George W. Bush, Iraq & The Economy

Abridged version published in the Pinnacle, October 14, 2004

Dear Editor:

Paul McNett's letter in the September 30 Pinnacle sounded more like political posturing than reasoned discussion.

For example, consider his claim that "Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster." I don't know what dictionary Mr. McNett is using, but mine defines "unmitigated" as "complete and utter" or "absolute and unqualified". Fortunately, that's not the case.

First and foremost, Saddam Hussein, one of the late 20th Century's most brutal dictators, is no longer in power and is awaiting trial. That's major mitigation — and our primary objective in the war.

Second, the U.S. is helping to set up a democracy in the Middle East. Combined with getting rid of Saddam, I hope this will eventually help stabilize the region (no more forays into Iran or Kuwait, for one thing). That's more mitigation.

As for President Bush's "incompetence", the blame of any perceived failures should be assigned better. President Bush is a civilian and not a military man (his critics even doubt he has any military experience). While he is the Commander In Chief, I think military people deserve a good part of any blame for military operations. I doubt any person is competent in every field that a U.S. President has to govern, which is why they have many levels of advisors.

Regarding Mr. McNett's assertion of a "go-it-alone strategy" in Iraq, he claims that the U.S. is bearing 90% of the costs of the war. Does anybody see anything wrong with those two claims? Where is the other 10% coming from? Apparently we aren't really going it alone.

The truth is that there is a multi-national force in Iraq. Sure, I'd like more support worldwide, but not everybody cares about the same issues we may. The important thing to consider is whether we're making the world safer or not. I think we are.

Mr. McNett also seems confused about the "deficit". While budget deficits seem to be the rule in America (I believe every President in the 20th century had a deficit in one or more budgets), the Congressional Budget Office indicates a deficit of $574 billion for 2004, not $2.8 trillion. That's a big difference.

Perhaps Mr. McNett was referring to the national debt, though (which is different from the deficit). If that's the case, he apparently forgot September 11th and the recession (which started under the Clinton administration). The economy tanked and the war in Afghanistan wasn't cheap (but perhaps Mr. McNett thinks we shouldn't have gone there, either).

Even without those factors, I'm not sure how much President Bush is to blame. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the United States has had a national debt every year since 1790 until the time those figures were published. There was a brief time in the 1830s when it was "virtually zero" (which I think means it existed but was fairly small), and I believe we did eliminate the debt in the last part of President Clinton's administration — one of the greatest economic booms in our history.

However, assuming Mr. McNett's figure of $2.8 trillion is accurate for the national debt (and the previous inaccuracies don't give me much faith in that), we had national debts of $2.8 trillion or more from 1989 through 1999 (Source: U.S. Treasury Department), so it hardly seems that President Bush is unique in having a large national debt.

To sum up, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to vote for or against President Bush. Exaggerating things in the pursuit of a political agenda seems unnecessary.

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