What Ed Has to Believe

Strolling amidst the crowd of the latest Tea Party, Ed Fitzpatrick reflected as follows:

I’ve got to believe the health-care law is going to do more good than the Iraq war, and I wondered if Tea Party members were concerned that the cost of the war had reached $717.5 billion as of Thursday, according to the National Priorities Project (costofwar.com).

I don’t begrudge Fitzpatrick’s shorthand use of the faith-based statement, “I’ve got to believe”; after all a full year of columns could be penned in defending the belief. Still, it’s worth a question mark.
One could argue the execution of the war, its justifications, and its costs (both expected and actual), but from our current vantage point, it was overall a benefit to the United States and the world. In less than a decade, Iraq has moved from a reckless and brutal tyranny to the second most legitimately democratic governing system in the Middle East, after Israel. In short, cost removed, the action was to the better.
The healthcare legislation, on the other hand (the hand understood by most tea partiers), will make things worse. Costs will continue to go up, and they now come with a government mandate, absorbing taxes, decreasing employment opportunity, limiting innovation, and restricting access to services. That’s a negative consequence.
Even without taking into account, in other words, the difference that the Iraq war will quickly decrease in costs from here into the future, it simply isn’t the case that a negative action “does more good” than a positive action.

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Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

Except you’re missing the biggest cost of the Iraq war. Thousands of lives of US men and women. For no reason. There was no reason to go into Iraq except to finish Daddy’s war. Daddy trusted the UN that they would follow through on what he started. They didn’t and Clinton didn’t, so W felt he needed to finish it.
If W had simply stayed the course and stayed in Afghanistan or put the pressure on Pakistan to go after bin Laden, and possibly eventually caught him, W would have gone down as one of the greatest presidents ever. His going into Iraq is one of the dumbest moves ever by a US president.
I don’t think they can both be evaluated with costs removed. The cost of needless loss of human life can never be removed from that equation. As for that cost fading away after a few years, just ask the families of our soldiers.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“In short, cost removed, the action was to the better.”
I’m not so sure about that. Before the war, America was the country that “did not start wars, but finished them.” Now we are widely seen as an aggressor country that uses the laughable preemption doctrine to attack other nations, justified or not. Then there is the massive loss of life, among American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. Lots of negatives to this war aside from the cost, which has been staggering.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>>n short, cost removed, the action was to the better.
If you were the one who lost your legs, your life, your family, your sanity, your house or anything else – I somehow think your opinion might be different.
By ANY historical measure, this is/was a Fiasco! Read the book with that title, and then talk to me……
Hey, Justin, everything turns out just fine in the end….we all die and forget.
Aren’t you the one spending every waking minute trying to wrestle a few percent out of teachers, police, fire and others….and now you say “cost aside” when it comes to lives, limbs, treasures, etc?
Strange.
Again, please don’t try to rewrite history. Iraq was and is a debacle…..like Vietnam was also. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Your “logic” would say that if I spend $1,000,000 for a VW which actually drives, it was a good deal “cost aside”.
You are a funny man!

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

“Now we are widely seen as an aggressor country that uses the laughable preemption doctrine to attack…”
Agreed. And when anyone uses that as justification, then the question has to be what about North Korea? Saudi Arabia? Venezuela? Even a country like Brazil? Heck, why not Mexico with all the drug and human trafficking there? Why did we only choose Iraq for the “pre-emption”?
Although, my conspiracy theory answer for why we went into Iraq actually has very little to do with Iraq. Look at a map. We just went in and took over Afghanistan, Turkey is friendly, Pakistan is friendly. All countries surrounding Iran. I think that’s where the US has the fear in the Middle East and wants to keep the Iranians well aware that US military is standing on all their borders with guns aimed right at them. Keep your nose clean.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

In the 1960’s it was “Make Love, Not War!”
Under the Obama regime, it’s “”Make Welfare, Not War!”

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Patrick, I didn’t “forget” the cost of lives. Fitzpatrick mentioned the budget, and that was what I responded to. It does highlight, though, how different healthcare policy is from military policy. Be that as it may, if the current legislation remains, I’d wager that its ultimate death toll turns out to be higher than that of Iraq. (And that’s not even including potential increases in abortions.) —- Dan, No. Before Iraq, America was the nation that couldn’t bring itself to win anything more than a limited military strike. After Iraq, America is a country that can topple a dictatorship, ultimately adjust its strategy as needed, and build up the infrastructure of the invaded nation so that it can move toward democratic rule. I find it unbelievable that you think the post-Vietnam, post-Iraq 1 storyline of the American military was that it finished wars. As for the “what if” question if we hadn’t invaded: Hussein would have seen the end of sanctions sooner than later (what with all of the corrupt oil money flowing through international halls), and he would have revved up the WMD machine that he’d been keeping primed (which is the least that we can assert). Then, he may very well have leveraged the terrorist connections that he’d developed (including with al Qaeda) to deploy WMDs in a way that didn’t trace back to him. And, moreover, the people of Iraq would still be suffering under his rule. The call on whether to enter into the war is not a slam dunk, but it certainly hasn’t been proven to be an unmitigated error. And even if entering was an error, the end result was positive. The brave men and women from the United States and allied nations who gave their lives did not do so for a “fiasco.”… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Well, Justin, I dare once again say that the RI folks have reason and logic – that is, you aside!
It is only fair for you to study the total cost when you make your calculations. Since we all know that every cent of the War money is borrowed, the real cost has to include interest for many years. In addition to that, if we removed all our troops from there today, the ongoing costs in Vets care, replacement of equipment and other stuff would go on for decades.
Actual estimated cost of the Iraq debacle will be about 2 trillion, more of less. That does not include the millions of displaced innocents, our dead soldiers, our reputation and much more.
There is no scenario except for a deeply neo-con one (fantasy) where you can spin this one.
My concern is not your ignorance of the facts. My concern is we won’t learn our lessons.
Of course, Justin, you seem to skip over the polls and stories which show the “Obama Effect” on things like our international standing. There IS a war for hearts and minds all over the world – and Bush lost that war, while Obama is winning it back for us.
Check out the BBC polling story from yesterday!
“Positive views of the United States increased by double digits in Germany, Portugal, Russia and Chile, while negative views declined by double digits in Spain, France and the United Kingdom. America has “motored past” China “in the global soft-power competition”
Again, Inconvenient facts for someone who does not care about the truth and is blatantly partisan.
I suppose your next “story” will tell us how the new Nuclear reduction treaty is bad…..

swazool
swazool
11 years ago

“I’d wager that its ultimate death toll turns out to be higher than that of Iraq. (And that’s not even including potential increases in abortions.)”
Actually with health care expanded to more people there will a positive effect on the health of people. Especially the unborn. Just think of the pre-natal care that women and unborn will be receiving now that they will be covered? Taking care of women when they are pregnant will decrease the amount of children born before term, so there will be an increase in the number of healthy babies.
(Decrease in the March of Dime babies)

mangeek
mangeek
11 years ago

“he would have revved up the WMD machine that he’d been keeping primed (which is the least that we can assert). Then, he may very well have leveraged the terrorist connections that he’d developed (including with al Qaeda) to deploy WMDs in a way that didn’t trace back to him. And, moreover, the people of Iraq would still be suffering under his rule.”
Or we could have taken him out with a surgical strike, offered the next guy a deal for oil that he couldn’t refuse, and proceeded to do business. Yes, it violates the executive order on assassination, but I think it’s clearly the lesser of two evils (the greater being an actual ground war).
Al Qaeda could have been taken out similarly, lots and lots of CIA and Special Forces… Kill the bad guys only. Most estimates were that there were only a few thousand Al Qaeda at their peak, not a reason to go government-building or put tank treads through villages.
Also, -what- WMD machine? -What- Al Qaeda connections? All I’ve heard of are flimsy, unactionable connections.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Well, I think Justin and Dan are right!
If these comments are as far “right” and “conservative” as Rhodys can get, it’s time for Justin to move to SC or VA.
No hope, in the neo-con sense, for the poor state of RI.
On the other hand, he should be proud of the independent thinking that his fellow staties display above. I sure am!
Apparently, all those teachers unions are teaching SOMETHING….and, it seems to be the most important thing – independent thought!

rhody
rhody
11 years ago

When we ban abortions, we’re doing God’s work, right?
But God forbid we do anything to help the babies of women who’ve considered abortion live healthy lives. That’s just wasteful spending, right?
It’s good to see Justin’s keeping the “life begins at conception and ends at birth” caucus alive and well.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Rhody- you frequently sound like an ass.
I’m pro-life and pro-well bay care through puberty even if it comes out of my taxes-that is not a waste of money.SUV’s for scumbag trial attorneys serving as legislators certainly is a waste of my money.
Stop the shotgun approach and I’ll stop busting your chops.

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

Can we just finally get Joe and Rhody in a cage together for 5 minutes and get this ended for once? Please? I’ll even pay money to see it.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

“Before the war, America was the country that ‘did not start wars, but finished them.’ Now we are widely seen as an aggressor country that uses the laughable preemption doctrine to attack other nations, justified or not.”
That’s a powerful myth and one that’s tough to combat, even among so-called liberals. It’s completely without merit and outright laughable when said pretty much anywhere but here in the United States of Amnesia.
Instances of Use of United States Armed
Forces Abroad, 1798-2009

Blum has a great book for those interested. Here’s his list:
United States waging war/military action, either directly or in conjunction with a proxy army:
* China 1945-61
* Greece 1947-49
* Philippines 1945-53
* Korea 1950-53
* Guatemala 1953-90
* Indonesia 1957-59
* Haiti 1959
* Vietnam 1961-73
* Cambodia 1955-73
* Laos 1957-73
* Thailand 1956-73
* Peru 1965
* Dominican Republic 1965
* Cuba 1961
* Angola 1975-80s
* Nicaragua 1979-90
* Philippines 1980s-90s
* South Yemen 1979-84
* Grenada 1983
* Libya 1980s
* Panama 1989
* Afghanistan 1979-92
* El Salvador 1981-92
* Somalia 1993
* Iraq 1991-present
* Colombia 1990s-present, intermittently
* Serbia 1999
* Afghanistan 2001-present
* Pakistan 2007-present

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

Nice list Russ. Looks like we’ve been kicking some big time “red ass” all over the globe. No wonder you and your leftist ilk are red with anger. lol
I believe it was Justin who made the point that in dollars and lives lost Obamacare will be far more costly than the Iraq war. That is an absolutely true statement. Rationed healthcare will have a devastating effect on the elderly, poor and chronically ill while doing nothing to reign in costs acros the board.
Ed Fitzpatrick is a complete waste of time.

MadMom
MadMom
11 years ago

The point that seems to evade Mr. Fitzpatrick is that the Iraq war has nothing to do with the basic tenets of the tea party. In his own little universe, he may imagine that all tea partiers share the same view about Iraq, but he is, like most lefties, sadly misinformed about what the tea party stands for. We unanimously oppose Obamacare. But tea partiers are all over the map when it comes to America’s intervention in Iraq. Would he assume at an anti-war rally that all participants were pro-Obamacare? From what information would he come to that conclusion? His assumptions are based on his own bias, and demonstrate his intellectual limitations as a columnist quite clearly.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Mangeek,
Given all that’s on my plate, I don’t have time to re-argue the entire Iraq war, but if you’re interested, I spent a lot of time on it around the middle of the decade, here, on Dust in the Light, and elsewhere.
The upshot of post-invasion intelligence was that Hussein had taken pains to keep his WMD machine primed to restart with the end of sanctions. Estimates were that he’d have had weapons ready within months. As for al Qaeda connections, the Big Lie game was to ignore every connection on the grounds that it didn’t link directly to 9/11. Fine. But there was a connection.
The argument for the war — the “preemption” — was that WMDs and terrorist connections in the hand of a rogue regime had to be enough, because the smoking gun turns out to be vaporized blocks or fatally infected populations. You can disagree with that, but understand that those with whom you’re disagreeing aren’t back-filling. Regardless of how insane all those really smart people in the media think we may be, we actually balanced the actual argument for the war and believe that it was vindicated. A storehouse of biological weapons was never necessary for that purpose, because the argument was never that Saddam was about to deploy them the next day.
In any event, as it’s come to mind over the past several hours, I’m still astonished that people are challenging me to “tell it to the wounded” and families of the fallen that the cause for which they sacrificed was a worthy one, while the same people apparently are just fine telling those same wounded and families that their sacrifice was an utter waste for which they, one supposes, were foolish to volunteer.

David S
David S
11 years ago

“The point that seems to evade Mr. Fitzpatrick is that the Iraq war has nothing to do with the basic tenets of the tea party.” The mad mom wrote. I couldn’t describe the tea party mindset better. A No Nothing philosophy. Never mind what happened before, it is only when we the privileged Tea Party people are adversely affected that we raise our heads out of the feeding trough and dumbly, like cows in a thunderstorm, realize there is something terribly wrong.
Justin thinks the consequences of the Iraq war are over. And the consequences of deaths are so easily settled. Only in the warped partisan mind would domestic policy like health care take the place of death and destruction. Only an idiot could place the two together.

michael
michael
11 years ago

madmom, you really should consider toning down the right/left rhetoric, most people I know that might be interested in the tea party steer clear because of the right label. And the choice of spokespersons, ie John Dipietro.
Also, the leader of an organization insulting a columnist’s intellect never goes well.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Of course, mad mom fails to mention that the tea party started out well before health care was in the news…….it was spawned by Corporate bigwigs who simply want to insert their crooks (republicans) back into government.
Their method is simply to get clueless folks like madmom involved and use them for all they are worth – which, IMHO, is not much!
Madmom somehow knows what tea partiers are ALL for…and what they are not! Funny, I’ve debated a lot of tea folks and it’s really rare to find one of them who rants about defense and security spending…..and, yes, Dan, I know you do!
However, most of them quickly start choking when you ask them how they can save on taxes while financing trillions in wars and security.
Sadly, there is no method to their madness. I can only hope they learn to count soon.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Patrick-I’m 63 and have a heart condition.I’m also short.I’m having major surgery next week,but anytime after it heals I’d be glad to throw some with Rhody-same rules that applied when I worked on the street-none.
Trouble is,Rhody is too much of a woos to even tell us who he is.He can find me anytime he wants-it’s not like I’m hiding out behind a stupid alias.
I haven’t had a personal fight in quite a few years,and that was with another cop.So even that was work related.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

The brave men and women from the United States and allied nations who gave their lives did not do so for a “fiasco.” Theirs was a marvelous, historic achievement. Sadly, the citizens whom they have sworn to protect appear to be too far gone (in various directions) to make it an even greater victory.
Posted by Justin Katz at April 20, 2010 12:27 PM
My view is that high culture, wonderful scenery, history, and so on don’t amount to much for families that must work so hard simply to survive that they can’t take in the sights.—History Unexplored and Quality of Life
Justin Katz
Like whining about not having enough time in the day to behave as rich tourist?

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Are you saying, Phil, that high culture, wonderful scenery, history, and so on do amount to much for families that must work so hard simply to survive that they can’t take in the sights?

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>did not do so for a “fiasco.”
Justin, you can beat your chest or “support the troops” all you like, but you cannot change history. The troops who went, voluntarily and otherwise, were ordered to do so by a clueless commander in chief and his boss, Dick Cheney. It took thousands of bad decisions (most completely intentional) to create a war such as that.
I repeat. The Bush Doctrine, including the aggression against Iraq, was and is a fiasco and a failure. That is not an opinion – that is a fact.
You are attempting to use relativism to explain it away – for instance, what exists now is better than if we dropped a nuke on it and killed 10 million people – so it must be good.
Your sad view on Iraq would teach us to continue to do the same thing over and over again. Please, let us know if you are still young enough to volunteer. We need ya!

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

BTW, Justin, what do you think of the fact that the Pope disagrees with your stand on Iraq? Is he wrong?
“For the guardian of Catholic orthodoxy, the obvious conclusion is that the military intervention that is taking shape “has no moral justification” (September 20, interview on the Italian national news program). The Catechism, Ratzinger [now Benedict] explained, does not embrace a pacifist position a priori; indeed, it admits the possibility of a “just war” for reasons of defense. But it sets a number of very strict and reasonable conditions: there must be a proper proportion between the evil to be rooted out and the means employed. In short, if in order to defend a value (in this case, national security) greater damage is caused (civilian victims, destabilization of the Middle East, with its accompanying risks of increased terrorism), then recourse to force is no longer justified. In light of these criteria, Ratzinger refuses to grant the moral status of just war to the military operation against Saddam Hussein.”

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Stuart-even though I also opposed the Iraq war,I find it comical that you (and many other leftists)quote people they normally run down when it suits their purposes.They say”look what even X had to say”or some such,disregarding the fact that they usually are busy vilifying X.
“Thou art hypocrite” to paraphrase Stuart,Rhody,etc.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Katz
I would like to try to answer you, but I too have time restraints at the moment as I am off to work. The short answer is that I agree with you that many working families are being stretched for time and money and do not enjoy the vacation and time off that their counterparts around the world do.
The tragedy of the Iraq War is that it was unneccesary. There were other options available to lessen the danger that Hussein presented in the region.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Phil-I have to agree that the Iraq war couldn’t be justified.We were lied into it just like LBJ lied to us about the Tonkin Gulf incident.It was adventurism to satisfy the needs of a bunch of chckenhawks like Cheney,Perle,Wolfowitz,Feith,and some others.rumsfeld was not a chickenhawk(he had been a naval aviator),just a miserable,arrogant man who wasted American by going with a bad war plan and underequipped and undermanned.We lost whatever chance we had to root out Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and now have the unenviable task of going after them in Waziristan,allegedly “friendly territory”since it’s part of Pakistan,a sometime ally.Of course,it’s not under any semblance of control by Pakistan. I think the fact that Hussein and his entourage are dead and gone is okay,but at what cost?It seemed the sanctions and no fly zones were having some success.People unwilling to serve in wartime shouldn’t advocate for war.Don’t ever think I’m a pacifist or that I agree with Russ that none of our interventions were justified.Some were,some weren’t.We were locked in a long,terrible proxy fight with communism as represented by the USSR and the PRC.We were compelled to act in a number of cases.So were the British. As much as I hate the idea of an involvement in Afghanistan,given their history of never giving in to outsiders,I guess it has to be done.The Taliban could have avoided this situation by turning their back on Al Qaeda,so I’m not going to blaame the US for this situation. We had 3000 civilians murdered -not by our government or the Mossad,as some people at RIF like to insinuate,but by Al Qaeda.Hell,they bragged about it!! Unfortunately,this resulted in part from Jimmy Carter’s ill-conceived support of the Mujahadeen against the Russians.Carter didn’t get much right in his presidency.Actually,Carter still might be worse than Obama,considering his totally clusterf**ed… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Joe, you conveniently left out Reagan and his Arms for Hostages – and it was he who was the vastly larger supporter of Osama and his friends in Afghanistan! Carter did sign the original papers allowing the CIA to covertly operate there – but that right before he left office!
“Upon becoming President, Reagan moved quickly to undermine Soviet efforts to subdue the government of Afghanistan, which the Soviet Army had invaded in 1979.
Islamic mujahideen guerrillas were covertly supported and trained, and backed in their jihad against the occupying Soviets by the CIA. The agency sent billions of dollars in military aid to the guerrillas……
Reagan praised the mujahadeen as freedom fighters battling an evil empire, stating, “To watch the courageous Afghan freedom fighters battle modern arsenals with simple hand-held weapons is an inspiration to those who love freedom. Their courage teaches us a great lesson—that there are things in this world worth defending. To the Afghan people, I say on behalf of all Americans that we admire your heroism, your devotion to freedom, and your relentless struggle against your oppressors.”
At least have some accuracy in your rants. Let’s agree that this particular cold war battle was supported right across the board, but that the majority of the funding and support was granted by RR.
Of course, after Afghanistan ruined the Soviet Union, Reagan took credit for that! So I guess I will have to rewrite history to say that Carter won the cold war!
You can’t have it both ways!
In a historical sense, I think BOTH the Soviets and the USA have, to different extents, destroyed themselves by their greed and aggression.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Well,I liked Reagan a great deal,but he sure wasn’t perfect.You make some vaalid points too.I KNOW first hand how Carter started the mishandling of the immigration situation-it just kept getting worse after that no matter who was the majority party or who held the White House.In that regard Obama is no more misguided than his predecessors,but that’s not a good thing either.
Ford had a modicum of control and a realistic attitude-carter abdicated his responsibility completely.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Carter was a very smart man – but history seems to say that it was his lack of decent staff that saddled his Presidency with poor decisions. The Presidency is a very complicated office, and I don’t think anyone can do it alone.
Reagan at least appointed some adults into the admin…..but also brought in Cheney, Rumsfeld and many of the new neo-cons.
GW could have governed if he listened to the decent people he appointed. But as the book Fiasco shows, Cheney and he dismissed, fired and ran out anyone who attempted to think for themselves….or anyone who came to a different conclusion than Cheney had (back the attack!).
Many of the smartest folks in the CIA, Pentagon, NSA, etc. were thrown out in the buildup to the Iraq war.
That is why I do not look at that debacle as a small mistake or a mistake of bad luck. When you delve into it, it took thousands of actions to make it happen……there is no way that the Justins of the world can argue either that it was successful nor that it was as simple as one or two bad decisions.
We have lots of checks and balances in the system, and they all have to be hardwired open…..for this fiasco to become real.
As he alluded to, Bush decided to listen to a “Higher Father” than HIS father…..when it came to matters of war and peace, etc.
Score one demerit for the Higher Father….although I do agree with his Kin, the Pope.
🙂

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Joe
Colin Powell warned the group of neo cons in the White house that the retail store policy of “you break it , you own it” applied to their designs of occupation after removal of Hussein in Iraq. They (the neo cons) had grand plans for the entire region although they did very little real consulting with Iraq’s neighbors before Bush’s decision. There was to be a “domino effect” with regards to new democracies being created. Joe remember the “domino theory at the beginning of the involvement in Southeast Asia in the 50’s and 60’s.
The terrible decision to use war as foreign policy by Bush’s White house has produced financial debt to this country, death and destruction to Iraq and its people, the lives of our soldiers, injuries physical and mental, and has tied the hands of a new administration. The decision to go to war creates obligations to the people of Iraq and the region that responsible new planners are forced to deal with.
I think you and I agree on some of this.
I’ve gone back to work on the bay sooner than I had expected. The tunnel in Providence worked well and strong moon tides helped also. The price sucks but whatelse is new. Thanks for asking.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Yeah, we do agree on most of this.
Interestingly,Thailand never succumbed to communism.Firstly,they weren’t colonized;secondly the monarchy was (and is)genuinely popular;and they have a fairly robust economy.
Our attempt to stop the “dominos”from falling had exactly the reverse effect in Cambodia and Laos.OTOH in the Korean War we were dealing with blunt force aggression by the North Koreans and PRC.
The results were very positive for South Korea.
The neocons just suck,period.
I’m glad that tunnel is working-it was one of the better uses of public funds I can think of.
Back in Brooklyn they restored the propeller in the flushing tunnel on the Gowanus Canal and now fish actually live in it-it used to be you could smell that open air sewer from a mile away.

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