Iowa Congressman Jim Leach says as Congress gets back to work this fall, the central issue will remain Iraq. With this week’s presidential plea for 87-Billion dollars more to fund our continuing military presence in Bagdad, Leach says there’s a whole lot of spending going on. He says it’s an “expensive endeavor,” and the supplemental appropriation being requested is 87-Billion, but that’s far from the cost of the war which he says is ten to fifteen times that much. Leach says the Defense Department clearly under-estimated the reaction in Iraq to US military intervention, and also failed to foresee that Saddam might be left at large, so the situation there lacks “resolution.” Leach says the administration’s estimating there may be five-thousand dissidents in Iraq who resent American occupation there but he thinks that figures is way off. With this incursion, he says the U.S. is alienating a half-billion people in the world who are Muslim, and perhaps a billion people. Leach says while we should “leave Iraq a better place than we found it,” we should invite other countries to help in the rebuilding.He says the Americanization of conflict brings the US all the liabilities, both the political and economic costs, he says, so the U.S. has an interest in internationalizing the peace to share the burden of expenses and of public accountability. Leach says the administration’s made tax cuts but kept on spending as usual, and that’ll make it difficult to pass an appropriations bill without cuts to the federal budget. The challenge is going to be to get the economy moving and decide whether you can have a “sacrifice-less” domestic policy, and he says Congress will have trouble doing that, as the administration hasn’t exercised much discipline. Iowa congressman Jim Leach is chair of the US House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and met with leaders in China, Taiwan and Japan during the summer recess.
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