Monday, September 24, 2007

Iraq War Costs - supplement

In my 9/12/07 posting titled "Iraq War Costs" I stated my view that our government needs to negotiate a much fairer sharing of the costs among the other nations that have a similar strategic interest with us in achieving a stable, peaceful, relatively prosperous, and hopefully also democratic Iraq. The other nations include other countries in the Middle East, the European Union, Japan, Russia, China, and India. As I indicated before, it's late in the game, but not too late, especially if we end up having 60,000 or more troops there for several more years and costly infrastructure rebuilding programs are needed for a longer period.

Our highest priorities in the region should still be achieving a stable and peaceful Iraq which can operate independently and defend itself, bringing our troops home as soon and as safely as possible, moving forward in the global war on terror, dealing effectively with Iran in coordination with our allies, and securing a satisfactory and lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palistinians that is preferably also endorsed by Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf states, and Turkey. Of course, another priority is making more progress in Afghanistan, so we can safely reduce our military and political commitments there.

However, we should also put a strong effort into the cost sharing objective. It's not a minor matter, considering the tens of billions of dollars involved, our sizable federal budget deficit, our critical funding needs to shore up Medicare and Social Security, and the need to find a satisfactory solution to the growing number of Americans, currently closing in on 50 million, who do not have health insurance coverage. Additionally, we must also seriously consider the need to fund our own growing infrastructure upgrading requirements, which include those for our water supplies, water treatment, sewage collection and treatment, highways, bridges, airports, and schools. Many of these were built decades ago to meet the needs of a much smaller population. To underline this point, in 1960 we had 189 million, in 1970 213 million, in 2000 291 million, and now we're up to about 302 million! That's nearly a 60% increase since 1960! And I bet quite a significant share of our important infrastructure was built well before 1960.

The U. S. is no doubt the most prosperous country in the world. However, we obviously do not have unlimited resources, far from it. Our politicians need to do a better job of balancing funding between international and domestic needs. And we voters need to do our part to get their attention and to improve our monitoring of their performance. Agree?

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