When former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had the temerity to criticize the leadership of the chosen one for failing to secure a Status of Forces agreement, i.e. an official grant of permission for the US military to operate in Afghanistan, from what is essentially, in fact, a puppet regime which we installed into power in the first place, observing that “a trained ape” could have gotten one, Andrew Sullivan and his Dish came noisily to the Kenyan Caliban’s defense in their customary hair-pulling and nail-clawing vituperative fashion.
Whatâ€™s truly striking and amazing about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld is their persistent refusal/inability to reflect in any serious way on the immense moral, fiscal, and human costs of their failed wars. They are post-modern creatures â€“ Rumsfeld never tackled an insurgency, he just â€œredefinedâ€ the word, just as he re-named torture â€“ and you see this most graphically in Errol Morrisâ€™s small masterpiece, The Unknown Known. And so the very concept of personal accountability and responsibility is utterly absent. There was one flash of it: when Rumsfeld offered his resignation after the torture programâ€™s reach and migration was revealed in the photos from Abu Ghraib. But even then, Rumsfeld was resigning because of the exposure â€“ not because of the war crimes which he directly authorized.
What is truly striking and amazing about Andrew Sullivan, and his colleagues at the Dish, is their reliance on Big Lie repetition of mendacious left-wing talking points delivered in blizzard form, intentionally making any effort at refutation so time-consuming, lengthy and laborious as to be nearly impossible.
“immense moral, fiscal, and human costs of their failed wars” ?
The majority of Americans, existing outside the exquisite and morally prÃ©cieux community of left-wing cranks, poseurs, and pseudo-intellectuals, as far as I can see, felt no moral cost whatsoever in taking military action against Saddam Hussein and the Baathist Iraqi regime which was hostile, firing on US planes on a daily basis, and which had flagrantly violated the cease-fire agreements ending the First Gulf War. Nor would anyone intellectually honest and sane feel the slightest iota of chagrin at the concept of invading barbarous Afghanistan, at the time host of the leadership of the 9/11 terrorist plot and their training camps. What gives me moral problems is the Bush Administration’s failure to initiate hostilities against, and to subjugate and civilize, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Significant elements of the military and intelligence leadership of Pakistan were obviously in cahoots with the jihadi terrorists of al Qaeda and the Taliban, which explains why it is that Osama bin Ladin, after fleeing Afghanistan, wound up living within a few hundred yards of Pakistan’s military academy in Abbotabad.
Terrorism costs money, and the money supporting the 9/11 plot and al Qaeda generally came principally from Saudi Arabia. 15 of 19 9/11 terrorists were Saudis.
Iran, no differently from Iraq, was (and is) a regime sponsor of international terrorism, a passionate adversary of America and the West in general, an odious tyranny, and a persistent developer (and potential disseminator) of WMDs, including nuclear weapons. Iran was no less worthy than Iraq as target of regime change.
As to the allegedly immense fiscal costs, Andrew Sullivan would clearly be better informed if he regularly read my blog. Back in 2010, I quoted Randall Hoven who put the costs of the Iraq War into perspective. (I’m deliberately restricting the discussion to Iraq-related figures and arguments in the interests of brevity.)
If we look only at the Iraq War years in which Bush was President (2003-2008), spending on the war was $554B. Federal spending on education over that same time period was $574B.
Obamaâ€™s stimulus, passed in his first month in office, will cost more than the entire Iraq Warâ€”more than $100 billion
Just the first two years of Obamaâ€™s stimulus cost more than the entire cost of the Iraq War under President Bush, or six years of that war.
Iraq War spending accounted for just 3.2% of all federal spending while it lasted.
Iraq War spending was not even one quarter of what we spent on Medicare in the same time frame.
Iraq War spending was not even 15% of the total deficit spending in that time frame. The cumulative deficit, 2003-2010, would have been four-point-something trillion dollars with or without the Iraq War.
The Iraq War accounts for less than 8% of the federal debt held by the public at the end of 2010 ($9.031 trillion).
During Bushâ€™s Iraq years, 2003-2008, the federal government spent more on education that it did on the Iraq War. (State and local governments spent about ten times more.)
With respect to “human costs,” US casualties during the Iraq War were lower than casualties produced by accidents during peace-time twenty years earlier.
YEAR//TOTAL MILITARY FTE//NBR OF U.S. Military Deaths
(a) FTE = Full Time Equivalent personnel, based on DoD fiscal year-end totals
Now, here are the comparable totals for the most recent, four-year period:
Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress, American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics, Updated June 29, 2007
With respect to “failed wars,” Andrew & company are obviously wildly rhetorically over-reaching. Iraq may not have been transformed by the Bush Administration’s efforts into a perfect democracy and the peacable kingdom, enjoying perfect domestic comity and able to serve as a model of superb administration and happy Westernization, but neither is Iraq any longer a major regime sponsor of terrorism and regional troublemaker. Its government is infinitely more democratic than it used to be, and the people and leadership groups of Iraq have a decidedly greater opportunity to make their own choices, for good or ill, than they did under the national socialist tyranny of Baathism. The invasion and occupation of Iraq may have led to a less conclusively positive result than might be desired, but it certainly compares favorably to the results of previous American military efforts in Korea (which left the enemy isolated, but actively making mischief and building –and potentially disseminating– weapons of mass destruction ) and in Vietnam (where the enemy won and went on to occupy and enslave a US ally).
Domestic traitors, like Andrew Sullivan and the democrat party, who opportunistically switched positions on the war and began enthusiastically lending aid and comfort to the enemy, undermining the morale of the American public, libeling the motives of our actions, and impugning the justice of our cause obviously had a great deal to do with the prolongation of the war and the American government’s cloture of the mission in Iraq without complete success at pacification and democratization.
The Dish preaching about “failed wars” is rather like Lord Haw-Haw or Tokyo Rose during WWII denouncing Allied efforts to maintain troop morale always at enthusiastic levels, after years of broadcasting Axis propaganda.