Friday, February 27, 2009

Bringing Home the Troops

President Obama will announce today his plan for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The plan is to bring home about 90,000 of the about 140,000 troops by August 2010, 19 months after he took office. The remaining 50,000 will serve roles as peacekeepers, consultants to the Iraq army, and protectors of U.S. interests in Iraq. Those remaining troops will be home by the end of 2011. This is a slight adjustment from his campaign promise to the bring the troops home within 16 months and we can only hope that President Obama will keep to this new schedule.

The cost of the war is now over $600 billion, or about $4,681 per household and $341.4 million per day. The full cost of the war is likely to end up around $3 trillion. Much of that money has been spent by Republicans building Iraq's infrastructure, while at the same time chiding the President for spending a similar amount building America's infrastructure. Why it is okay to spend trillions of dollars in Iraq but not in America is beyond my level of comprehension, but seems exactly the opposite of sound logic.

More importantly, the war has now cost us the lives of 4,252 U.S. soldiers and, even worse, we are now approaching 100,000 Iraqi civilian casualties. All for a country that never attacked us, never threatened to attack us, did not have the capability of attacking us and, according to the Pentagon, did not have links to or support the people that did attack us.

The leadership of President Obama has made me feel safer and more hopeful than at any time since September 10, 2001. America deserves a pragmatic leader who strengthens our interests through diplomacy and pragmatism first, and the force of the military as an absolute last resort. I cannot wait to welcome home our troops who have fought bravely, but at the same time mourn the deaths of those who fought and died for an irresponsible war.

12 comments:

Michael said...

I know what you mean about feeling safer and more secure. I always feel safer when I release known Islamic radicals with suicidal tendencies. What jerks we are to suspend certain rights in a time of war to those who want to destroy our nation. The audacity...

SO said...

"Known Islamic radicals" eh? I think that is the major problem with the whole thing. One main reason that many of the prisoners have not had a former trial is lack of evidence. I definitely agree that many of these prisoners are a threat, and need to be treated as such, but civil rights and due process should never be suspended.
Too bad waterboarding is now illegal, so we can't get them all to confess.

Michael said...

Being a military guy, I have a slight hunch that there was intelligence about who we were after over in the sandbox, and what they had done. Pardon me for not feeling it necessary to read someone their Miranda rights, when they don't have any.

Can you imagine if Abraham Lincoln had suspended rights during a time of war?

Oh, wait...

Jacob S. said...

Michael,

First of all, comparing the war of terror to the Civil War, on any level, is a farce. There is almost zero connection between the two and what Abraham Lincoln did during that war should serve as little precedence for what our current presidents should do during the war on terror.

Second, there is actually plenty of evidence coming out that some of these men were not threats to America and your attempt to paint them all as "radicals with suicidal tendencies" is inaccurate at least and racial fear-mongering at most.

Third, some of the men there are/were American citizens and this country is based on law and order and rights. When we start denying rights and the process of law to American citizens picked up in non-combat zones we are attacking the very foundation of our nation and values that we hold dear.

Fourth, no one has ever suggested that we simply open the doors at let all the prisoners go, so that is a straw-man argument on your part and is another example of Republican fear-mongering. The idea is to close Guantanamo because it housed torture and was an example of the decayed moral culture of the Bush administration. For our own good as a nation we are going to close it and move the prisoners elsewhere and finally begin the process of deciding, based on evidence and human decency, who needs to stay locked up and who should be released. These men are not simply going to get dropped off in downtown LA or NYC. They won't be left in a bundle on your doorstep with a ticking bomb around their necks. Those that committed crimes against the nation and are legitimate threats will be locked up, those that aren't will be shipped home. How you could possibly know from your little house and computer that they are all magnificent threats to our country is laughable.

Michael said...

The laughable thing is that you don't believe that those released to their own countries won't, or in some cases haven't, rejoined with their despicable ilk, coming out emboldened by the fact that the "great satan" didn't eliminate them.

As for American citizens who claim they didn't commit any crime, fine... give them their trial. If they are found not guilty, let them go. But when you find out that you are housing an innocent man you don't close the jail.

And Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus. The Patriot Act in part suspended habeus corpus, de jure or de facto. Apparently doing what worked during a time of war should not serve as precedence?

As far as racial fear-mongering... if we were attacked by the Chinese, I'd probably have a tendency to be cautious about people of Chinese background. If we were attacked by a nation of 1 armed, cross-eyed red-heads, I would probably do a double take if I saw one. It's human nature. I'd love to put on my PC glasses and not notice differences, but the world just doesn't work that way. We were attacked by radicals from the middle-east. If we find a middle-eastern man holding an RPG labeled "Allah Akbar, death to America", there is a good chance we need to take him in for questioning.

So pardon me for being SO racist, but if it looks like a terrorist and acts like a terrorist, it is probably a terrorist. Or non-combatant, or whatever the proper term is this week. And I don't feel bad if we pour some water on his head to get him to talk. That's not torture.

Mark my words, they aren't done trying to kill us. My information doesn't come from a google search.

Now if you'll excuse me... I have some diversity training to attend.

Jacob S. said...

Informer,

You are avoiding the very heart of the argument, the only thing worth arguing about. How do you, or any other person, know that these are all bad people, that they're terrorists? Just because they are Muslim? Because you served in the military at one point? Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were white terrorists, so does that mean that every white person should be looked at with suspicion? You say being racist is just a matter of fact and we can't do anything about it, I say only if we allow it. We should appeal to our higher values and actually judge people on the facts of their detention instead of the the color of their skin or nation of origin.

If we can't put them through at least military trials, we cannot know who they are and what they've done, if anything. Of course many of them are terrorists, no one is doubting that, but we don't know which are and which aren't. I can't except such a system and the American people can't either, and that is why we elected a President with a new vision and new direction.

Also, you used that old straw-man again, threatening that if we close Guantanamo it is really just releasing the prisoners into the streets. Please stop lying about that.

Finally, as for habeus corpus, if you can't see the basic difference between the Civil War and the war on terror then you are missing something crucial. During the Civil War Americans were fighting against Americans on American soil. The war was right on American soil waged by Americans, and it was over the very existence of the nation itself. The war on terror is a nebulous term used to identify any number of United States actions against a (now that Afghanistan is out of Taliban control) non-state group operating mainly in the Middle East. So on the one hand you had thousands and thousands of Southern rebels being detained during a war in America based on succession from the Union. On the other hand you have about 245 detainees picked up mostly from overseas in a war that has no definitive beginning and no way to judge its end. Are you suggesting that as long as terrorism exists we should suspend habeus corpus? Because that is ridiculous.

A licky boom-boom down.

Andrew said...

'During the Civil War Americans were fighting against Americans on American soil. The war was right on American soil waged by Americans, and it was over the very existence of the nation itself. The war on terror is a nebulous term used to identify any number of United States actions against a (now that Afghanistan is out of Taliban control) non-state group operating mainly in the Middle East'

It's highly unfortunate, but I don't think many Republicans get that distinction. To them this is a war on our soil, however crazy that may be to fathom. I've always wondered how, in their fevered minds, the "terrorists" were going to threaten our existence as a nation, or our rights and liberties. So how is that whole terrorist invasion supposed to work? Like some sort of low-rent version of Red Dawn? Do you really fear swarthy brown people storming West Valley (or Eagle Mountain)?

Michael said...

Wow... I feel like I just "got served" on the playground. Now, quick! Give each other a round of high-fives.

Because I served in the military at one point? I am still in the military. I invite you to join up. It's not just a job, it's an adventure.

I never said anything about being flat-out racist. Spin can be fun though. I'm talking about during war (which this is) you notice an enemy typically by their nationality. The complicated part is when the enemy isn't a state, but a group of people who have hijacked a state. Then you have to be careful, but I'm willing to bet that the ones who launch mortars at our bases are PROBABLY bad guys. That's the opposite of good guys. And I don't fear an attack on West Valley (or Eagle Mountain), because we are keeping the war over there. That's how war works. Keep it off your soul whenever possible. But I know... I am Republican, and therefore a warmonger, and have a "fevered" mind.

Speaking of generalities, I also only see things in black and white. Another classic Republican trait. No grays, no colors. Therefore if anyone attacks Americans, white, black, Chinese, or "swarthy brown people" as it was so eloquently put, or even other Americans, then you are absolutely right... they are terrorists.

I agree that those arrested on American soil under only suspicion should be tried and released. We were dealing with a threat we had never dealt with before, and I'm sure we got some of the wrong guys. That can happen during a war. It sucks, but it can happen. But as we learned from WWII, there are sleepers who are working for the other team, and you sometimes have to suspend rights to eliminate the threat. So with them, yes... try them, and if not guilty, release them. But those who we found in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere, who have waged terror and continue to try, do not have those rights. They are not Americans.

And when the southern confederate states seceded and it's armies attacked the northern union states, until they were defeated and were readmitted into the union, they stopped being Americans too. But, unlike the members of various factions of al Qaeda and the like, at least they operated as a military under a flag. That did afford them more rights then should be given to 99.9% of Gitmo residents.

I never said they should be released to the streets. The Pentagon (that building that a plane was flown into where Generals meet) has confirmed that as many as 61 detainees released have returned to their former activities. At least one has been confirmed as heading a faction of al Qaeda. But you are right...

No threat there.

But I have to say... I'm impressed that you know the lyrics. It's a great song.

SO said...

I'm curious about your statement Michael:

"But those who we found in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere, who have waged terror and continue to try, do not have those rights. They are not Americans."

Are you trying to say that Americans are somehow superior to the rest of the world? Or are you saying that those accused of a crime are devoid of all rights?

In your vernacular, I guess my response would be something like "Tule Lake and Topaz were awesome!"

I also suggest that you clarify some of your facts before you through them around. The pentagon announced that 61 detainees, of 100 released, are suspected of returning to former activity. 18 have been confirmed, with 43 suspected. Google turned this up:

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4340

What about the 39 that apparently didn't return to their old ways? Statistically speaking, we're on the border of insignificance. In other words, pick up a randomly stereotypically profiled person, and flip a coin. Heads your a terrorist, tails your just a potential threat and we better lock you up for safe keeping.

The callused indifference to humanity is nauseating. The only justification for prolonged incarceration is evidence. It's the American way, and if you are the moral compass of the world, then perhaps acting like it by treating all men equal. If we can't do it on the basis of our nationality, then perhaps on the foundation of or divinity.

Michael said...

What I am saying is that those who are not American do not adhere to, fall under, or give a dang about our constitution.

Obviously the catch and release game is bringing back the same fish, but hey, it's only statistics.

Evidence: found on the battlefield waging war against Americans. Doesn't get much clearer than that.

Andrew said...

Ah yes, the old saw about "61" detainees returning to combat... Dispensed with here:

http://law.shu.edu/administration/public_relations/press_releases/2009/shl_defense_dept_wrong_on_gtmo.htm

I don't trust a fair amount of military intelligence that gets reported in public, especially that generated during the Bush Administration. They have a history of, to quote a famous British document "fitting the facts" to their theories. It's propaganda designed to try and make Obama look bad for releasing Gitmo detainees or trying them as regular criminals.

Matthew said...

There are a lot of statements on this, but I think the key principle is human rights given to those people around the world. If we can give the rights of Americans to our enemies then what kind of a country are we. There are too many arguments that are on the side of the prisoners if we do not have the evidence then we can keep them its as simple as that. Evidence that we get as a result of torture is not evidence at all. The truth is that we may not always be the toughest country n the block and one day our soldiers will be in the custody of other nations and we will want them to do unto others as we have dine unto them. These are the reasons why we cant torture it is a violation of human rights. Michael you keep throwing your military service around like it’s some kind of get out of jail free card. I value your service I think you should too. It doesn’t give you the right to be so condescending to the other bloggers. By saying things like trust me we will get attacked again makes me think of phrases like I know more then you know because I worked intelligence blab you might as well say I would tell you but I would have to kill you. As Americans we cant torture we just cant it goes against our beliefs if we only save our rights for those in our country then we are kind of hypocritical.