We have around 400,000 civilian soldiers in the National Guard, with about 10 percent deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. George W. Bushs proposal for helping the Border Patrol guard the Mexican border calls for 6,000 Guard troops, or 1.5 percent of the total.
Regardless of ones position on the suitability of having our National Guard doing guard duty on our southern border, Bush exposes his real priorities on homeland security in this proposal. Given these numbers, (40,000 in the quagmire he created, versus 6,000 for protecting our own borders), can anyone dispute the fact that Bush thinks Iraq and Afghanistan are seven times more important than Americas own security?
You will recall from part four of my case for impeachment that Bush opposed no less than 11 homeland security bills between late 2001 and 2004. When you add up these 11 instances, you get almost $60 billion.
Now, Bush wants Congress to approve a miserly $2 billion for OUR borders. Thats only 3.3 percent of what he has previously rejected. In other words, based on Guard troop deployment, protecting our countrys borders is only worth 15 percent of our commitment to Iraq, while Iraq is 30 times more important than homeland security in terms of new dollars proposed versus his earlier refusals. One can only wonder what Bush is going to do when the next terror attack hits our shores, which even his own experts say is a matter of when and not if. Other than blame his critics for the attack, which could produce more human suffering and have a more devastating impact on our economy than 9/11, where do you suppose hes going to find the resources to pull off a recovery? There is only one sensible way to answer to this question, and there are two compelling justifications that support it.
The answer is, we have to pull out of Iraq now rather than later. The two reasons supporting this exit strategy are simple: First, our presence in Iraq is stoking the insurgency fires, and this is exactly what bin Laden and al-Zarqawi wanted. Second, we need to redirect our resources to the home front, instead of throwing good money after bad in Iraq. If we withdraw our troops to the Iraq perimeter, we will reduce the financial drain Bush has created, and increase the likelihood that the Iraqi Army and police will support their newly-installed government.
Of course, theres also the possibility that sectarian violence will get worse before it gets better. How much worse is almost academic, however, since it already borders on full-scale civil war. Lest you think Im some kind of Michael Moore fan wanting to demean our troops valiant efforts to accomplish Bushs mission impossible, heres what Lt. Gen. William E. Odom (Ret.) said in his recent article titled, Cut and Run? You Bet (Foreign Policy, May/June 2006).
The prewar dream of a liberal Iraqi democracy friendly to the United States is no longer credible. No Iraqi leader with enough power and legitimacy to control the country will be pro-American. Still Bush says the United States must stay the course. Why?
Odom then proceeded to discredit every lame excuse the administration has presented for continuing their lost causeincluding the false notions that our withdrawal would encourage the terrorists, demoralize our troops, and undermine U.S. credibility in the world.
In his recent speech to West Point cadets, Bush was in denial again when he said, The war began on my watch, but its going to end on your watch. Hows that for no timetable? He couldnt even admit to his role in it by stating that I started this war, but now you will have to finish it.
America needs to restore legitimacy to the claim of Mission Accomplished by dispatching George W. Bush to his rightful place in historyright along side of Aaron Burr, John Wilkes Booth, and Richard Milhous Nixon.
W. Harrison Goodenow is a Rockford resident.
From the July 19-25, 2006, issue