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Is It Important When American Troops Come Home?

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I think yes. McCain thinks no.

First, his side…

Now, mine…

Once again it appears that McCain is trying to reframe the goal of the surge by saying it’s a success because fewer troops are getting killed. And while he’s correct that casualty rates are dropping, our men and women are still dying at an average of 1 every 1.5 days. More still are getting seriously wounded or injured. And let’s not even get into the military’s massive PTSD problem.

As I and many have said in the past, reducing violence in Iraq was only meant to be a strategy to enable the goal of political progress…which hasn’t happened and is presently in limbo. How much longer will we wait until the Iraqis get their act together? McCain seems to suggest as long as it takes, but there’s no evidence to suggest that continuing to stay will make things any better or motivate Iraqi politicos to move faster to secure their own country and work towards a stable democracy.

Another thing, McCain is attempting to draw parallels to other locales we’ve occupied as the model for Iraq. However, his argument just doesn’t square. America wasn’t pouring hundreds of billions into South Korea, Japan or Germany, nor were we experiencing post-war casualties anywhere close to rate in Iraq. And I know that McCain is talking about getting to a similar reality in Iraq, but there are no guarantees of that.

So this leads me to the reasons why it’s important to know when our troops are coming home…

First, there are the fiscal costs of maintaining such large troop levels in Iraq. This excursion into the Middle East has been extremely costly, and since we didn’t have the money to conduct it in the first place, our rampant borrowing from foreign governments to fund it has been responsible for helping drive down the value of the dollar and ultimately resulting in higher prices for consumers stateside.

Second, there has been no discernible safety gains from our presence in Iraq as the number of terrorists and terrorist acts has actually increased since 9/11. Many poo-poo this stat, but if we’re fighting a “War on Terrorism”, more of it means we’re losing. Honestly, I wish we’d reframe the entire “war” thing, but I’m just using what Bush and McCain are giving us.

Third, because our resources have been diverted to Iraq, our government has been limited in their capacity to invest in alternative energy sources…which nearly everybody acknowledges as being THE key to strangling terrorism once and for all. Oil money funds terrorism. No getting around it. Thankfully, McCain has an alternative energy plan, but how will he pay for it if we’re continuing to divert billions to Iraq? And what’s more, how much quicker would we realize energy independence with those billions being diverted away from Iraq and into alternative energy development? I think the smart money would be on “a lot quicker.”

What’s the conclusion? Well, McCain’s latest statement could really hurt him because it plays right back into that “100 years” comment he flippantly made early in the campaign. Yes, lowering the troop casualty rate is important and nobody will deny that, but there are other things to consider and McCain’s simplistic view of what “success” means in Iraq is almost bound to draw intense scrutiny. Not only from those who heard him talk recently about a possible 2013 timetable, but also from those whose chief concern is America’s economic future.

Long story short, the quicker we can get our troops home, the quicker we can start to refocus our efforts on what really matters: American prosperity.