Blasts from Left and Right

Pat Buchanan writes a well-earned “we told you so” regarding our invasion of Iraq, including allegations of something worse than mistake: “We were misled. We were deceived. We were lied to.” This comes uncomfortably close (for me) to the left Mantra “Bush lied, thousands died,” though Buchanan leaves room for ambiguity by using the passive voice (Misled, deceived and lied to by whom?)

“The cost: 4,400 dead, 35,000 wounded, $700 billion sunk.”

Don’t forget that the 35,000 wounded includes — thanks to whiz-bang battlefield medical wizardry — many thousands who would be among the dead in prior wars. They return, but not always “alive and kickin'”. This war has produced a lot of permanently and totally disabled veterans to whom we owe not merely a debt of gratitude (for laying their lives on the line for us even if the war was profoundly foolish), but a debt measurable in dollars. Those dollars probably are not in Buchanan’s $700 billion.

And consider this: the VA has a benefit, called “non-service connected disability,” that will someday be available to everyone who has served in the military since the first Gulf War in 1991 (and who makes it to age 65 and meets more minor criteria) because one of the eligibility criteria is service at least one day in war time, and we’ve been at war for VA purposes since 1991. That benefit currently can go higher than $1,900 per month.

Can you say “unfunded liability”?

If you think that the Bush (or Obama) administration would not brazenly lie, do you think they would hunt down and kill U.S. Citizens abroad without any trial whatever?

In other words, consider the little-heralded policy of “targeted killings,” which continues under Obama, whereby we go after a list of “bad guys” (including U.S. Citizens) wherever they are in the world, even thousands of miles from open hostilities, and “off them” without any semblance of due process:

The danger of dispensing with due process is obvious. Without it, we cannot be assured that the people the government kills are individuals who presented a threat to the country. Indeed, over the past decade, our government has repeatedly labeled men terrorists only to find out later — or to be told by a federal judge — that the evidence was overstated, wrong or nonexistent. If we invest the government with unchecked authority to impose death sentences on people who have never been convicted of or even charged with a crime, it is inevitable that innocent people will be executed.

Sentencing terrorism suspects to death — without trial, Washington Post 9/3/10. The existence of the policy apparently is not in dispute — only its legality. I suspect that the federal courts, who have been asked to outlaw the practice by the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights, will perform the Korematsu procedure on this to avoid a constitutional crisis of willful executives defying toothless judicial decrees.

But that’s okay, I guess, because the targets all no doubt have VX gas, botulism, mustard gas, sarin and anthrax, and are acquiring nuclear weapons, just like Sadam.