Thursday, September 11, 2008

George Bush Has Put a Bigger Hurt on America than Has Osama bin Laden

When the history of the 21st Century is written,
19 March 2003
will be a bigger date than 11 September 2001.

It will be seen that Bush's needless invasion and endless occupation of Iraq began America's slide from being the preeminent leader of the free world.

I have been posting on this theme at least twice a year for years. And every year, doing the simple arithmetic paints an increasingly uglier picture.

Now that George Bush has had half a decade to drive America to I-wreck and I-ruin, the truth is incontrovertible: Bush's illegal, un-provoked, unnecessary, and largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq has cost our nation more in blood and treasure than has Osama bin Laden.

First, contrast the bloodshed by al Qaeda in America six years ago today with the sacrifices of our troops in Iraq, beginning on 19 March 2003 through today.
OBL: Total Deaths - All 9/11 Attacks: 3,030
OBL: Total Injuries - All 9/11 Attacks: 2,337
GWB: Total US KIA in Iraq: 4,155
GWB: Total U.S. WIA in Iraq: 30,324

What I failed to consider when I initially posted this graphic a year or so ago, is that it can be argued - as I vehemently have argued - that massive American retaliation against Afghanistan was not only justified by the 9-11 attacks, but mandated. Therefore, our costs sustained there in Operation Enduring Freedom are costs which are directly attributable to the 9-11 attacks against us. Therefore, they should be added to the lives lost in the crash of four airliners on 9-11-01.

In Afghanistan, we have lost 584 KIA in the seven years beginning in the last couple of months of 2001. So, adding the Afghanistan theater's 584 to Osama's toll, we derive an al-Qaeda total of 4,358.

So, counting our Afghanistan sacrifices, Bush has pushed through to a break-even point with Osama bin Laden.

It has to be added that Bush's unprovoked attack on Iraq has sapped resources from the pursuit of bin Laden (and corrupted the anti-Taliban cause). Officials with the CIA and the U.S. military said they began shifting resources out of Afghanistan in early 2002 and still haven't recovered from that mistake.

John O. Brennan, a former deputy executive director of the CIA and a former chief of the National Counterterrorism Center was quoted in the Washington Post only yesterday:
Iraq was a fundamental wrong turn. That was the most strategically negative action that was taken. The collective effort in the government required to go after an individual like bin Laden -- the Iraq campaign consumed that.
The WP reminds us that in late 2005, Bush had the CIA disband Alec Station, its special unit dedicated to tracking bin Laden. But a year later, after the disruption of the airliner plot in London was uncovered it was clear that al-Qaeda's core command had made a comeback.

On the financial ledger,
the financial losses due to the four airliners' attacks on 9-11, estimated up to $ 40 billion, (Costs of economic recovery from 9-11, are generally accepted as being less than those of Katrina.) The Department of Defense has not provided Congress with the individual costs of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) as opposed to Operation Iraqi Liberation.

Further discussion of economic costs on my part would be redundant, given the recent authoritative work of Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes. Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize-winning economic professor at Columbia and Bilmes is at Harvard. They have co-authored a monograph with the self-explanatory title, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of The Iraq Conflict. Stiglitz and Bilmes say of Iraq that
. . . the big picture is that, by our most conservative estimates, this war has cost an almost unimaginable $3 trillion. A more realistic estimate, however, is closer to $5 trillion once you include all the downstream "off budget costs" of long-term veteran benefits and treatment, the costs of restoring the now depleted military to its pre-war strength, the considerable costs of actually withdrawing from Iraq and repositioning forces elsewhere in the region.
I'm going to take their word for it. The economic evidence is conclusive and the jury's verdict is in.

Let's add to the ledger, that as a result of Bush's reckless adventure in Iraq, our military is stretched to the breaking point. Finally, of penultimate importance to our global war on terror, would be an international consensus on how to wage it. Al Qaeda's 2001 attacks on New York and Washington gave us an overwhelming groundswell of sympathy throughout the world. By the time Bush mobilized for his unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Iraq 4½ years ago, he had squandered that foundation of support. In fact, Bush's war was the first war in history to garner world-wide demonstrations against it on the day before his invasion of Iraq began.

It is George W. Bush, who has put the biggest hurt on Americans, in squandering our blood, our economic resources, our military assets, and our international esteem.
Source for statistics:
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count