Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community
We Can't Do It Without You!  
     
Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives
   
 
   Featured Views  
 

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
 
 
Occupation Of Iraq Is Taking A Costly Toll In Lives And Money
Published on Tuesday, July 15, 2003 by the Gainesville Times (Georgia)
Occupation Of Iraq Is Taking A Costly Toll In Lives And Money
Editorial
 

The September homecoming anticipated for about 9,000 members of Fort Stewart's 3rd Infantry Division is on hold. Indefinitely.

The division has borne the brunt of battle in the war against Iraq. Thirty-six of the outfit's soldiers have been killed, the most of any American unit in Iraq, since fighting began in late March.

Last week, the 3rd Infantry Division's commander, Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount III, said that he hoped the 1st and 2nd Brigade combat teams could be home in about six weeks. On Monday, the Army said that the division's stay in Iraq would be extended. There is no timeframe for bringing elements of the division home, the Army said.

The 3rd Infantry Division deployed 16,500 troops to Iraq. They were in the vanguard of the assault on Baghdad and have led missions to root out armed Iraqis who remain loyal to deposed leader Saddam Hussein.

The 3rd Infantry Division has done its job admirably. Its troopers deserve to be sent home to their families.

But they'll stay in Iraq until the Bush administration figures out how to extricate them and other American units and set up a stable and reliable Iraqi government.

The notion that Iraqis would welcome American forces with open arms and that an Iraqi government friendly to Western interests could be quickly installed was, at best, far-fetched. Since President Bush declared that the major fighting was over in early May, American troops have been dying at the rate of about one per day and the Iraqis are nowhere close to effectively ruling themselves.

No timetable was articulated before the war for an exit and none apparently exists now. In fact, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday that the Bush administration has no idea how long U.S. forces will have to remain in Iraq or how much keeping them there will cost.

Last week, Rumsfeld told Congress that it currently it is costing the United States between $3.9 and $4 billion a month to keep occupation forces in Iraq. It is impossible, he said, to project future costs.

No one said the war and its aftermath would be cheap. But the costs, in lives, time and dollars, would, no doubt, be much less if the Bush administration hadn't decided to go it alone on Iraq.

The smart move now would be to go to the United Nations and get its member nations involved in moving Iraq toward stability. That would allow some relief for American units and place the rebuilding effort on a broader world platform.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a presidential candidate, seems to have the right idea: "The obligation of the United States government and the president is to rapidly internationalize the effort in Iraq, get the target off of the American troops, bring other people, particularly Muslim-speaking and Arabic-speaking troops, into the region."

A rotation program, similar to that used for troops during the Vietnam War, also would alleviate the pressure of relying on units like the 3rd Infantry Division for indefinite duty. Without such a program, the morale and determination of the troops will be eroded quickly.

Winning the peace in Iraq is turning out to be more expensive and complex than winning the war. But then, many cautioned the Bush administration about the costs. No one, it seems, was listening.

No timetable was articulated before the war for an exit and none apparently exists now. In fact, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday that the Bush administration has no idea how long U.S. forces will have to remain in Iraq or how much keeping them there will cost.

Copyright ©2003 The Times.

###

Printer Friendly Version E-Mail This Article
 
     
 
 

CommonDreams.org
Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.
Independent, non-profit newscenter since 1997.

Home | About Us | Donate | Signup | Archives

To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.