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Should we leave equipment in Iraq?

Our Readers Who Comment are having a spirited conversation about whether it makes more sense for the U.S. military to donate to Iraq passenger vehicles and other usable equipment, which is happening now, or pay to move the stuff to Afghanistan, where it is needed.

Readers come down firmly on both sides while also decrying the waste and cost of war in general. Many clearly understand that moving big stuff costs money, but so does buying and delivering new stuff. Others see this donation program as another classic example of military waste or bureaucratic nonsense or both.

As Ernesto LondoƱo writes, "Officials involved say the approach has triggered arguments in the Pentagon over whether the effort to leave Iraqis adequately equipped is hurting the buildup in Afghanistan." Meanwhile, the deficit grows and domestic social needs go unmet, as several readers note.

We'll start with Vacation4243, who offered, "Ah! The military version of the "Cash for Clunkers" program."

davideconnollyjr wrote, "...All of us that pay taxes, and our children, and their children are going to be paying for these wars for years to come. A dead broke nation being loaned the money by China to exact a decade of revenge on innocent civilians around the globe for something Osama Bin Laden did to us. Ironically, we are no closer to Bin Laden than we were before these atrocities, and expenses started piling up."

But lcyoon said, "Leaving the Iraqi people the means to secure their safety is both important and the least we can do after causing them so much strife. As to Afghanistan and our needing machinery, guess what, we also need jobs! Making such machinery means jobs. And when we leave there, we can give them equipment to try to maintain a peaceful existence as is only morally correct. Then our jobs can continue to build us more stuff. Talk about a worthy idea for stimulus."

red_dog wrote, "The largest entitlement program that we have is not social security nor medicare. It's our defense budget and our endless wars... Guaranteed health care and pensions, safe / modern infrastructure, safe water and food, good public education, and so on are all sacrificed by our runaway military spending."

mehrenst1 asked, "If they didn't leave all that material in Iraq then how could the Pentagon justify spending billions of dollars to equip our troops in Afghanistan?"

forestbloggod wrote, "war is waste. expenditure, then waste. it is a case of beuurocratic bulimia. the pentagon likes new toys out of fresh wrappers, and santa never says no."

blakesouthwood said, "America is known for being a country that can mass produce anything immediately. I see no problem."

To which frantaylor replied, "I bet you think this applies to money, too.
This is the EXACTLY why our economy is headed down the toilet: idiots who think that manufactured goods magically appear on the Wal-Mart shelves at the wave of a wand."

screwjob2 said, "Half of this stuff is so beat up after five years of wartime use, that it would cost more to airlift the gear to Afghanistan than the gear is worth."

But Chagasman wrote, "Stupid, stupid, stupid. We need that equipment. We paid for it. Why are we giving it to a country that is floating on oil? The Pentagon treats the US taxpayers like rubes. Tell them to pull out every last bit of equipment. It belongs to the US taxpayer. Obama, stop this now!"

nelsmith1 said, "This is outrageous and just down right wasteful. We knew that as there is a problem in paying so much to get all this into Iraq it would also cost so much to get it out... Another brilliant example about just how wrong the W boys were in even doing this. Now it is on to the next mistake. Makes me ill"

jisantiago asked, "How big is the black marketeering within the US Army? The risk of these "discarded" arms and equipment falling into wrong hands is very real. The US Army really has a lot to answer."

BlueTwo1 said, "This reminds me of the time when America finally decamped from Vietnam. Expensive military helicopters landed on aircraft carriers. Then, to make room for more helicopters, the craft were pushed overboard. DoD built a heckuva an air conditioned Pentagon-substitute to shelter officers and staff during the Vietnam conflict. I would guess that is being put to good use as an involuntary donation to our former enemy."

rthomasjr wrote, "As someone serving in Iraq, tour number 2, I've seen what we spend on a regular basis and what we "dispose" of... We'll give them perfectly good stuff but they can't or won't maintain it, much of it being significantly more complicated than the Soviet-era gear they're used to. Either way, leave it or haul it, it's going to cost the American taxpayers millions to get out of Iraq. That's just the price of doing business..."

We'll close with branfo4, who said, "Meanwhile back at the ranch, school budgets are cut, hospitals close and bridges fall."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  December 7, 2009; 7:15 AM ET
 | Tags: Afghanistan, Iraq, Military  
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