Other priorities?

This will do wonders for the morale of US forces in Iraq. Not only are they overstretched in their duties, sweltering in 120-degree heat and being shot at daily, but now the Pentagon wants to cut their pay.

The Defense Department supports the cuts, saying its budget can’t sustain the higher payments amid a host of other priorities.

Well excuse me, Mr. Rumsfeld, but what other priorities? If this Iraq thing doesn’t work out, the other priorities aren’t going to mean a whole lot. If we’re to succeed in rebuilding and reshaping Iraq, we’ll need soldiers who don’t feel they’re being ripped off and played for suckers by their own country in return for their sacrifices. Even if Congress overrides the Pentagon on this, as I hope it does, the damage to morale is already done.

I was starting to think the Bush administration had realized it can’t do what needs to be done in Iraq on the cheap. Now I don’t know what to believe.

Don’t they understand how important this is?

(Via Talking Points Memo.)

Update: Jackie D provides a link to a later report in which the Pentagon denies any pay-cut plans.

Further update: Edward Epstein of The San Francisco Chronicle, who broke the original story, writes that the White House “backpedaled” on the pay cut after the reaction to Thursday’s report.