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March 18, 2006
No More Money for War in Iraq
commentary by Mary Wildfire
Click here for photo gallery of the Wall of Remembrance
As we pass the third anniversary of the war in Iraq, Congress is deciding whether to approve yet another bundle of billions of dollars-67 billion-for a war that was supposed to "pay for itself." Remember when we were told the Iraqis would "welcome our troops with flowers"? Instead, most Iraqis, like most of the world, thought our troops were there to grab Iraq's oil. Far from the predicted "cakewalk," the war has bogged down after three years and $245 billion. What do we have to show for this enormous expenditure?
We have more than 2300 grieving US families, tens of thousands of physically maimed troops and probably several times that many coming home with emotional scars. We have left somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 Iraqi families in the same condition. There has never been any evidence of the weapons of mass destruction which were supposed to have justified the invasion of a sovereign nation. After billions of dollars have been thrown to Halliburton to rebuild, most of Iraq still goes without electricity, without running water, and without security. Most sources said Iraq was not a significant terrorist training center before the war-but now it is. The US government has created detention centers all over the world in which, according to repeated credible reports, prisoners are tortured. This has done incalculable damage to the image of America abroad---and at home. Who are we, after all, if we allow this sort of thing to go on? Yet most Americans were never consulted-we would speak against this ugliness if given a chance but we are not given that chance, and we end up feeling vaguely guilty about something that's not our fault.
Some say that now that we have made this mess, we have to stay to clean it up; we should not just "cut and run." But it's clear by now that the longer we stay, the worse the mess gets. At this point, Iraq is teetering on the brink of civil war. America is going deeper and deeper into debt, despite repeated cutting of the programs that pay for health care, college, environmental protection, libraries, roads and bridges and levees. Meanwhile, our states are short of National Guard troops, who should be responding to disasters at home, and instead are stuck in a place they aren't wanted, far away. In a recent poll, 72% of the troops in Iraq said they should be brought home within a year. Yes, we owe Iraq help in reconstruction-but it should be dollars going to Iraqis to do the work, so their economy can recover. Halliburton has done even less with all that taxpayer money in Iraq than it's done with the billions it got to fix New Orleans.
This is why, if you drove through Spencer last Saturday the 18th, you might have seen 30 people in front of the courthouse holding white banners. Our vigil was one of over 500, in all 50 states (including six in West Virginia) to mark the start of the fourth year of war. Our banners, comprising the Wall of Remembrance, were borrowed from the West Virginia Patriots for Peace. Each panel bears the names of 81 service members who have lost their lives in Iraq. There are 28 now. How many does it take to say that too many people have died in a war based on lies? …A war which has been very good for Halliburton and other military contractors, but a disaster for the US and Iraq.