Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nobody Believes Patraeus

Controversy continues to rage over the Patraeus Report between those who contend that as his is the official word and that of the military, it should be accepted, respected and acted upon and those who contend that the General has sold his allegiance to the president’s war to the detriment of his allegiance to his troops and his country.

The big question to me about the power of Patraeus’ report is how the American people respond to it. A recent CBS poll found that after Petraeus's testimony, the percentage of Americans who believe escalation is working fell from 35 to 31. An overwhelming majority of Americans favor a withdrawal from Iraq.

The popular media gives the public plenty of reports of what BushCo and Patraeus say. That’s why, for the past few issues of this blog, I have offered opinions and reports from the dissenting side, and today, I have another. This one comes from the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations more commonly known as the Unitarian Church. He wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress that you can read by following this link: http://www.uua.org/pressroom/pressreleases/21905.shtml

The thing that made his letter stand out to me, though, was the “Moral Balance Sheet” he attached to it. I think it has great impact.
The True Cost of War: A Moral Balance Sheet
One Day in Iraq

To date, more than 3,100 American military members have been killed in Iraq, and another 400 have been killed in Afghanistan. On average, another college-aged soldier (between the ages of 18 and 22) is killed every day.
The money the US spends on average in just one day in Iraq, $259 million, could have provided 22,615 college-aged students with a full year’s tuition or enrolled 35,500 three- and four-year-olds a full year in Head Start pre-school programs.
One Week in Iraq
The toll of the war on Iraqi civilians has been devastating. Estimates of the number of Iraqi dead range up to half a million.
As many as 3.8 million Iraqis have already fled their homes, and an additional 10,500 civilians become refugees on average every week.
The money spent in one week in Iraq could have provided three meals a day for nearly an entire year for 6 million children, the same number that dies from hunger and malnutrition every year.
One Month in Iraq
In addition to the tens of thousands of injuries American service members have sustained in fighting in Iraq, more than 500 have undergone “major amputations” – the loss of arms or legs. In the four years of fighting in Iraq, that totals ten servicemen and women losing a limb every month (or one every three days).
For less than the amount spent in one month in Iraq, New Orleans’ neighborhoods could be completely rebuilt and improved to meet standards that would better protect them against another hurricane.
One Year in Iraq
More than 34,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in Iraq in 2006 alone. That is equivalent to 93 civilians killed every day.
The money spent in Iraq in one year could have paid the health insurance premiums for half of all uninsured Americans, including all uninsured American children.
Four years in Iraq
More than 3,100 American service members have been killed since the invasion, and more than 23,500 soldiers have been wounded. As many as 300,000 veterans have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, two-thirds of whom are not being treated.
What could we have purchased with $400 billion, had our national priorities matched our moral potential?
We could have funded full American compliance in the Kyoto Protocol, which is estimated to cost $75 billion less than what we’ve already spent in Iraq.
We could have purchased life-giving treatment, including costly antiretroviral drugs, for every person in the world infected with HIV/AIDS. For almost six full years.
The Years Ahead
Even if it ends tomorrow, we will be paying for this war for decades to come. When we factor in the future costs of veterans’ medical care, disability payments, and the price of rebuilding our depleted military, the total cost could exceed $1.2 trillion.
Imagine what our world might look like in a few years if we had focused those resources on making the world healthier, wealthier, better educated, and safer.
As Americans, it is our duty to hold ourselves and our government accountable for any decision to spend American lives and money on a futile war. These are moral choices, and they have moral consequences.

As usual, Congress spent its time in political posturing instead of taking meaningful action in accord with the wishes of the people. From the Center for American Progress Action Fund (www.americanprogressaction.org )comes this little blurb (and the poll quote above):
IRAQ -- RIGHT WING CONTINUES TO OBSESS OVER MOVEON AD, OBSTRUCTS EFFORTS TO END WAR: While U.S. troop deaths in Iraq creep toward 4,000, conservatives are using MoveOn's recent Gen. David Petraeus ad to obstruct progress in ending the war. Last week, the Senate voted to approve Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) bill criticizing the MoveOn.org ad. The "sense of the Senate" resolution "strongly" condemned the "personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus." But the senators who supported Cornyn's bill have previously chastised the Senate for engaging in "empty" and "meaningless resolutions." "We have just seen a procedure in the last 24 hours that was a colossal waste of time," said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in July. Last week, President Bush used the opportunity to attack Democrats, stating, "Most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like Moveon.org, or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal." On CNN's Late Edition yesterday, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) responded, "Well, I thought it was pretty sorry when his campaign attacked Senator Kerry's record of service, and I thought it was pretty sorry when the Republicans attacked Senator Cleland. I don't condone attacks by anyone on the patriotism and service of our military." In the meantime, conservatives helped block the Levin-Reed amendment that would call for a withdrawal from Iraq.

Please keep poking your Congressmen and Senators with letters and calls to remind them of their duty to follow the will of the people. Why not send them a copy of te Moral Balance Sheet? This senseless and costly war must stop.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

No comments: