I first saw this report on the "hidden costs" of the Iraq war about a week ago (it was put out by Congressional Democrats). I thought to myself that I'd wait and see how it played out.
A few days later, quite predictably, the Republicans demanded that the report be retracted (send it over to Winston Smith at the Ministry of Truth (this is a reference to George Orwell's 1984)), and that none of the numbers could be substantiated or connected to the Iraq war.
The report focuses on a few things, most notably that the "hidden costs" of the war come through things like higher prices for oil (from mid $30 range at the start of the war, to lapping the shores of Lake $100 now), the cost of caring for disabled veterans (I have written about this subject some in this blog), and massive interest on the debt paid - essentially, the Bush Administration has turned our country into a sub-prime lender to such wonderful "bankers" as China.
The Republicans certainly cannot say that these things are lies (unlike the "intelligence" that got us into the war). I think what got them most upset is that this is a great example of synthesis. Putting it all together into one article and laying it out there. No longer do the American people have to grasp at strands from the news and try to form them into a coherent whole to see the mess we are really in. THEN, attaching a $20 to possibly $40K price tag on EACH AMERICAN FAMILY.
This should really open our eyes, and make us angry as hell. But, the fact that Marie Osmond's son is in rehab seems to be more important to us. I haven't really seen anything more on this story.
Meanwhile, the President tells us that we can't "afford" health care for our poorest and most vulnerable children.
A lot of these things about the war have been hidden quite nicely from the American people. We are NOT a country at war as a lot of pundits (especially conservative pundits) like to say. The people patrolling Iraq and their families are certainly involved in an ugly, brutal, destructive war, but at home we are as detached as a country can be from the war. This was made easier also by hiring mercenaries (modern day Hessians) to fill in for those who might have had to become soldiers and go to the war zone.
All of these things are going to fundamentally change the way we live. We will look back and ask ourselves repeatedly in future years, "was it worth it"? If you fundamentally change the soul and psyche of your nation, and not in a good way, was it worth it?
What is our return on investment for the invasion of Iraq? Security? Even General Petraeus could not say that our country was safer when pressed specifically by Senator Warner.
I think the hidden cost that is going to be most painful and costly is treating the Veterans who are coming back, profoundly broken in body, spirit and soul. There is right now no end in sight to this carnage assembly line either - at least not for the next few years - and to hear the Democrats talk, not even then.
We cannot let them fade into obscurity, or homelessness, or alcohol and drug addiction, or madness.
It will in fact be very costly IF we do the honorable thing and do it right. We cannot do it on the cheap like we tried to prosecute this war.
They (the Democrats) can congratulate themselves for this report, but the fact of the matter is, they are every bit as much to blame for our foreign policy debacle and our budgetary woes.
If we don't do the best that we can, and treat the Veterans and their families right, we can forever hang our heads in shame.