The mess left in Iraq
EDITOR: Few topics get my blood boiling like the mess that has plagued Iraq over the past 15 years (“Few opening wallets to rebuild Iraq post-IS,” Saturday). Few people can argue with a straight face about the urgency, legitimacy or wisdom of attacking Iraq in 2003. Besides the false claims of an imminent threat to our country, or hints about retaliation for 9/11, the shock-and-awe costs of our military were to be paid for by Iraq’s vast oil riches.
But what has become lost in the wake of such an avoidable and atrocious miscarriage of American political and military arrogance is the fact of a broken nation left reeling (two really, including us). How can America act as if it didn’t break Iraq, as if we’re not responsible for rebuilding it? It was criminal to have attacked Iraq in the first place, but to not accept responsibility for the death, destruction and damage that followed is simply unconscionable.
The last sentence of the article says it all, describing the $60 billion the U.S. has pumped into Iraq’s reconstruction over the past nine years. Are we supposed to be impressed? Just three months ago, the U.S. Senate passed an annual $700 billion military spending bill — which gave $37 billion more than President Donald Trump even asked for. For shame.
Keeping public lands
EDITOR: Your Dec. 22 editorial (“These monumental changes not wanted”) said, correctly, that the government isn’t selling monument lands despite some conservationist claims.
However, the monument dustup does expose a mindset that the feds have too much land and oversight in the West. Cliven Bundy is an extreme example of that thinking (“Prosecutors bungle another Bundy case,” Editorial, Saturday).
Consider this from the Republican Party platform, “We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands, identified in the review process, to all willing states for the benefit of the states and the nation as a whole.”
A year ago, the House changed its rules to prohibit consideration of budget impact (i.e., loss of royalties and fees) in debates on land transfers. On the heels of that, then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz R-Utah, introduced a bill to “dispose” or sell off 3 million acres of federal land (he later withdrew it in the face of massive opposition). The Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1980s never went away.
Once in state hands, lands could be sold to raise revenue. Witness Texas, allowed at statehood to retain its public domain. Within 50 years, about 90 percent of it was in private hands.
EDITOR: Along with friends, I went to the New Year’s Eve celebration at Old Courthouse Square. The photo props with Happy New Year frames for taking your own free photos was a nice touch. Yet with the stated goal of “bringing people together,” was it the best idea to have the big ivory tower, er, the clear plastic heated tent, there on the square for the $125-a-plate diners?
EDITOR: Instead of trying to find a way to build permanent buildings for a transient homeless population, why not “build” a permanent affordable campground residence arrangement? It could include pavilion-type roofs with solar collectors to provide each campsite with some power, a residents-only entrance with security and bathroom facilities.