Paul Krugman: Sacrifice Is for Suckers

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BY PAUL KRUGMAN | Dateline: July 06, 2007

Paul Krugman looks at who has sacrificed for the Iraq war:

On this Fourth of July, President Bush … called for “more patience, more courage and more sacrifice.” Unfortunately, … nobody asked the obvious question: “What sacrifices have you and your friends made, Mr. President?”…

You see, the Iraq war, although Mr. Bush insists that it’s part of a Global War on Terror™, a fight to the death between good and evil, isn’t like America’s other great wars — wars in which the wealthy shared the financial burden through higher taxes and many members of the elite fought for their country.

This time around, Mr. Bush celebrated Mission Accomplished by cutting tax rates on dividends and capital gains, while handing out huge no-bid contracts to politically connected corporations. And in the four years since, as the insurgency Mr. Bush initially taunted with the cry of “Bring them on” has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans and left thousands more grievously wounded, the children of the elite — especially the Republican elite — have been conspicuously absent from the battlefield.

The Bushies, it seems, like starting fights, but they don’t believe in paying any of the cost … Above all, they don’t believe that they or their friends should face any … penalties for trivial sins like distorting intelligence to get America into an unnecessary war, or totally botching that war’s execution…

Think Progress has a summary of what happened to the men behind the war… To read that summary is to be awed by the … generosity of the neocon welfare system. Even Paul Wolfowitz, who … mess[ed] up … two high-level jobs, has found refuge at the American Enterprise Institute.

Which brings us to … I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. … In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal titled “Fallen Soldier,” Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University cited the soldier’s creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” He went on to declare that “Scooter Libby was a soldier in your — our — war in Iraq.”

Ah, yes. Shuffling papers in an air-conditioned Washington office is exactly like putting your life on the line in Anbar or Baghdad. Spending 30 months in a minimum-security prison, with a comfortable think-tank job waiting at the other end, is exactly like having half your face or both your legs blown off by an I.E.D.

What lay behind the hysteria, of course, was the prospect that … one of the people who tricked America into war, then endangered national security yet again in the effort to cover their tracks, might pay some price…

Back when the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity began, Mr. Bush insisted that if anyone in his administration had violated the law, “that person will be taken care of.” Now we know what he meant. …

Mr. Bush says that Mr. Libby’s punishment remains “harsh” because his reputation is “forever damaged.” Meanwhile, Mr. Bush employs, as a deputy national security adviser, none other than Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty to unlawfully withholding information from Congress in the Iran-contra affair. Mr. Abrams was one of six Iran-contra defendants pardoned by Mr. Bush’s father, who was himself a subject of the special prosecutor’s investigation of the scandal.

In other words, obstruction of justice when it gets too close to home is a family tradition. And being a loyal Bushie means never having to say you’re sorry.

Paul Krugman is an op-ed columnist with The New York Times.

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