Boehner: Troop Deaths ‘Small Price’ for Iraq Success
House Republican leader John Boehner told Wolf Blitzer that the death of thousands of American soldiers is “a small price” to pay in Iraq:
BLITZER: How much longer will U.S. taxpayers have to shell out $2 billion a week or $3 billion a week as some now are suggesting the cost is going to endure? The loss in blood, the Americans who are killed every month, how much longer do you think this commitment, this military commitment is going to require?
BOEHNER: I think General Petraeus outlined it pretty clearly. We’re making success. We need to firm up those successes. We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we’re making today will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda here, if we’re able to stabilize the Middle East, it’s not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids.
Greg Sargent, who has both the transcript and a video, is apoplectic about Boehner’s callousness, especially coming from one who isn’t “sacrificing anything for the Iraq war.” He also resents Boehner’s use of the word “we” in that context.
Boehner’s phrasing was inartful. Politicians are expected to issue disclaimers about how, of course, even the loss of a single American life is a tragedy and how the nation owes an internal debt of gratitude to all the men and women of our armed services for their sacrifices.
Still, that sentiment should simply go without saying. That 3,773 Americans have died and another 27,848 have been wounded is a high price, especially when it appears we will fall far short of achieving our war aims, is obvious. No serious person, regardless of party affiliation or view on the wisdom of this war, disputes that.
The price of war, however, must be measured against the stakes. The United States, with a population well under half the current total, lost 291,557 dead and 670,846 wounded in World War II. In exchange, we defeated the forces of Fascism (and launched half a century of Cold War). Few argue it wasn’t worth the sacrifice.
Would 4,000 deaths be a relatively small price to pay to stop al Qaeda and stabilize the Middle East? My goodness, yes. We’d make that back preventing one 9-11 scale attack.
The real question is whether we’ll come anywhere close to achieving those goals. If we leave Iraq and the Middle East in chaos, strengthening the hand of the Iranian mullahs and the Islamists, then any price was too high.
UPDATE: Senator John Kerry takes the opposing view at HuffPo.