In the second presidential debate after McCain told him that he “does not understand our national security challenges”, Obama responded,
I don’t understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, while Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us.
That was Senator McCain’s judgment and it was the wrong judgment.
When Senator McCain was cheerleading the president to go into Iraq, he suggested it was going to be quick and easy, we’d be greeted as liberators.
That was the wrong judgment, and it’s been costly to us. So one of the difficulties with Iraq is that it has put an enormous strain, first of all, on our troops, obviously, and they have performed heroically and honorably and we owe them an extraordinary debt of gratitude.
But it’s also put an enormous strain on our budget. We’ve spent, so far, close to $700 billion and if we continue on the path that we’re on, as Senator McCain is suggesting, it’s going to go well over $1 trillion.
We’re spending $10 billion a month in Iraq at a time when the Iraqis have a $79 billion surplus, $79 billion.
And we need that $10 billion a month here in the United States to put people back to work, to do all these wonderful things that Senator McCain suggested we should be doing, but has not yet explained how he would pay for.
Now, Senator McCain and I do agree, this is the greatest nation on earth. We are a force of good in the world. But there has never been a nation in the history of the world that saw its economy decline and maintained its military superiority.
Nevertheless, Obama forgot to mention the most obvious reasons why Iraq was both strategically and morally wrong. For one, Exxon Mobil just announced, once again, record profits. How is it that since the war in Iraq our energy costs have gone through the roof, but Exxon Mobil is making a killing? We even want to further reward them by letting them “drill, baby, drill.” The war continues to benefit the oil companies and we pay the economic and human toll.
But worst of all, the press has all but ignored the grotesque civilian tragedy of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. At the top of the list of “Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009” was the over one million Iraqi deaths caused by the U.S. occupation.
Over one million Iraqis have met violent deaths as a result of the 2003 invasion, according to a study conducted by the prestigious British polling group, Opinion Research Business (ORB). These numbers suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq rivals the mass killings of the last century—the human toll exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia’s infamous “Killing Fields” during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s.
Who cares about the debate over whether the surge worked. Even with diminishing American military casualties, the numbers of civilian deaths increased, oil prices rose, and oil companies got rich. And you wonder why we’re not winning over any hearts and minds in the Middle East?