The end of the Iraq War brings a welcome close to a domestic and foreign policy disaster. Some politicians have criticized the president saying that we should not withdraw, and that our interests in the Middle East could be harmed. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) along with presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have advanced some variation of this argument. McCain and Graham voted for the war without voting to fund it.
These politicians display their blatant hypocrisy when they argue to continue the war without explaining how they will pay for it. After months of complaining about the national debt and excessive government spending, McCain, Graham, Romney and Gingrich owe us that much.
The cost of the Iraq war is staggering, more than 4,470 American soldiers dead and more than 30,180 wounded. More than 100,000 documented civilian deaths and 2.8 million displaced Iraqis. The direct cost of the war is $806 billion, and the total economic cost will be between $3 trillion and $5 trillion. (Just think how many jobs would have been created and how great are roads, bridges and schools would be if that money had been spent on infrastructure.)
In addition, the damage to moral authority of the United States is staggering. The Bush Administration created a false association between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorists attacks. We lied about the weapons of mass destruction. We allowed the use of torture, which has been outlawed in this country since the Revolutionary War. We have ignored international treaties that demand the investigation and prosecution of suspected war criminals. Since former President George W. Bush admitted personally approving waterboarding, an investigation is not only warranted, but also necessary to help regain our international reputation.
The Iraq War did meet the foreign policy goals of one country. Unfortunately, the country is Iran. Our wasteful foray into Iraq accomplished many of Iran’s foreign policy goals at virtually no cost for that country.
From almost any view, the Iraq War has been a disaster for this country. The danger is not ending the war—it is continuing it.
McCain, Graham, Romney and Gingrich, are you listening?