Faced with a skyrocketing national debt and a looming recession, a U.S. Senate panel unanimously voted today to withhold funding for the occupation of Iraq.
Or not. From the WashingtonPost:
With energy prices soaring and the federal deficit approaching $400 billion, senators from both parties moved yesterday to force Iraq to shoulder morefinancial responsibility for its reconstruction and self-defense.
That’s right. The U.S. Senate — the same body that rushed through a resolution authorizing the illegal invasion of Iraq more than five years ago — is now so concerned about the war’s escalating costs that they want to cut out the least morally reprehensible aspect of an otherwise criminal war: reconstruction.
Granted, the reconstruction process in Iraq has been ripe with fraud and has been improperly cited by cheerleaders for the war as an example of the United States’ bottomless benevolence. That said, the idea of reconstruction can at least be defended, in principle, as merely rebuilding that which the U.S. military destroyed. And after more than a decade of bombing and a crippling economic embargo, building a few schools and water treatment plants to replace the ones demolished by American weapons was the least the U.S. government could do as a gesture of reconciliation toward the Iraq people.
Of course, despite the rhetoric about “liberation” and promoting democracy, helping actual Iraqis was always the least of Congress’ concerns. And forcing the Iraqis to foot the bill for the U.S. occupation of their country is something both Republicans and Democrats can wholeheartedly agree on. As Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) pointed out during the Armed Services Committee hearing where the vote to cut Iraq reconstruction funds occurred:
“This is the first significant bipartisan change in our policy toward Iraq.”
Think about that anti-war Democrats: since Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid assumed the top leadership positions in the U.S. Congress nearly a year and a half ago, this is what they have to show for it. Remember all those impassioned exhortations in 2006 to elect Democrats in order to end the war? Well, not only has the war continued apace, it has escalated, and there are now more troops in Iraq then when Democrats took power in January 2007 on a pledge to bring them all home.
Yet instead of ending the war — which Congress could do by simply not passing another Iraq war supplemental (don’t hold your breath) — Democrats in Congress are content on merely blaming Republicans for a policy they continue to support, all in the cynical hope that the American public will elect a President Obama or Clinton on, yet again, a promise to bring the troops home.
Consider Speaker Pelosi’s comments in the Post article about cutting funding for Iraq’s reconstruction:
“They have a surplus and we have a deficit,” she said. “They have a windfall from the price of oil, and that price of oil is hurting our economy. We’ve spent a fortune on infrastructure in Iraq when we have deficits in infrastructure in our country.”
So is Pelosi’s answer to end the war in Iraq, which economists have predicted could end up costing more than three trillion dollars? Yeah, right.
Instead, Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues are willing to play into base nationalism — blaming the U.S.’s failure in Iraq on those shifty, lazy Iraqis — all to save a pittance. As the Post article notes about the move to cut the reconstruction funds, “In a war that has cost well over half a trillion dollars, the savings to U.S. taxpayers are likely to be relatively modest.”
It’s hardly a surprise that when it comes to the war on Iraq, spending on bullets and bombs far exceeds spending on paintbrushes and schools. It’s also not surprising that when faced with a declining economy and a growing debt, Congress chooses to cut funding for the small number of reconstruction projects in Iraq, rather than for the occupation itself — all while blaming Iraqis for doing too little to help themselves.
As for the occupation of Iraq, forget Democrats so much as even trying to force President Bush to agree to a timeline for withdrawal. In fact, as Pelosi made clear in comments this week, Democrats are chomping at the bit to give the president even more funds — at least another $108 billion — for a war they claim to oppose:
House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin are pushing to avoid a veto, while Senate Democrats continue to press add-ons.
“We would rather just save time and get it over with right from the start,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday.
Got that? The Democratic leadership’s priority is not ending the war (silly American public), but rather to get the funding “over with” as fast as possible — just so long as they can attach a whole lot of unrelated domestic pork to it.
What did P.T. Barnum (supposedly) say about suckers?