Uncle Remus warned us of situations like this. But we didn’t catch the moral of the story, and now Iraq is the Tar Baby to end all Tar Babies. It was easy to get our hands on it, but things are getting sticky. Water and sewage systems don’t work. Electricity is on again, off again. Schools and hospitals and destroyed or overwhelmed. Every hotheaded kid in the Middle East wants to take a shot or throw a rock at our troops. The oil that was supposed to finance reconstruction is coming out in a trickle. We’ve spent $79,000,000,0000 so far, and Mr. Bush just asked for $87,000,000,000 more. Many now reckon the long-term cost will be at least $1,000,000,000,000. Plus a number of dead people. Mr. Bush says we’ll spend whatever it takes, make whatever sacrifice is needed. Easy for him to say.
So with a $1,000,000,000,000 bill coming due, with over three hundred of our friends and neighbors coming home in body bags, and with Iraq sliding into chaos, let’s look at what we’ve got for our money and sacrifice:
Biological weapons uncovered: 0
Chemical weapons uncovered: 0
Nuclear weapons uncovered: 0
Ties to Al Qaeda uncovered: 0
There. Do you feel safer now? Has it all been worth it?
It’s a mess of our own making, and true to those old American values of independence and self-reliance, the administration is now asking the U.N. to send troops and money to help control the Iraqi population and foot the bill for rebuilding the place. This is the same administration that has badmouthed and bypassed the U.N. whenever possible, has belittled allies like France and Germany as “old Europe,” and thoroughly enjoyed its spitefulness in things like renaming French fries “freedom fries.” We want a multinational force—but under U.S. control. We want Europe’s money to rebuild Iraq, but we want our colonial governor, Paul Bremer, and our handpicked Iraqi collaborators, to hold all the power. To sum it up: we insult them, ignore them, act on our own, then ask them to send money and troops while we hold on to control. Why aren’t they keen on a deal like that?
Where is all that money going to come from? Let’s see. Mr. Bush has pushed through two huge tax cuts, in which 42% of the cuts go to the top 1% income bracket. So who is left to pay for the lies, arrogance, poor planning, mismanagement, and cynical predatory policy? Can you figure it out?
If you reduce government income by cutting taxes, while at the same time you increase military spending at an incredible rate, something has to give. Could it be Social Security? Medicare? Education? The national parks? All of the above?
Who talked you into grabbing that Tar Baby in the first place?
© Tony Russell, 2003