indeed, President Bush cut tariff obligations for the American people while he increased the number of dollars devoted to military operations.  

The cash spent on what most would agree were and are protracted conflicts was not placed on the official ledger.  Nor did it exist in American coffers.  What were classified as “emergency supplemental” expenses were made available on loan.  Other countries, rich in resources, furnished the dollars the United States desired.  The currency would need to be re-paid, with interest!  That concept alone could be considered a tax on terror, or an attack on Americans who disfavor debt.

The current Commander-In-Chief promised he would not engage in such tactics.  The Obama Administration would be transparent.  What would be spent on war would be visible in formal, administrative, concrete calculations.  To that end, in February 2009, perhaps before most Americans filed a return, President Obama submitted his budget.  Headlines screamed, Obama’s budget is the end of an era.

Cash and Change On Hand

Change had come.  Obama re-thought Bush policies.  More money would be officially allocated to military operations.  The Pentagon Does Well with Obama Budget. The financial planned commitment to the Pentagon is an abundant $533.7 billion.   This amount represents a 4 percent increase over the previous 2009 allocation. This total excludes money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The budget includes an additional $75 billion in 2009 for “overseas contingency operations,” a reference to the battles still ablaze in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locales.  Come 2010, $130 billion more will be available for combat.

Insufficient Funds

Cautions presented six months ago, on October 15, 2008, by the Congressional Research Service apparently were not heeded by the new Administration.  Citizens also did not realize, cash for these conflicts is not countless.  It never was.  Calculations were offered.  However, then, as now, the numbers were ignored.  Perhaps, all aspects of the ostensibly perpetual wars were not rethought.

Economic Cost of War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan has cost U.S. Tax payers $172 billion to date, with a request for roughly $13.4 billion to fund the war through the remainder of Fiscal year 2009 expected in March or April.  This brings the total cost through FY 2009 to $185.1 billion.

This figures reflect the budgetary cost alone.  Projected costs over the long term are likely to total more than half a trillion dollars when future occupation and veteran’s benefits are taken into account.  Interest payments could add another $200 billion to that figure. (1) All told, this is more than the size of the recent bailout of Wall Street, and rivals the historic economic stimulus bill just passed by Congress.

Countries outside the United States have spent additional billions on the War in Afghanistan, with the UK contributing roughly £4.5billion (2) and the cost to Canada totaling $7.7 billion to $10.5 billion in Canadian dollars through 2008. (3).

Thus far, you and I, the American taxpayer, borrowed one hundred and eighty five billion dollars, or more,  to fight a war thought futile in Afghanistan.  In Iraq the dollars devoted to deploy each troop, one individual, was $500,000.  That is five hundred thousand dollars!  The money spent on a single soldier sent to Afghanistan is expected to be eight-hundred thousand greenbacks.

Financial Future in Doubt

Many Progressives may wish to wail, “George W. Bush is to blame.”  However, people from the political Party that takes pride in the actions of this President might rethink that truth.  

Days before American tax payments were due, Mister Obama asked Congress for an additional eighty three and four tenths billion dollars ($83.4) to fund the war just through the end of the year!  After Mister Obama assured Americans supplemental expenditures to pay for wars would not be requested, the President rescinded the pledge.  Excuses were made.  Explanations given.  Citizens were told the additional allotment would be the first and the last made by President Obama.

It seems circumstances caused the Chief Executive to rethink his stance on spending and Afghanistan.  Perhaps, citizens will also rethink their position.  In truth, only the people have the power to insist, it is time to cut the funds for war.

Rethinking Afghanistan Realities . . .

Footnote References . . .

1.  The $3 Trillion War. By Linda Bilmes  and Joseph Stiglitz.  Vanity Fair. April 2008

2.  Cost of war in Afghanistan soars to £2.5bn, By Richard Norton-Taylor.  The Guardian. Friday 13, 2009

3.  Economic Cost of War in Afghanistan.

References  and Resources . . .

Where is the restraint in spending?



Republican Response to Obama Budget Request – Bloomberg

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

On this fine day in February 2009, President Barack Obama submitted his budget blueprint.  For  the first time, in near a decade, transparency is built into a national financial plan.  The tremendous costs to wage the two wars America is engaged in are no longer hidden.  Outlays for military offenses have been written into the ledger, and not in the traditional invisible ink.  While one might think fiscal and political Conservatives would be pleased, upon receipt of the document, Republicans immediately pounced.  Senator Judd Greggspoke on the Grand Old Party’s behalf when he asked, “Where is the restraint in spending?”

Interestingly, Senator Gregg and his fellow Republican Legislators did not solicit answers to this inquiry when the last Administration reigned.  For all those many years, the Conservatives did not concern themselves with the price the American people paid.  None on the “Right” worried of what might be when “unnecessary”wars are fought The monetary debt left to American children was not a consideration when combat was paid for on credit.  Then, as now, the greater trepidation was expressed for higher taxes.

America attacked its adversaries with borrowed money and on time borrowed from the brood.

As long as parents did not have to pay, or see the billions of bites taken from fruits reserved for their offspring, war, or supplementary spending was wonderful.  What is not so glorious for the wealthy are the words of President Obama, or his plan to pay as we go.  

“Having inherited a trillion-dollar deficit that will take a long time for us to close, we need to focus on what we need to move the economy forward, not on what’s nice to have,” Mister Obama said.  This statement did not make sense to Conservatives who rather do as the previous Administration had allowed them to do, trade common “cents” for an economic crisis.

Comfortable with artificial caps or spending, repeatedly supplemented, Republicans reacted poorly to the introduction of fiscal responsibility in the Obama Recovery Plan.  Intermittently the “Right” expresses concern for the children.  Nonetheless, each rant raises what seems to be the more real issue, taxes.  

Indeed, in the past, Progressives pondered levees.  Most Democrats wondered why Americans were not asked to sacrifice for two wars fought on credit.  It all began early in President George W. Bush’s first term.  The date, September 11, 2001 will live in infamy.  The Council on Foreign Relations explained this in a report.

Following 9/11, the United States launched new military endeavors on a number of fronts, including in Iraq.  Estimates for the total costs of these efforts remain sharply politicized.  Costs have consistently outpaced government predictions.  In September 2002, White House economic adviser Lawrence B. Lindsey estimated the cost of invading Iraq could amount to between $100 billion and $200 billion.  Mitch Daniels, who at the time headed the White House budget office, called Lindsey’s estimates “very, very high” (MSNBC) and said the war would cost $50 billion to $60 billion; shortly thereafter, Lindsey left the White House.

In January 2004, a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the total costs of Iraq’s reconstruction would land between $50 billion and $100 billion.  But in October 2007, the CBO said in a new report that the United States had already spent $368 billion on its military operations in Iraq, $45 billion more in related services (veterans care, diplomatic services, training), and nearly $200 billion on top of that in Afghanistan.  

American initiated battles blazed abroad.  No money was allocated to pay for the combat.  Billions were kept off the books.  American babies were blinded from the truth.  Their parents placed a financial burden on them that could not be calculated.

Each year, with hat in hand, Commander-In-Chief George W. Bush came to Congress and said, cost cannot be a consideration.  We must protect our borders.  The compassionate Conservative Bush assured Senators and Representatives alike, inclusive of Judd Gregg who now reels over the cost of the Obama fiscal plan.  The country must be made safe for your brood and mine.  

Although the past President knew the battles would be protracted, and said so often, he never accounted for the projected expenditures in his budgets.  Very early on, the Bush Administration was asked to design a plan for war-related costs.  However, the White House ignored such silly suggestions.  Congress too did not comply with a request to consider the cash flow.

Iraq Supplemental Requires Transparency

Revenue Watch Institute

Legislative Action

Congress must insist that clearly defined standards of transparency are incorporated into the $87 billion appropriation for Iraq.  Congress must require the President to submit at minimum a quarterly report, detailing the processes by which US funds are disbursed in Iraq, under the conditions elaborated below.

Recommended Legislative Language:?

No competitive or non-competitive contracting or purchase activities may be undertaken using any of these funds unless the President certifies that the International Advisory and Monitoring Board mandated by Resolution 1483 has been established, and submits a quarterly report detailing:

  • The extent of Iraqi consultation and participation in the contracting and purchase agreement process.
  • Actions taken to be in compliance with the transparency obligations of UN Resolution 1483.  ?An independent cost and capacity estimate of the activity in question.
  • In cases where non-Iraqi sources are awarded contracts, an explanation demonstrating that Iraqi companies lack the necessary resources and experience to perform the service at the independently estimated cost, and/or within a reasonable time frame.
  • In cases where a no-bid contracting process is employed, a detailed justification for the non-competitive tender, including a demonstration that this justification was made available to the Iraqi public.

(An Iraqi Public Finance Oversight Board should be established as a formal channel to achieve an acceptable level of Iraqi consultation for all large-purchase contracting activities undertaken with these funds.  The International Advisory and Monitoring Board, as mandated under Res. 1483, should be empowered to audit all aspects of Development Fund for Iraq. . . .  

None of these possibilities were put in place.  No one believes the proposal was even taken under advisement.  Instead, the Bush Cheney Administration moved into foreign terrain ready for a fight.  Documents that might help determine the dollars needed to do these deeds were not sent to the House or Senate in advance.  Budgetary reviews for defense spending were deliberately shortsighted   More was left out than included in ledgers.  Emergency Supplemental funds were requested each year.  

In 2001 and thereafter, no one complained, at least not loudly, certainly not the Republicans who now demand we attend to our children’s inheritance.  How might one argue against the need to protect the country, care for its citizens, and pay for the soldiers who keep this country safe?

Conservatives, in the early years of combat were gleeful with Congressional control.  They coalesced.  Democrats, defeated, chose to forfeit dignity and duty.  Progressives no longer believed they had the power to do what was right.  Resigned to the will of the President and his “people,” the Left relented.  Legislators looked the other way when the economic experts strongly stated more money is needed.  Supplemental funds, off budget show support for the soldiers.

On September 8, (2003) the White House requested an additional $87 billion of funding to cover the continued occupation and reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2004.  Of this $87 billion, $66 billion will be for military operations, and $21 billion will be for reconstruction in Iraq.

Congress caved.  Trillions trickled out of the country.  A few at home profited from the Shock and Awe plan.  However, no one wished to speak of Halliburton, the ties that remained to Vice President Cheney, or the off-the-book expense of wars.  

For persons affiliated with the Administration, defense contracts, no bid agreements to facilitate the folly known as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the monetary Mission was Accomplished.  However, for the majority of Americans, the loss of credibility, lives, limbs, and cash was a failure.

Citizens feel the calamity in an economic crisis.  Yet, Republican Representatives wish to blame Barack Obama for a budget, which will not hide such outrageous costs.

Total cost of the Iraq and Afghan Wars

The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] now estimates the costs of the Iraq war, projected out through 2017, might top $1 trillion, plus an extra $705 billion in interest payments., The total cost of Iraq and Afghanistan combined could reach $2.4 trillion.

Some experts say even those figures underestimate the true price tag.  Joseph E. Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton, projected in a 2006 paper (PDF) with another economist, Linda Bilmes, that the total macroeconomic costs of the Iraq war itself would surpass $2 trillion.  This analysis differs from that of the CBO, which measured only the war’s budgetary impact.  Stiglitz and Bilmes also predict a somewhat higher budgetary impact than the CBO did, though the CBO responds at the end of its 2007 report that some of the difference may be accounted for by factors like inflation and standard pay increases that have little to do with the Iraq war itself.

More recently, a group of Democrats on the U.S. congressional Joint Economic Committee released a report estimating the total long-term cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan would range between $2.6 trillion and $4.5 trillion, depending on how quickly forces are drawn down.  These figures drew pointed criticisms from congressional Republicans, who released a statement (PDF) citing dozens of errors in the report’s findings, some of which were subsequently changed.

Yes, the Republicans actively repute all claims of cost overruns.  For them, money spent on military actions were  and are justified.  The real issue, for the “Right” while subterranean, was revealed; as long as taxes were not raised on their personal wealth “fiscal Conservatives” felt fine.  

During the Bush years, Republicans had reason to feel content.  Those who want no new taxes had a friend in the White House who would hide the costs of combat.  Thus, then, concern was not expressed for the children, the credit crisis, or what these irresponsible parents caused.

Republicans would rather be critical of the Democrats for too many dollars spent and the way the Obama plan proposes to reduce the deficit.  “On the backs of the rich,” those who think themselves “Right” rage.  Perchance it is important to peruse the books.  Republican rants may not reveal what detailed reports do.  Today, if the government continues to fund its fights on credit, as the Bush White House did, our progeny will inherit what prosperous parents refused to pay for with cash.  


Comparing the Defense Budget to the Total Economy

The U.S. defense budget has risen over the past decade but remains substantially lower than historical levels when considered as a percentage of U.S. GDP.  President Bush requested $481.4 billion in discretional spending for the Department of Defense’s 2008 budget.  That figure does not include any of the spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been paid for primarily through “emergency supplemental requests” that are not included in the federal budget’s accounting. War spending is expected to tally to roughly $193 billion in 2008, an increase of $22 billion, or roughly 13 percent, over 2007 expenditures . . .

Allocations toward the “Global War on Terrorism,” which exceed $145 billion for 2008, also fall outside the U.S. defense budget, and do not include the war-budget supplements. . . .

In a global context, U.S. spending on military-related endeavors ranks high.  According to 2005 data from SIPRI (PDF), the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States spends substantially more on military endeavors than any country in the world.  If war spending and allocations to the “Global War on Terror” are excluded, the U.S. military budget is still more than seven times that of its next closest competitor, China. If you include those other expenditures, U.S. military spending surpasses that of all other countries in the world combined.  

That thought alone is awesome.  Rather than build a better world, engage in diplomatic talks with other nations, provide for peaceful negotiations, prepare American children for careers, prevent illness, care for the injured, or maintain the infrastructure . . . all of which would better the world for our offspring,  the Bush Administration spent trillions on destructive warfare.  

In the early years, the White House depleted a budget surplus for much of the money.  Some of the dollars came from the taxes paid by poor and Middle Class.  The super-rich Republicans were asked to contribute a lesser percent of their income.  When dollars from duties were exhausted, the Bush White House sought more funds from creditors.

Grand Old Party politicians, with the help of weakened Democrats, allowed the last Administration to squander more money than is possible to fathom on an unnecessary war.  No thought for the future of our children was mentioned.

Yet, today, with the introduction of a budget that calls for a reduction in troops and defense allocations, Republicans rage.  They do not wish to recognize that  the previous White House  already sacrificed the safety and fiscal sanity of the Seventh Generation.  

Until today, the Grand Old Party could not be bothered with war costs written into the budget.  Republicans did not ask, “where is the restraint in spending?”  Those on the “Right” played with the people’s money as though it or they were mad, and now, on this fine February day, with a transparent plan delivered, Conservatives clamor, what of the children.

Cost of War Off Budget . . .

A Day in the Life of a Guantanamo Detainee

copyright © 2008. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

Imagine for a few moments how your life would change if you were suddenly charged as an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo Bay as a detainee.

You’d be transported under conditions of sensory deprivation to maximize your disorientation.





Brooke Anderson, Flickr, Creative Commons (reenactment)



Carlos Ferrer, Flickr, Creative Commons   (reenactment)



Carlos Ferrer, Flickr, Creative Commons   (reenactment)

If you were really unlucky you’d end in Camp Delta.





Lorri 37, Flickr, Creative Commons

In any event there would be guard towers all around the place.





USMarine0311, Flickr, Creative Commons

You might be allowed to exercise, or maybe be gathered as a group in an enclosed pen.





ManilaRyce, Flickr, Creative Commons

Your day would not begin or end with regularity.  From the LA Times the story continues:

It’s a dreary winter afternoon, but the scene could be any time of the day or night. The hour for rec time is one of the few unpredictable features in a day in the life of a detainee.

Reveille is at 5 a.m., when guards collect the single bedsheet allotted to each detainee. That precaution has been in effect since June 2006, when three prisoners were found dead, hanging from nooses fashioned from their bedding.

When they do leave their cells, prisoners are shackled and escorted — to and from showers, recreation pens, interrogation interviews, and a meeting or two each year with their lawyers. They leave their cells in the “hard facilities” of Camps 5, 6 and the new 7 for no other reason, unless they are found to need medical or dental treatment when corpsmen make periodic rounds.

Once a man has refused nine consecutive meals, he is considered a hunger striker and brought to the detention medical center. His head, arms and legs are strapped to a “restraint chair” while a tube is threaded through his nose and throat into the stomach. A doctor-recommended quantity of Ensure is administered.

Under those circumstances forced feeding is one more nice way of saying “torture.”  Put yourself in the prisoner’s place and imagine the pain and distress of being strapped down and having a tube forced into your body.

A schoolroom was added to the predominantly Afghan camp last year to teach basic written Pashtu and Urdu to the illiterate.

Leather-and-steel shackles protrude from the floor beneath each desk where prisoners’ ankles are tethered during classes.





mushroomandrooster, Flickr, Creative Commons  (reenactment)

Lights are kept on in the cells 24/7 for what military jailers said were security reasons.

The full story has many more details than my excerpts.  You should read the entire article.  And put yourself in the  place and time as you read.  Then remember this is our nation at work.  We, the citizens of the United States are represented by the actions of every day in Guantanamo.  We cannot let this continue.





jemstaht, Flickr, Creative Commons

The United States needs to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay as soon as possible.  All detainees deserve the right to a fair trial or release.  We cannot continue to hold human beings in the conditions of Guantanamo if we as a nation hope to hold any measure of moral high ground.

Peace.

103

copyright © 2008. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

In the first 90 days of 2008 the United States reports 103 troop deaths in Iraq.  Since the invasion we have commemorated the 5th anniversary we have commemorated 5 years and more than 4000 soldiers lost.  Today we hear of costs near $12 billion per month and estimates of $3 trillion overall before all is said and done.  

Meanwhile our mainstream media continues to play down the ongoing failure with barely a mention any more of the deaths let alone stories of the families and friends left behind.  The death count also fails to reflect the numbers of US contractors killed in country.  No mention is made of the many thousands of life altering injuries such as limbs or eyes lost.  Nor do we hear much of the many minds broken beyond repair.  Suicides related to service time are also not counted and often not mentioned.  Coalition losses are not counted in the total.  The Iraqi losses count many thousands more, yet those are dismissed often without a thought.  Every death rends the fabric of humanity a bit more.





activefree, Flickr, Creative Commons



Recent news of increasing violence in Basra is characterized by President Bush as a “defining moment” for the Iraqi forces.  The time is defining alright, but not in the way Bush meant.  US and British troops are being put back into the fray once again.  There are increasing reports of US air attacks in which civilians are killed.  Bombing a populated area always results in casualties among the innocent.

While the ground war continues day by day and our losses mount, the insanity of Guantanamo Bay continues.  Several hundred detainees remain confined in legal limbo.  While the military would have us believe the prisoners are held in relative comfort





US Navy, public domain

we know better.  Reports of abuse may be found most any day.  Justice is a fleeting hope for the detainees as the only court on the horizon is a military proceeding in which the rules of evidence favor the prosecution.  We know the prisoners spend their days in shackles.





US Navy, public domain

Even transport for medical reasons or for exercise may result in the shackling of a detainee.





US Navy, public domain



US Navy, public domain

Razor wire surrounds the compound.





US Navy, public domain

Pictures of Camp Delta suggest conditions far removed from the reality we know exists today.





www.bloomberg.com



US Navy, public domain

In 1970 I came home right off the helicopter pads of Vietnam only a few days out of the field.  I came home a changed person.  In 1967 I enlisted in the US Army filled with the patriotic vigor only the young seem to possess.  I came home well aware of the terrible tragedy war represents.  I saw first hand how war affects the people on both sides as well as the havoc wreaked across the land.  Since those days I have stood firm in my opposition to war for almost all reasons.  Today I stand opposed to the ongoing occupation of Iraq with every fiber of my physical and moral being.  The costs are far too high in both dollars and blood.  We as a nation can ill afford to continue one more day let alone the years predicted by most in the administration.

Today the reaction of the public in our nation reminds me of a line from a song

a nation blinded by its disgrace

Today I am ashamed of my country’s actions.  Recent years have seen a drift in this nation our Founders would never have imagined.  We have watched the atrocities of Abu Ghraib along with the aforementioned Guantanamo Bay and all the damage done in Iraq.  And yet we as a nation continue to survive.





CID image

Is there any hope for us?  Of course there is.  So long as good people stand to fight the good fight our nation will survive this trauma the same way we have survived so many past times of trial and tribulation.

How are we to resolve the morass?  We must withdraw ALL our troops from Iraq.  The Iraqi people do not wish our presence to continue.  The international community does not support our continued occupation.  The time has come to end the occupation and let diplomatic maneuvers replace military force.  We must act to bring stability to the entire region through the cooperation of all nations around the globe.  We stand to be much more successful if we use the carrot rather than the stick approach.

If we withdraw will there be blood shed in Iraq?  Of course.  Will the situation be made worse than the one we see today?  Maybe or maybe not.  Who can predict that future?  The one indisputable fact remains the longer we continue as an occupying force the higher the cost to our nation.

We who believe the war is wrong headed must stand steadfast in our opposition.  The blind stubbornness of the administration will ruin our nation forever if we fail to fight.  We cannot afford to lose this one.  There is no room for failure.

Out the door, people.  Hit the streets.  Talk to every person you encounter.  Tell everyone you can corner the truth.  Show them the images of war and of Guantanamo.  Let them see the facts for a change.  It is only by our continued action and ongoing protest that we stand to win in the end.  

Peace to one and all.

Please remember I am running for Congress, DE-AL.  Please check out the website and consider a contribution  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed.  Contributions of all sorts, both moral and monetary are most appreciated.

The Cost of War and Gas; The Climate of Aggression ©

Today I heard a story that I wish I could say surprised me; however, it did not.  The event occurred on Friday, August 19, 2005.  In Alabama, an angry customer killed a gas station owner.  The driver of a Sports Utility Vehicle, possibly a Jeep, was attempting to “steal” $52 worth of fuel.  The owner of the station tried to stop him; he grabbed hold of a vehicle.  Sadly, the driver continued on his trek, dragging the body across a car park and onto a highway.  Husain “Tony” Caddi, 54 years-of-age, fell from the vehicle and was run over by the vehicle’s rear wheel. Why did this happen? Some claim, the cost of gas is the reason.

An industry group spokesman reported that in 2004, an average of one in every 1,100 gasoline fill-ups was a gas theft. Customers drove off without paying for their purchase. Station owners are very concerned.  Proprietors only reap a one-cent profit on each gallon of gas they sell. A vendor must sell an extra 3,000 gallons to compensate for every $30 stolen.  Money is tight for all of us, consumers and retailers alike.

As the price of petroleum rises, gasoline thefts increase.  In 2004, merchants nationwide suffered a loss of $237 million. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, this is more than twice the $112 million loss in 2003. Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the NACS stated, “As the price of gas climbs, people’s values decline.”

I theorize.  The cost of gas does not correlate to the decline in values; when we engage in war, that is our code of ethics.  I invite you to differ, to discuss, and to deliberate.

I believe that when we accept and approve of aggression, we see it, expect it, and create it everywhere we go.  Today, more so than ever, it seems violent behavior and unilateral attacks are considered “acceptable.”

There are those, such as our President, that say, “War is the last option.”  Yet, I have always believed and maintained, if you think it an option at all, if you believe there is ever a reason for retaliation or revenge, ultimately, engaging in it will be your choice.  You will settle the score.

We can always select, what we think is a possibility, and we do.

Consider the words of our great President; George W. Bush, “war is my absolute last option.”  Contemplate his choices and his intentional actions.  Baby Bush chose war!  He spoke of diplomacy, belatedly.  However, his intention was clearly stated for the start.  On September 11, 2001 at 1:04 PM, only hours after the planes struck World Trade Center, George W. Bush said, “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”  Cowardly acts?  Is vengeance not the path of a coward, one that is not strong enough to communicate?

There are those that say you cannot talk to terrorist.  While I strongly disagree, I still surmise, killing is not the only alternative.  War is more than a mere homicide. Murdering in mass, for me, is never correct or just.  George W. Bush forgets his history; he does not recall violence begets violence.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

The compassionate Christian conservative fails to remember his commandments, “Thou shalt not kill.”  Our Commander-and-Chief is considered our leader; we follow in his footsteps.  If he accepts aggression, if he believes there is reason to attack, if he concludes vengeance is justice, why would we do differently?

• Update . . . Additionally we might consider the comments of Pat Robertson.  Mr. Robertson is the host of Christian Broadcasting Network’s The 700 Club.  This “esteemed” fellow is the founder of the Christian Coalition of America.  In the spirit of Christianity and the commandment, this evangelist called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Today, this is America.  The climate is cold; aggression is the course.  We are considered a “democratic” nation, our Constitution espouses peace and freedom.  Yet, our actions demonstrate that we do not believe “all men are created equal.”

You might want to read a broader perspective on the Pat Robertson rant.  Please visit,  Fangs come out from right wing clerics…as usual, at MF Blog.

Please also assess the financial, physical, and practical cost of our wars against terrorism. 
Travel to . . .

Operation Truth
National Priorities Project
Casualties in Iraq
The Human Cost of War, Patricia Foulkrod
Economic Costs of War
Bill Moyers on the Costs of War
Bush Began to Plan War Three Months After 9/11 By William Hamilton, Washington Post

The Cost of War, Causalities ©


Today, numbers were released.  According to a survey conducted by a non-governmental United Sates-British group the war in Iraq has taken a large toll.  This study does not take into account the earlier Afghanistan war effort.  Nevertheless.  This investigation considers civilian causalities in Iraq between March 2003 and March 2005; obviously, there have been more, many more since.

From the time the Iraq war began in 2003, insurgents, criminal gangs, and US led forces have slaughtered nearly 25,000 civilians, police, and Army recruits.  Nearly half of the murders, intentional and accidental, occurred in Baghdad, a city that houses one fifth of the Iraq population. The total population of Iraq is, or was, reported to be 25 million.  Iraq Body Count supplied the total population statistic; this organization has worked to calculate casualties since 2003.

American led forces can claim 37 percent of these killings.

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan, a spokesman in Baghdad offered this, “We do everything we can to avoid civilian casualties in all of our operations.”  This author asks; might we consider not fighting this war, a war that was instigated on false pretenses.

This recent report mirrors a United Nations funded survey conducted a year ago.  That examination found that close to “24,000 conflict-related deaths” occurred since the unilateral United States invasion.

In October 2004, a British Lancet medical journal concluded there were 100,000 deaths inflicted during the first eighteen months of this war.

The invaders and the insurgents profess a love of nation, people, and God, and yet, each acts, reacts, violently.  Vengeance is their joint mantra; and yet, it violates the idea of concern.

However, the voices professing care continue.  On the American side, our President muses, United States and coalition troops “are defeating the terrorists in Iraq, so we don’t have to face them in our country.” This is conservative compassion; attention is given to our country, only!

Vice President Dick Cheney chimes in, “We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there, so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities.”

These are the remarks of the self-proclaimed sympathetic.  These “traditionalists” show their supportive stance selectively.  For them it is “me,” my chums, and my countrymen that count.  Only persons that the President and his pals care for personally are important; others be damned!

In truth, even Americans do not count.  If they are not Bush Buds, they are tools; tools of the neoconservative war effort.  Soldiers make it possible to “spread democracy,” that is their purpose, their mission, nothing more.

In These Times offers an opinion piece, Bush’s War Against the Military, by Ian Williams.  You might think this an interesting read.

American armed forces do not accurately count their own causalities!  Numbers are distorted, photographs are hidden, the populace must not know.  The Whitehouse and the Pentagon fear the “Dover effect.” President Bush does not attend funerals of the fallen soldiers; nor does he formally receive the remains as they land on home soil.  Injuries are also veiled.  The wounded are flown in during the dark of night.

Please read and reflect upon“The Invisible Wounded,” a Salon.com piece published on March 8, 2005. journalist Mark Benjamin and war correspondent wrote of the Pentagon, its practices, policies, and the manner in which it calculates war casualties. He offered that the numbers are “deceptively low” and he explained why this is.

Please also refer to previous posts, SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, TENTATIVELY ©, and STILL TENTATIVE SUPPORT; PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE FALLEN ©.

The Pentagon affirms, the public must be insulated and isolated.  If they are aware, if they know the true cost of war, support will fall.  Remember Viet Nam.

The administration and the Department of Defense insist, war must not be seen on screens; sounds of demolition must be suppressed.  Daniel A. Weiner, SeatllePI.com, offers his commentary.  Administration hides reality of war.  It must appear that all is well; we will tell them that it is. Vice President Dick Cheney sings this song.  He definitively declared the insurgency in Iraq is “in the last throes.” Cheney, a man that voluntarily took six deferments during the Viet Nam war, and has yet served his country in battle, predicts the fighting will end before the Bush administration leaves office.

Yet, the death and destruction continue.  The numbers maimed and murdered increase each day.  It matters not, that the injuries and deaths of Iraqi or Afghani civilians, people of Middle Eastern decent are not calculated by American armed forces. After all, gentle and kindhearted neoconservatives consider these causalities essential!  They are collateral damage!

Coalition policy dictates that citizens in the Western world must not see the faces or fatalities of war.  The wars, those in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war against the terrorists, must remain on distant shores and far from the minds of Americans.  The people must not hear the cries of civilians.  The general public need not know of the children that die daily.  Causality counts cannot be the focus; the sacrifice of our soldiers, “Support Our Troops” must be the message.

Therefore, people are reminded that these causalities are those of our enemies!  These persons are “evil;” our President tells us so, continuously.  President Bush often retorts, “My administration has a job to do and we’re going to do it. We will rid the world of the evil-doers.”

This is why United Sates and British officials contest the claims reported in this study; they must.  What would happen if they did not?  It is said, “Knowledge is power!”  My own expansion of that sentiment has long been, “Knowing is empowering.”  What those that rule have long feared is the ubiquitous cry, “Power to the People!”  Power to the people, right-on!

Saturday, May 21, 2005, the Los Angeles Times published a thoughtful piece titled, UNSEEN PICTURES, UNTOLD STORIES, by James Rainey.  The subheading, “U.S. newspapers and magazines print few photos of American dead and wounded, a Times review finds.  The reasons are many — access, logistics, ethics — but the result is an obscured view of the cost of war.” I found it a brilliant piece and thought that I would share it here with you.

Please read and reflect upon, Plutonium Page, Daily Kos, The rising civilian death toll in Iraq