by Jonathan Singer, Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 10:13:49 PM EST
On Monday morning, I spoke with Ford Bell, one of of two leading contenders for the Democratic senatorial nomination in the Minnesota (the other being Amy Klobuchar, with whom we spoke a couple of weeks ago -- read the interview here or listen to it here [a 15.1 megabyte .mp3 file]).
On the day before party caucuses, Ford, who is still very much in the race despite my mistake on a post last week, and I spoke about a number of topics, including Iraq, healthcare, and Social Security. You can listen to the interview here (warning: a 15.7 megabyte mp3) or read the rush transcript below.
Jonathan Singer: What's the most important issue this year?
Ford Bell: Well, if I had to pick the most important issue, it would be the war.
Singer: And why would you pick the war?
Bell: This was a war we were misled into. We were misled. We never should have gotten into this. This had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. This has nothing to do with our security. We have legitimate security interests to protect our country from terrorism, and it wasn't Iraq that attacked us. This was one man's war. This was Bush's determination to go after Saddam Hussein.
First we were misled. Then this war was unbelievably badly planned. There was no civil plan ready to go the moment they achieved the fall of the government. If there had been a full civil plan, if the State Department had been allowed to develop that, we wouldn't have had the looting, which was the beginning of the cycle of violence, including, of course, the looting of the munitions dumps, which armed the insurgents with weapons that are still being used against us.
Now almost 2,300 brave young Americans have lost their lives and thousands more have been maimed for life in ways that we've never seem before. I mean we've had to create a new terminology in this war, politrauma. Here in Minneapolis, our V.A. hospital is one of six politrauma centers across the country. As a veteran said to me on the phone the other day, "You know, you can lose a leg or an arm and live a very happy life, but if you're brain is scrambled, your prospects are very limited." And too many of these young men and women have horrible neurologic injuries, in addition to the orthopedic and soft tissue injuries.
And nobody is counting how many Iraqis have died. Best estimates are it's over 100,000. And we've spent $300 billion, and what do we have? The Iraqis don't have continuous access to fresh water. They don't have continuous access to electrical power. Their medical infrastructure is not functioning. They don't have the security to go to their jobs. Unemployment is way over 30 percent. We were going to finance this war, as you remember, out of oil revenues, and the oil industry in Iraq isn't operating anywhere near its prewar levels. And on top of that, we haven't been able to achieve a government that's going to be stable going forward.