The request for an additional $87 billion for our operation in Iraq proves once again that U.S. policy there is anything but conservative.  The request includes $5.7 billion for a new electric-power system; $3.7 billion to improve water and sanitation; and $856 million to upgrade and repair three airports, rail lines, and phone service.  Other ridiculous expenditures include $100 million for a witness-protection program, $400 million for two prisons at $50,000 a bed, and $360 million for 1,500 police trainers.

The item that is receiving the most criticism is five billion dollars to finance arms and advanced weapons systems for Iraq’s army, police, and new civilian-defense corps.  Earlier billions have been used to build or rebuild thousands of Iraqi schools, provide free healthcare to many Iraqi citizens, make back payments to the Iraqi military and Iraqi retirees, and even ship 60,000 soccer balls over there.

Our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves.

Many lifelong Republicans are beginning to raise serious questions.  Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) told one reporter: “Look at the needs we have here at home with our roads, sewers, and water projects.  It’s hard to tell people there isn’t money for sewers and water and then send that kind of money to Iraq.”

Conservatives have never believed in massive foreign aid.  Yet our occupation of Iraq has become the largest foreign-aid program in the history of the world.

Conservatives have never believed in huge deficit spending.  Yet we are now told that our deficits for just this year and the next will reach an astounding one trillion dollars.

Supporters of the war scoffed at the prediction that we would spend $200 to $300 billion in Iraq over the next ten years.  Now, by the most cautious estimates, the Iraqi operation will cost $167 billion in just the first two years.  Because we are in such a deep fiscal hole already, we will have to borrow all the billions we are spending there.

Conservatives have never believed in world government—government far removed from the people—and have been strong critics of the United Nations.  Yet, some prominent war supporters, while criticizing the United Nations in one breath, have said in the next that we had to go to war to enforce all the U.N. resolutions Saddam Hussein had violated.

Most conservatives surely do not believe it is fair to place almost the entire burden of enforcing U.N. resolutions on American taxpayers and the U.S. military.  And most conservatives, while believing strongly in national defense, have never believed that the United States should be the policeman of the world.  Sen. Robert Taft once wrote: “No foreign policy can be justified except a policy devoted . . . to the protection of the liberty of the American people, with war only as the last resort and only to preserve that liberty.”

Almost all conservatives applauded when President George W. Bush, while still a candidate, said we needed a more humble foreign policy and that he was opposed to nation-building.  After all, more than 80 percent of House Republicans had opposed the Clinton administration’s bombing and military operations in the former Yugoslavia.

Most conservatives believe that we would not have nearly as many foreign enemies if we followed a noninterventionist foreign policy and did not get involved in so many religious, ethnic, and political disputes around the world.  Last December, in the National Journal, columnist William Schneider wrote: “Throughout the Middle East, anti-Americanism has grown along with U.S. influence. . . . The lesson: Great power breeds great resentment.”

Now, we are following a neoconservative foreign policy that is anything but conservative.  This interventionist policy is breeding resentment, creating more enemies, putting our children and grandchildren into a financial black hole, and worst of all, killing many young members of our military.

Fortune, in its November 25, 2002, issue—long before the war started—printed an article by Bill Powell entitled “Iraq: We Win.  Then What?”  Mr. Powell said that a “military victory could turn into a strategic defeat” and that an American occupation would be “prolonged and expensive” and “could turn U.S. troops into sitting ducks for Islamic terrorists.”  These predictions have turned out to be deadly accurate.

Saddam Hussein is an evil man, but he had a military budget only about two-tenths of one percent of ours and was never any real threat to us.  Everyone knew we would win the war quickly and easily.  Winning the peace, many of us warned, would be much more difficult.

Now, we are hearing such noble-sounding clichés as “We have to get the job done” and “We must stay the course” and the American people “must be willing to sacrifice.”  Why?  It is clear that the Iraqi people do not want us running their country.  They only want our money.

One Iraqi opponent of Hussein who was forced to live outside the country for 30 years wrote to the Financial Times in late August: “Replacing a U.S. occupation with a U.N. occupation will only create a different target for the bombers. . . . The root of the violence is that Iraq is occupied by a foreign power.  There is no real vision of how that occupation might be transformed into a representative government.  Iraqis should be providing their own security.”

The official line of war supporters today seems to be to criticize the media for reporting all the killing but failing to emphasize “all the good” that is going on in Iraq.  Well, for all the billions we are spending there, I certainly hope there are some good things going on.  What they talk about, however, are the schools and the electricity and water and police and other things the Iraqis should be paying for with their massive oil wealth.

A Gallup Poll has found that over half of Iraqis are happy we are there.  Of course, they would be happy that any nation is foolish enough to spend hundreds of billions on their country.

Syndicated columnist Georgie Ann Geyer wrote recently: “Critics of the war against Iraq have said since the beginning of the conflict that Americans, still strangely complacent about overseas wars being waged by a minority in their name, will inevitably come to a point where they will see they have to have a government that provides services at home or one that seeks empire across the globe.”

A small minority of very powerful neo-cons seems to have dreamed of war with Iraq for many years.  The neocons got their wish; what they thought would be their crowning achievement, however, may lead to their downfall.  So many people in the United States and around the world believe that they were misled about the need to go to war in Iraq and that they almost certainly will be much harder to convince the next time around.

No matter who is president, almost all the leaders of the Department of Defense, the State Department, the National Security Council, and our intelligence agencies are going to advocate more and more involvement in foreign affairs, even those that should be none of our business and even when there is no threat to our vital interests.  Their power and glory, and, most importantly, their funding are determined in large part by our involvement in the affairs of other nations.  They are not seen as men and women of action and world statesmen unless they urge that we do more and more in other countries.

I wish more of our leaders would heed the advice of President Kennedy, who said in 1962: “We must face [the] fact that the United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient—that we are only six percent [now four percent] of the world’s population—that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 [now 96] percent of mankind—that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity—and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem.”

There is nothing conservative about the U.S. policy in Iraq.