Monday, December 22, 2014

Obama's Wars

The Prez goes on TV tonight to announce troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

Obama's Wars

The Nobel Peace Prize winner now spending America's tax dollars on three foreign wars goes on TV tonight to announce a troop draw-down in Afghanistan nearly 10 years after that war started.

Reuters News Service and others report Obama is likely to call for 5,000 troops to withdraw in July, with another 5,000 by the end of the year.

Great.

But back in December 2009 when he announced the Afghanistanization of U.S. involvement and sent 30,000 more troops in, I noted two things: when he ran for president he said we'd be out of Iraq by Spring of 2010 (we're still there, scheduled to be out this December); when he accepted his party's nomination in 2008 he said, "I will end this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan." We're far from finished.

So whatever he says tonight must be measured by what he's said before.

While our cities and states face fiscal crisis, while our citizens face joblessness and home foreclosures, while our infrastructue crumbles and our economy teeters, we pay $126 billion a-year for wars.

Now we also pay for "not hostilties" in Libya which, by September, will cost us another $1.1 billion, according to last week's White House report. For what?

This week, new terror attacks in Iraq raise questions about keeping U.S. forces there beyond December. Why?

This week, U.S. mayors backed a resolution at their annual confernece in Baltimore calling for the enormous resources spent on these wars to be re-routed to the nation's domestic problems. It was the first time since the Vietnam War that American mayors, in unison, took such a formal stance.

I would love to hear some reasoned explanation for why we spend so much money in other countries (which, after we leave war-torn, you JUST KNOW we'll later spend to rebuild). I would love to hear a rationale for ongoing efforts in Libya. I would love to hear something that suggests we are as committed to our own citizens and our democracy as we are to citizens and "emerging democracies" in other lands.

But mostly? I'd love to hear something I could actually believe. Grrrr.

 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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