Two recent pieces in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch helped me make some connections about why Republicans can’t stand to talk about how the unnecessary Iraq war bankrupted our country. They like to blame President Obama for spending too much money despite the fact that spending has decreased and the deficit is shrinking. In a letter to the editor, Robert Specker of Wildwood asked, “Why is our government spending funds it has to borrow in the first place if the expenditures are not necessary?”
Say what? “Unnecessary” is the adjective that will be used to describe the Iraq War by future historians, and they won’t pass up a chance to mention that we cut taxes while ramping up military spending.
An excellent article by Grady Smith about the “moral wounds” of combat shines some light on why Republicans are going to such great lengths to avoid taking responsibility for driving the nation into debt. Smith quotes a 30-year-old article by Peter Marin to explain how terribly difficult it is for humans to come to terms with the damage they do to others when “the dead remain dead, the maimed are forever maimed, and there is no way to deny one’s responsibility or culpability.”
Over 4,000 Americans were killed in Iraq and tens of thousands have physical and emotional scars that our society will have to take care of for decades to come. Estimates are that over 100,000 Iraqis, including women and children, died in the war of choice by the George W. Bush administration. As more details emerge about how the intelligence was massaged to give the desired result about Iraq’s threat to its neighbors and to us, those who supported the war must be facing some pretty difficult self-analysis.
Psychologists use the term “projection” to describe how humans blame others for something they can’t face about themselves. I think we’re on to something here. I hope Republicans who supported President Bush’s ill-conceived war accept partial responsibility for the physical, emotional and fiscal damage done to everyone involved. Maybe then they can start making amends rather than looking for others to blame.