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Let's Get a Few Things Straight
by Edward L. Daley
24 September 2003Iraqi Flag

Setting the record straight on the nasty nine's complaints regarding the post-war administration of Iraq.

John Kerry, during the last Democratic presidential debate, said that President Bush "clearly didn't plan for the peace, and it's extraordinary. It's an act of negligence of remarkable proportions." In that same debate, Joe Lieberman said that "the president, obviously, when he took us to war, which I supported, did not have a plan for what to do the day Saddam Hussein fell." Dick Gephardt said that the President's foreign policy was a "miserable failure," stating that Bush "is failing the people in Iraq." He also claimed that Bush "never had the plan and, incredibly, four, five months after the war has ended, he does not have the help that we need." At a press conference in Des Moines, Iowa, Howard Dean stated that "we need to know why your (Bush) administration had no plan to build the peace in post-war Iraq."

Aside from the fact that every major Democratic candidate currently running for president can't seem to answer even the simplest of questions these days without an ad hominem snipe at the president, these nattering ninnies are clearly determined to go to any length necessary to convince their constituents that the Bush Administration took this country to war in Iraq without having any idea as to what might be done after the major fighting was over. You'll forgive me if I take a moment now to quote my favorite Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott: "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

None of these people are foolish enough to believe their own rhetoric in this regard, they are simply hoping that the average liberal will once they have repeated the lie a few hundred times. They realize that there are millions of bright and informed people out there who will never buy their fatuous drivel, but they also know that those aren't the sort of people who would ever vote for them in the first place, so continuing down this road to fantasyland is completely acceptable to them. After all, you CAN fool some of the people all of the time, as is evidenced by the manner in which millions of Americans still think about the 2000 presidential election aftermath.

Of course, this most recent charge of incompetence, leveled against the President by the leftist establishment, is even easier for lazy-minded, ill-informed individuals to accept, because the popular media, with rare exception, has reported very little in the way of affirmative stories from Iraq in the past four months. The nasty nine, as I like to call them, are perfectly aware of this situation. In fact, they're counting on continued silence from the New York Times, CNN and the BBC concerning the incredibly successful reconstruction efforts currently underway in that long neglected and impoverished country. Judging by the way such media organizations have chosen to deal with the post-war narrative to date, I'd say their bet has been well placed.

Still, I shall attempt to enlighten whoever might read this article to the truth behind our recent renewal endeavors, if only for the sake of my own peace of mind. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has stated that roughly fifteen incidents of violent confrontation occur in Iraq every day, the majority of which last only a few minutes and result in no loss of life. Considering that we're talking about a country inhabited by 23 million people, I would hardly call that number worrisome. As a matter of fact, I'd call it downright small.

Many people are not aware of the fact that only days before the U.S. invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein released over 110,000 violent criminals from prisons all over the country. Add to that number tens of thousands of Iraqi army regulars who disappeared into the general population soon after the war began, and the hundreds -- if not thousands -- of terrorists, mercenaries and foreign insurgents flooding into that country every month from every bordering nation, and you've got one formidable force of crazies to deal with. Still, a relatively small number of our troops and Iraqi citizens are dying there, something about which we should all be thanking our lucky stars.

But enough about the downside of our efforts. I'll leave that to the squawking dingalings who run our nation's most prestigious television and print news establishments. The Defense Secretary made some interesting comparisons the other day in a speech before the National Press Club, while referencing information he'd received from the Presidential Envoy to Iraq, Ambassador Paul Bremer. After pointing out that the U.S. intelligence community had indeed underestimated the degree of damage to Iraq's infrastructure caused by decades of neglect by the former regime, Rumsfeld stated that the reconstruction was moving along at an historically unprecedented pace.

He talked about the fact that after only two months, the central bank of Iraq had been established. By way of comparison, it had taken three years to establish an independent central bank in Germany after World War II. He said that in the same two months, the Iraqi police had also been established, something which took fourteen months to achieve in Germany. After 2 1/2 months, Iraqis were using a new currency. It took three years to accomplish that same goal in Germany. The new German cabinet took fourteen months to create; in Iraq it took just four months. Rumsfeld explained that reconstruction efforts in Iraq are outpacing by a startling degree not only the reconstruction of Germany, but that of Japan, Bosnia and Kosovo as well.

Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that he was very impressed with our post-war accomplishments following his trip to Iraq in early September. "Thanks to the hard work of Ambassador L. Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraq is being transformed."

I suppose I could go on and on delineating the tremendous strides our forces have taking in Iraq since the end of major hostilities in May, but I won't bother. Anyone interested in learning more about that situation can find a wellspring of information at the websites of the U.S. State Department, USAID, Development Gateway, and the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Back to the myriad false accusations being leveled against Mr. Bush by the various left-leaning presidential hopefuls parading about the country. John Kerry stated that "this president rushed to war against the advice of many in this country." Of course, he's not the only one to have made such a claim. Representative Richard Gephardt, as well as a host of other prominent Democrats, many of whom are not seeking the highest office in the land, have been advancing this supposition since the day the war began. Senators Byrd and Kennedy have been relentless in their criticism of the president's "rush to war," and I think it's about time that someone set the record straight.

Even if we are to assume the most conservative (not the political kind) view of the matter, no reasonable person can deny that the build-up to war in Iraq began at the very latest on the day that President Bush addressed the the United Nations General Assembly, challenging the U.N. to confront the "grave and gathering danger" in Iraq. That occurred on September 12, 2002. The following month, the U.S. Congress adopted the joint resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. By November 8th the U.N. had unanimously adopted Resolution 1441. In December Iraq provided inspectors with a 12,000 page declaration of it's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. No member of the Security Council considered that declaration to be in any way complete or convincing.

The following month, U.N. inspectors found twelve undisclosed warheads designed to carry chemical agents. Once it became clear that the United States was no longer going to tolerate such a blatant disregard for the U.N.'s 17 resolutions by Saddam Hussein, France, Germany, and Russia released a joint declaration stating they would "not allow" a resolution authorizing military action to pass the UN Security Council. That happened on March 5th, 2003. The U.S., supported faithfully by Great Britain, decided less than two weeks later to withdraw their draft of yet another resolution. Two days later, on March 19, 2003, the war began.

Not only did President Bush seek Congressional approval for his administration's campaign to rid the world of a vicious, terrorist supporting tyrant, but he and his representatives attempted to convince the U.N. to support them as well. Only after exhausting all reasonable options over the course of over six months did he finally decide to build an international coalition outside the United Nations to ensure the safety and integrity of all freedom loving people everywhere.

Yet amazingly, to this day there are high-ranking Democrats in our Congress who would like nothing more than for everyone to believe that we not only rushed to war, but that we also did so "unilaterally!" Pardon me for resorting to vernacular, but what a load of crap. Not only did we not rush to war, but along that extended and painful road to victory we built a coalition of some 48 countries. Here's the list just in case you doubt my veracity:

Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan.

Still the opposition party's leaders insist upon using the word unilateral when they talk about the Iraq campaign. They also insist that Saddam Hussein's regime had nothing to do with the war against terrorists and the nations that sponsor them. How anyone could believe that the Baath party was not involved with international terrorist groups is beyond my ability to comprehend. We've known for years that Hussein's regime was dealing with terrorist groups all over the Middle East, from Hamas and Hezbollah to Al-Qaeda itself. Papers found in the headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service after the initial stages of the war show that an Al-Qaeda envoy was invited to Baghdad in March of 1998 for the purpose of establishing a relationship between that group and Saddam, based on a mutual hatred of America, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Osama Bin Laden himself admitted that he was willing to ally Al-Qaeda with Saddam's regime out of mutual interest in an audio tape released in February of this year. Furthermore, a mid-level terrorist operative associated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of Bin Laden's top associates, was captured in Baghdad in April, 2003, and Zarqawi had traveled to Iraq in May of 2002 seeking medical treatment after Al-Qaeda was driven from Afghanistan. Yet, in spite of these and many other pieces of intelligence information linking Hussein to Al-Qaeda, the Democrats refuse to admit any sort of connection.

Recently, a news item appeared in virtually every major newspaper and on most of the television networks with the headline, "No Link Between Iraq, Sept. 11 Attacks.' Even Fox News, usually characterized as a conservative network, used the headline. The main thrust of the story was that while the president admitted he has yet to find proof that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the attacks of that fateful day in 2001, there was no doubt in his mind that the deposed dictator had been linked to the terrorists who committed those acts.

I have to wonder how many people heard or read that headline without bothering to delve into the story, taking the "No Link to September 11" line at face value. It's obvious to me that the story within the story is the more important one. Just because we haven't found evidence of Saddam's complicity in the atrocities of 9/11 doesn't mean they aren't there to be found. What's truly significant is that the man was definitely linked to the network of people who brought about the worst terrorist attack in world history! Keep in mind that we are not only fighting the terrorists themselves, but the governments of the world that support them. To suggest that the war in Iraq is not a part of the global war on terror is preposterous.

Now let me move on to another accusation being hurled at the President these days by the liberal elitists in Washington, D.C. and around the country. It is the claim that our government has no "exit strategy" for the war in Iraq. General Wesley Clark, who only a few days ago became the tenth major player to enter the presidential race on the Democrat's side, recently said, "that's what we all ought to be asking this administration, because they don't have an exit strategy. Their original exit strategy was to go through the Middle East like a child playing hopscotch and hop from country to country."

Well Mr. Clark, perhaps you'd like to illuminate us all as to the sort of exit strategy YOU had while commanding the NATO forces in Kosovo. If I'm not mistaken, we still have thousands of troops stationed there, as well as in Bosnia. As a matter of fact, we still have Americans stationed in Japan (47,000), Korea (37,500) and Germany (70,000) after more than half a century. We've only been in Iraq for six months! If you really want to know what our exit strategy is, I'll tell you in simplest of terms: our strategy is to leave when the job is done, and not one minute sooner! It's the only rational exit strategy possible under the circumstances. You, as a former general in the U.S. Army, should be able to understand that.

Oh, and let's not forget all the talk about there not being enough U.S. troops in Iraq to handle the task before us. I'll make this short and sweet. General Tommy Franks, General John Abizaid, General Richard Myers and Secretary Don Rumsfeld all agree that the current number of troops in that country is sufficient. I'm willing to take their word for it. If they didn't truly believe the quantity to be sufficient, why then would they have reduced them by 20,000 over the past four months, replacing them with a smaller number of allied forces who have less training?

There's also the common misconception being fostered by the left in this country that the Iraqi citizenry doesn't want us there. The fact is that the vast majority of Iraqis want us to stay in their country. Many Iraqis express a fear that we will depart too soon, leaving them to face the wrath of the remnants of the previous regime. According to the first survey in the history of "free" Iraq, created by order of the Iraqi Center for Surveys, 83% of Iraqis want American troops to remain in Iraq until the indigenous population is able to run the country on it's own.

Finally, I'd like to address the question of the increasing costs of the war to Americans. Again and again I hear people say they think the war is costing too much. While it is true that the bill keeps going up, it is also true that we have little choice but to pay that bill. I believe it's fair to point out at this time that our entire defense budget amounts to about 4% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States. That's less than the total budget of the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the amount spent on Social Security in this country. Furthermore, in 1944, our defense spending amounted to 38% of the U.S. economy's output, or nearly ten times what we are currently spending percentage-wise.

As for the newest charge by Democrats that the President is not explaining what the additional $87 billion appropriated in Congress will be used for, I too wanted to have a better understanding of the situation, so I looked up the facts. Ted Kennedy has stated "I think the American taxpayers are entitled to know where that money is going," and I agree.  However, the information is readily available. It took me less than five minutes to find the following information, and I'm confident that there is a lot more of it out there for anyone who is willing to do a little work.

To begin with, according to the Coalition Provisional Authority 's web-site, $21 billion will be used by that organization toward rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure. That amount is broken down in the following manner:

  • $2 billion to fund public safety initiatives, including border enforcement, police, fire and customs services.
  • $2 billion to establish a new Iraqi army and an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.
  • $1 billion to develop a judicial system, prisons and other institutions necessary to sustain civil society.
  • $6 billion to make constant, dependable supplies of electricity available for all at a fair price.
  • $2 billion to rehabilitate the oil infrastructure and assure steady supplies for Iraqi domestic consumption.
  • $3.7 billion to begin making fresh, drinkable water available for all at a fair price and to construct sewer systems to carry away and clean up waste.
  • $1 billion to repair your water resources systems such as canals and drainage.
  • $800 million to repair transportation facilities such as harbors and airports and to repair and expand your telecommunications so that all Iraqis have access to affordable, functioning telephones.
  • $500 million to upgrade housing and public buildings and to repair Iraq's roads and bridges.
  • $900 million to improve and expand Iraq's public health services by constructing, repairing and equipping hospitals and primary care clinics.
  • $300 million to invest in job training and other initiatives to revitalize the private business sector.
  • $51 billion will be used for military operations in Iraq
  • $15 billion will be used for military operations in Afghanistan

According to the the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), total defense spending for the year 2003 is $364.6 billion. It has been broken down in the following manner:

  • Personnel - 93.4 billion
  • Operations and Maintenance - 129.4 billion
  • Procurement - 71.4 billion
  • Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation - 56.7 billion
  • Military Construction - 6.2 billion
  • Family Housing - 4.2 billion
  • Revolving and Management Funds and Other - 3.1 billion

Total defense spending for the year 2004 is $379.9 billion. It has been broken down in the following manner.

  • Personnel - $98.6 billion
  • Operations and Maintenance - $133.2 billion
  • Procurement - $74.4 billion
  • Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation - $61.8 billion
  • Military Construction - $5 billion
  • Family Housing - $4 billion
  • Revolving and Management Funds and Other - $2.8 billion

All moneys being appropriated for U.S. defense will be used variously for, but will not be limited to, the following:

  • Deployment of robotic, unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) such as Global Hawk unmanned aircraft
  • Employment of advanced laser communications satellites
  • Advanced weapons systems
  • New generation of ships, including a more capable aircraft carrier (CVN-21) and destroyer (DD-X)
  • Airmobile assets, intelligence/surveillance, and digital battlefield communications
  • Deployment of defenses against long-range ballistic missile threats
  • Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP)
  • Recruitment
  • Training
  • Airlift Program
  • Facilities Sustainment, Restoration, Modernization and Maintenance
  • Chemical Demilitarization
  • Space
  • Modernization of military services’ intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare systems
  • Personnel pay, housing and quality of life enhancement
  • Commissaries and exchanges
  • Health care
  • Retirement benefits

I trust that this data will be helpful to Senator Kennedy, his colleagues in the Senate and to every other American who has expressed concern over the lack of information regarding our nation's defense spending. If it isn't enough, I apologize, but do keep this one question in mind. How many people asked Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson or practically any other president to specify exactly how they intended to spend their defense funding allotments? I submit to you that such numbers would prove to be extremely low indeed if the issue was investigated.

Edward L. Daley is the owner of The Daley Times-Post

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