Former GOP aide hits Panetta on Iraq comment

In a column posted Tuesday on the Counterpunch blog, Mike Lofgren, a former senior aide on the House and Senate Budget committees, takes umbrage with comments Panetta made Friday in Ankara, Turkey.

Lofgren highlights only one quote from Panetta’s comments about the end of the Iraq war.

Here is how the Pentagon’s own Armed Forces Press Service reported the comment that rubbed the former GOP aide the wrong way:

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“ ‘As difficult as [the Iraq war] was,’ and the cost in both American and Iraqi lives, ‘I think the price has been worth it, to establish a stable government in a very important region of the world.’ ”

“One’s only reaction to this statement is to blink in disbelief and wonder: is Panetta that stupid, or does he think that we, the supposedly self-governing citizens of this country, are that stupid?” Lofgren wrote.

“The kindest thing one can conclude is that this is some sort of throw-away line intended to provide solace to the families of those killed, or consolation to survivors who were maimed,” the former aide said. “But that is pretty thin gruel; one imagines those people, and their kin, have formed their own opinions about what happened and do not require a patronizing justification.”

If the Iraq conflict — which, according to White House and Pentagon data, cost as much as $1 trillion, left nearly 4,500 U.S. troops dead and another 30,000 troops wounded — was “worth it,” Lofgren asks a probing question: “Why shouldn’t we keep doing it, not only in Iraq but all over the world? Perpetual war for stable government, one might call it.”

Lofgren also sees a “propaganda” motive behind the secretary’s comment.

“Some government hacks really do believe if they repeat something over and over, no matter threadbare or false, a large number of people will believe it,” Lofgren wrote. “Republicans have used this technique for years, and it appears Democrats are well on their way to equaling them in mastering it.”