It’s well past time we removed George W. Bush from office.
On a relative scale of offenses, if President Clinton deserved his impeachment, then Mr. Bush has long deserved impeachment, removal from office, criminal charges and incarceration. But, given the politics of the day - Republican control of all houses of government, the American post-9/11 fear factor, the cowardice of the mass media - Mr. Bush has not only escaped accountability, he has largely escaped scrutiny.
So let’s apply some scrutiny to a variety of telling numbers that have cropped up in the last few days.
"The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq…The new numbers underscore that the war is going to be far more costly and intense, and last longer, than the administration first suggested…" (Washington Post, 10/26/04)
Considering that the war is being paid for with deficit dollars, we might want to keep in mind that the $225 billion is before interest. Granted, we don’t have much to show for the money - a country in chaos and 1100 American soldiers dead - but we do have the distinction of getting nowhere fast. As noted in the Post article, an economist at Yale University "estimates that in inflation-adjusted terms…the Vietnam War cost about $500 billion from 1964 to 1972…The cost of the Iraq war could reach nearly half that number by next fall, two-and-a-half years after it began."
More numbers? How about a dramatic increase in the U.S. troop levels in Iraq? From USA Today (10/25/04): "Concerned that they won’t get enough new troops from allies to help provide security for Iraqi elections in January, Pentagon officials are considering increasing the current U.S. force by delaying the departures of some U.S. troops now in Iraq and accelerating the deployment of others scheduled to go there next year…[raising] the number of U.S. troops in Iraq from the current 138,000 to almost 160,000 ..."
To measure the degree of disaster that Iraq has become, just remember that the Pentagon had initially predicted troop levels of 50,000 or less by the end of 2003. Mr. Bush continues to view the war in Iraq through rose-colored glasses (perhaps more accurately, he’s been peddling those rose-colored glasses to the American public), but all the evidence shows that the war has been a catastrophic failure.
On a lesser scale - but part of the same problem - the New York Times (10/25/04) reports: "The top civilian contracting official for the Army Corps of Engineers…[charged] that the Army granted the Halliburton Company large contracts for work in Iraq and the Balkans without following rules designed to ensure competition and fair prices to the government…The official…said that in at least one case she witnessed, Army officials inappropriately allowed representatives of Halliburton to sit in as they discussed the terms of a contract the company was set to receive…[Halliburton’s] operations in Iraq, involving work for more than $10 billion, have also been dogged by charges of overbilling and waste ..."
Certainly the money wasted on Halliburton and other war profiteers could have been put to much better use - say, to establish an American government facility for developing flu vaccine, to assure sufficient quantities. The conservatives would, of course, be aghast - "Socialized vaccine!" - but the numbers speak for themselves. According to a recent Newsweek article, "The flu virus…strikes as many as 56 million Americans each year, causing 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths. Routine vaccination can almost always prevent the condition."
36,000 dead each year. Let’s put that in perspective: That’s roughly ten times the number of people killed in the September 11 attacks.
Another number in the news of late: 380. That’s the number of tons - tons - of powerful explosives reported missing from an Iraq weapons facility called Al Qaqaa. (It took less than a single pound of the same type of explosive to destroy Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.) Some details regarding the inaction of the Bush administration: "The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured…Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not guarded…" (New York Times, 10/25/04).
According to an Associated Press article, a militant group claims to have obtained a "huge amount of the explosives that were in the Al-Qaqaa facility…We promise God and the Iraqi people that we will use it against the occupation forces and those who cooperate with them in the event of these forces threatening any Iraqi city."
Allowing such a vast amount of weaponry to fall into the hands of the enemy - surely this can be considered treason through incompetence.
The Congress won’t do anything about it.
On Tuesday, it’s up to us.