By DOUG THOMPSON
OncePresident Barack Obama made the decision to blow well over $100 million in taxpayer dollars for a weekend attack onLibya, we saw yet another example of committing an over-extended military to yet another conflict while millions ofAmericans remain out of work in a stagnant economy.
The cost of sticking our nose into internal strife in Libya showcases how often our priorities are mixed up. That $100 million will balloon into billions before our role in Libya ends — assuming it does — and that’s money we will never get back and that will show no return.
Iraq‘s massive oil reserves were supposed to pay for rebuilding that country. Instead, most of the billions in cost came from American taxpayers. So far, we’ve dropped about $350 billion into the never-endingwar in Afghanistan. It costs America $6 billion a month in Afghanistan and $5 billion a month in Iraq.
The cost so far for both wars: A not-so-cool trillion bucks of American taxpayer funds.
And for what? Does either country have the freedom and Democracy promised when we launchedmilitary action? Democracy was the stated goal when we invaded Iraq, a nation that posed no threat to the United States. Various sects still rule that nation with an iron hand.
We went into Afghanistan with the stated goal of tracking downOsama bin Laden and killing him. He remains at large in what has now become the longest, most-expensive war in U.S. history.
At least 4,441 Americans have died in Iraq since the invasion began in March 2003. We claim that “combat” operations ended last year but 50,000 American soldiers remain in that embattled nation and every one has a target on his or her back.
Another 1,384 American soldiers have fallen in Afghanistan. When combined with Iraq, nearly 6,000 Americans have died in those two wars and tens of thousands more came home with crippling physical injuries and/or severe mental problems.
Did these people die defending America? Not really. Did they die in a noble cause? No. They died for flawed political agendas: First forGeorge W. Bush‘s lies and now for Barack Obama’s inexperience and inability to focus on the real needs of the country.
Meanwhile, schools in Illinois have laid off 2,100 tenured and non-tenured teachers this year, the rabid right-wing focuses on union-busting campaigns inWisconsin, Ohio,Indiana and other states rather than on putting people back to work and more Americans struggle to get by as their unemployment runs out and record numbers of food stamps are issued.
The American middle class has all but vanished. The American Dream no longer exists for too many families. What we have in its place is the American Nightmare and one from which the nation may never wake up.
Where are the priorities of our government? Which is more important? The need to impose our will on the other side of the world or the needs of the jobless, the hungry and the needy here at home?
With the American deficit headed into double-digit trillions and this nation tears itself apart with extremist politics from both the right and the left, we continue to overextend ourselves with expensive wars we can’t afford and screwed up priorities.
The cost is too high, the returns too small and the damage too great.