Obama Delivers on Bush’s Promise – late!

January 25, 2010

Last Saturday, the US took the next step in the process of leaving Iraq.  The Marines handed off their responsibilities in Anbar Province to the Army and prepared to leave the country.  This is part of the programmed phase withdrawl from the country, consolidating functions so they can be handed back to the Iraqi government without losing anything.

Most troops will leave after the March 7 parliamentary election. All but 50,000 troops will be gone by Aug. 31, 2010,

This is part of the existing U.S.-Iraqi security pact, but a little later than the timeline promised by Pres Bush.  I’m just glad they’re leaving.

source: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100123/D9DDEHH00.html

The Costs of the Iraq War

March 18, 2008

Steve Mufson of The Washington Post has written about the effect of the Iraq war on the world oil market.  But even those who believed that the United States invaded Iraq to create a secure source for oil for America could not have imagined how the past five years would have turned out.”Instead of making Iraq an open economy fueled by a thriving oil sector … insurgents’ sabotage of pipelines and pumping stations … (mean) the country is still struggling in vain to raise oil output to its prewar levels of about 2.5 million barrels a day.”

The costs of the war are being paid for by the American public, both for the Defense forces and the prices at the pump.  This lack of supply – and the increased demand by China – has more than tripled the cost of oil, meaning political opponents Iran, Venezuela and Russia are growing rich and causing problems in US diplomacy.

Even those planners who honestly believed the causes for overthrowing Saddam Hussein were just acknowledge the role oil would play after the invasion.  According to Mufson, leaders in the Defense Department were hoping for increasing the world supply of oil, to drive the price down, even while the State Department was warning about the dangers of political instability from flooding the world oil markets. 

Deputy Secretary of Defense (at the time) Paul Wolfowitz   told Congress just after the invasion that he believed the country could finance its own reconstruction, generating $50 billion to $100 billion in revenues within a few years.

He laments that the US has “frittered away energy resources with little regard for the strategic consequences.”  And even though Iraq still contains significan oil reserves, it is unclear when production will begin to match expections, or if the USA can afford it when it comes.

This is a significant problem for the next president.  John McCain wants to maintain the existing course of action (presumably to maintain control over the future possiblity of oil supply).  Clinton wants to pull troops from the region gradually, and Obama wants them home soon and a diplomatic solution instead.

A Bankrupt Nation

March 14, 2008

Today, the value of the dollar hit record lows in relation to European currencies, and a 19-year low against the Japanese Yen. What this will surely mean for you and me is more taxes, and the subtle “tax” of higher prices. Our current President has spent us nearly into bankruptcy by fighting the wrong war the wrong way.

How did we get here?

We had been flying air suppression for a decade, and needed to get Saddam out of power so we could leave and spend those resources on Afghanistan. Trouble is, the Army thought they were fighting WWII again, and came to “liberate” an oppressed Europe. But they forgot to honor the citizens, the resistance and the military that surrendered with dignity.

The US Army and our State Dept imposed a conqueror’s regime almost as bad as the one we deposed, and did nothing to improve the lives of the people we went in to protect. Ambassador Bremmer fired the Iraqi Army, shaming them by stripping them of honor and livelihood, sending them home in disgrace with a pittance of a pension. No wonder they took to the streets as militia! In reply, our President outsourced the war to lawless mercenaries who raised a stink in the world’s nose, and lost us most of the friends we used to have. These and all the support contractors are costing us Trillions (with a ‘T”).

Focusing on foreign wars meant Bush was not watching the domestic economy, and it has spiraled out of control. We are now at historic lows in the value of the dollar internationally even as gas prices have more than doubled during his term in office.

Congress used to rely on “pay as you go” (pay-go) to fund the government. If we tried that now, taxes would go back to levels last seen in the Carter years. But something will have to be done.  The next president will have to be innovative to keep our country a world leader.  I’m not sure we have that kind of choice right now.

Known by the company you keep

February 18, 2008

On Monday, Feb 18, George HW Bush (the elder, Bush 41) endorsed the other old guy, John McCain. Pres Bush believes the war in Iraq is going well and the strategy we are using is working well.The number of people who think the war is going well is quite small. I’m not saying we should cut and run, but the way we are dealing with the Middle East is all wrong. The best John McCain will do is to be even more hard-line, although it probably won’t cost near as much as Bush has been spending.

There’s a new poll from Gallup asking people if they would like a previous president. JFK was the top winner, with Reagan a close secong, followed by Lincoln, FDR and Clinton. The current president, George W Bush, is tied for last with his father and Richard Nixon.

In my opinion, Kennedy & Reagan (and to some extent, Clinton) offered change from deep-seated dissatisfaction in Government. GW Bush was the least offensive alternative to old-guard Democrats, but the poll clearly shows he would not win re-election this time if he were eligible. So why would McCain want Bush’s endorsement? Unless he’s more about looking backward than being an agent of change.