The occupation of Iraq has cost $350 billion, ($102 billion this year alone,) and 3,000 American troops. This is not including the 700,000 Iraqi citizens that have perished due to this occupation. Several democrats, and a few republicans have called for withdrawal from Iraq. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has called for a cut in funding the war effort, and wants the money used to bring troops home. Sen. Russ Feingold wants withdrawal by July 1, 2007. Sen. John Kerry wants withdrawal from six to eight months.
Statements from U.S. military personnel that either served in Iraq, or are still there are very disheartening. One serviceman who was working with the Iraq Army witnessed Iraq Army personnel giving U.S. provided guns and ammunition to Shiite militias, or Death Squads. Since the Iraq Army is 97% Shiite, in essence, the U.S. is helping to fuel their civil war against the Sunnis. (The Nation, 1-7-07.)
He, and over 1,000 military personnel, signed a petition calling for immediate withdrawal of U.S forces. These personnel include everyone from colonels to low level grunts; ¾ are active duty. They have witnessed the chaotic and corruptive actions between the two opposing sects, not to mention lacking the proper equipment for their own survival.
In a September poll conducted by the University of Maryland, 78% of Iraqis feel that the U.S. military is provoking more conflict than it is preventing. To make matters worse, 71%, which includes 74% Shiites, and 91% Sunnis, want the U.S. out of Iraq within a year or less. Last, but not least, 61% of Iraqis favor attacks on U.S. troops.
Withdrawal of U.S. forces would force the Iraqis to be responsible for their own future, and hold their leaders accountable. U.S. soldiers are in a terrible position; they have been forced into the middle of a bloody civil war without a clear mission to abide by. (The Nation, 12/18/06.)
Once again, President Bush has attempted to use fear tactics in order to scare Americans and Congress into thinking that more troops and funding are dire necessities to win the war in Iraq. (Austin American Statesman, 1/9/07.) During his recent public address, he stated that he needs 20,000 more troops and funding in order to "stay the course." What he failed to mention was that by helping the Shiite majority, America has given the impression that we are on their side against the Sunni population. This only exacerbates their hostilities against our troops.
This in itself seems ludicrous. Budget cuts for education, public services, and human resources have crippled the U.S. population as a result of over $350 billion in defense spending. The $105 billion that was used this year alone could have assisted in the re-building of hard hit regions by Hurricane Katrina; our own country seems to matter less than embroiling ourselves in a hopeless civil war to the president.
There have been numerous reports from witnesses, periodicals, and National Public Radio concerning the severely substandard work that private U.S. contractors have been charging for. One building was so decrepit after being completed that water was leaking inside walling; the ceiling actually fell down in areas! Lack of armor is another huge issue for troops. Where has our money really gone?
Until a serious financial investigation is launched by an outside organization concerning the private contractors who have been lining their pockets with taxpayer money, we will never truly know the extent of corruption involved.
Many Americans believe that Bush's call for more troops and allocations for Iraq was made so that he and his friends could profit financially as long as possible. After all, they've gotten away with it so far. America's needs should be the primary focus, not warmongering.