January 2008 Letter to Rep Murphy of PA 18th District on Cost of Iraq Invasion and Occupation

Dear Representative Murphy,

The data at the end of this letter is quite alarming. I am sharing it with you in the hopes that it may awaken in you the recognition that the foreign and fiscal policies of the Bush administration in the prosecution of the so-called War on Terror’s front in Iraq has been, if nothing else, a tremendous misappropriation of public money.

In the case of the 18th District of Pennsylvania, the calculation of our share of this $489 billion and rising military action is $1 billion through 2007. It’s time to change our policies and change the way tax dollars are being spent. In truth, it’s long past time we stopped throwing lives away, as well as good money after bad, and put an end to the mounting and incomprehensible damage to our stature as the world’s leading nation and the debt we are creating for future generations.

Representative Murphy, I also want to take this opportunity to express my deep dissatisfaction with your continued support of military action in Iraq. The way in which you and the dwindling numbers of supporters frame it is, in my opinion, falsely patriotic, disingenuous, and speaks only to the blind faith created by fear *and* party politics – something you say should not be considered when making decisions about how to fund this operation.

You said in your floor speech to Congress on February 15, 2007 (http://murphy.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Iraq%20debate.pdf) that you, “…want the American men and women serving in Iraq to come home.” You go on to talk about how you are “…deeply concerned about the direction of this war”, how you want, “the United States to actively engage in diplomatic efforts with all Arab nations” and that you, “want Republicans and Democrats to sit down together and discuss how to make these things come to fruition.”

Who could argue with any of that? On the face of it, I don’t. I am assuming your position hasn’t changed in the last 11 months since the speech is still available on your web site.

The way that I read the rest of your speech, however, is as an attempt to make supporting the *invasion* of Iraq sound like a requirement for patriotism and a determinant of whether or not citizens actually support the troops. Perhaps even more disturbing is your statement that you want the troops (and presumably your constituents) to know that, “policy comes before politics, and that no poll, no political plan, no political threats, should ever, ever, undermine our allegiance to doing what is right for our soldiers and our nation. I want them, to know that their work, their risks, their fighting, has meaning and purpose and must be immune to the politics of Washington.”

Are you saying that what your constituents, or even what your political adversaries, want doesn’t have meaning or purpose? Are you saying that only you and those who share your ideas know,”…what is right for our soldiers and our nation”? Are you saying that those who disagree with you about putting more and more troops into harm’s way, leaving them there until this undefined and ill-conceived mission is somehow defined as “accomplished”, and running up the unfunded debt, perhaps into the trillions of dollars, are unsupportive of the troops?

Perhaps you simply haven’t asked the right people, or you’ve simply chosen not to listen to voices of dissention. That seems to be a common practice lately within your party and the current administration. (For the record, I am and always have been registered as Non-Partisan.)

Let me take a moment to share some polling data with you. This first set comes from an August, 2007, Zogby International poll found at http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1343. If I may, I’d suggest you pay particular attention to the data on congressional approval ratings.

“Just 24% give the president favorable ratings of his performance in handling the war in Iraq, but confidence in Congress is significantly worse – only 3% give Congress positive marks for how it has handled the war.”

“Slightly more than half (54%) believe the U.S. should set a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and 55% believe the U.S. should begin the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of this year.”

And what do those brave men and women serving or who have served this great country have to say?
“Dissatisfaction with how the war in Iraq is being handled is also considerable among past or current members of the military and their families – nearly three in four (71%) give the president negative ratings on his handling of the war and [more] than half (54%) said they don’t trust the President’s judgment when it comes to the Iraq war. Nearly half (47%) say they lack confidence in Bush’s ability as Commander in Chief – 41% said they have no confidence in him at all. The vast majority (96%) also have a negative view of how Congress has handled the war, but there is disagreement about what Congress should do to support the troops. While half said Congress should fully fund the war in Iraq to maintain current troop levels, 29% would favor attaching requirements for phased withdrawal to Iraq war funding and 16% believe Congress should cut all funding for the war in Iraq and bring the troops home.”
Military.com conducted a poll of its readers in July, 2007 (http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,142665,00.html). Here’s what they said:

“Nearly 60 percent of readers who participated in a recent Military.com poll said the United States should withdraw its troops from Iraq now or by the end of 2008. More than 40 percent of the respondents agreed the pullout should begin immediately because “we’re wasting lives and resources there.”

Gallup’s January 2008 survey of relatives of service members (http://www.gallup.com/poll/103678/Relatives-Military-Service-Members-Divided-Iraq-War.aspx) would seem to confirm that there are knowledgeable and affected voices of dissension to which you need to be listening:
“Of the 7% of Americans who report having a close family member who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan since 9/11, 51% say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq, while 47% say it was not a mistake. That compares with 58% of those without a close relative serving in Iraq or Afghanistan who say entering Iraq was a mistake.”
The point of this poll data, Representative Murphy, is to reinforce the one plain fact that your words and deeds lead me to believe that you have forgotten. You and every other elected official work for us. You are our voice, not the other way around. You were elected to do one thing – represent us, not ignore us while you pursue and support agendas and policies that are grounded in nothing more than the very same party politics that you claim, “… undermine[s] our allegiance to doing what is right for our soldiers and our nation.” You, sir, are engaging in the most reprehensible form of petty party politics by using the brave men and women in uniform as mere political pawns to score points with a misguided and stubborn minority of citizens still supporting you, this administration, and a failed Iraq policy.

I have on final point to take up with you – framing the debate. I think that you and everyone else who support the *invasion* really should stop calling this a war. Random House Webster’s Dictionary, Third Edition, defines war as “armed conflict between nations or factions.” Exactly with what nation or faction are we at war? If you say al Qaeda, then you must know that the intelligence is in on this, and there were no ties between Iraq, al Qaeda, and the *crimes* of 911 sufficient to justify invading Iraq at a cost of almost 4000 dead soldiers, more than 60,000 wounded soldiers, and estimates that put the number of Iraqis killed as a result of this invasion at 700,000.

The 9/11 Commission Report states, “Bin Ladin was also willing to explore possibilities for cooperation with Iraq even though Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, had never had an Islamist agenda – save for his opportunistic pose as a defender of the faithful against ‘Crusaders’ during the Gulf War of 1991. Moreover, Bin Ladin had in fact been sponsoring anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan, and sought to attract them into his Islamic army.” (2001, p.61).

You must also know that the 9/11 Commission Report goes on to say that, “Bin Ladin himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995. Bin Ladin is said to have asked for space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but there is no evidence that Iraq responded to this request.” (2001, p.61).

You must also know that the 9/11 Commission Report states in no uncertain terms that in 1999, “…Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Laden declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides’ hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.” (2001, p.66).

Representative Murphy, 9/11 was as tragic an event as any in our history, but it was not an attack by a nation against which a military invasion could be justified or expected to resolve anything, including bringing those in al Qaeda to justice. This is particularly true when it comes to Iraq. I had no disagreement then and still don’t with the decision to invade Afghanistan. The Taliban government was clearly aiding and abetting a criminal organization that had perpetrated a crime of tremendous proportion in our country. What seems to have never been taken into account by this administration and those who support its decisions is that 9/11 was a reprehensible and barbaric crime – and only a crime, if such a word as “only” can be used in this context. It was committed by a small group of extremist criminals, the leader of which remains at large 6 ½ years later.

9/11 should have been treated as a crime from the beginning; otherwise, how do you explain the lack of an invasion of Junction City, KS? Junction City was, after all, guilty of harboring Timothy McVeigh, this nation’s worst domestic terrorist.

Sincerely,
Greg Russak

From http://nationalpriorities.org

Taxpayers in Congressional District 18 (Murphy) will pay $1 billion for the cost of the Iraq War through 2007. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
232,687 People with Health Care OR
1,204,156 Homes with Renewable Electricity OR
23,090 Public Safety Officers OR
17,097 Music and Arts Teachers OR
87,005 Scholarships for University Students OR
70 New Elementary Schools OR
10,176 Affordable Housing Units OR
295,717 Children with Health Care OR
142,038 Head Start Places for Children OR
16,560 Elementary School Teachers OR
15,395 Port Container Inspectors
Copyright 2007 National Priorities Project
info@nationalpriorities.org [1]

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