Thursday, January 12, 2006

Iraq aggression may cost $2 trillion

On Tuesday evening, the fantastic Public Radio International news program The World did an interview with Joseph Stiglitz. The Nobel Prize-winning economist estimated that the total costs of the Iraq aggression could run as high as almost two TRILLION dollars... that's $2,000,000,000,000. A figure so mind boggling let's put it like this: it's over $5500 for every single American. And he came to this conclusion by using the same standard economic estimates used both by the insurance industry and by the federal government itself.

For comparison, in Fiscal Year 2004, the entire federal government's spending on everything was about $2.3 trillion.

(By contrast, some conservatives have launched a war against the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which receives a piddling 0.02% of that sum each year.)

Of course, a few years ago, War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted that the Pentagon had simply lost track of $2.3 trillion over the course of several years so maybe that's why they're so impervious to the Iraq costs. But in a society that counts militarism as one if its primary values, it's no surprise that military is the only branch of government that can spend however much it wants with no public outrage and no accountability whatsoever.

And it was interesting that I heard this story on The World on Tuesday night but I could find no article on it at the websites of those venerable 'Bush-hating' and 'liberal media' outlets ABC, CBS and NBC News and CNN. Go figure.

Fortunately, the always reliable Christian Science Monitor included the story in its press review.

In the interview, Stiglitz addressed the false dichotomy that his critics will surely invoke. It wasn't simply a question of invading Iraq or doing nothing. The question is: was the aggression against Iraq the best way to make America safer? Were there other ways to spend the money to truly make America safer, in ways that didn't result in fanning the flames of anti-American resentment not only in the Middle East but in much of the world? Could the money have been spent to improve America's international reputation instead of to ruin it? Has the aggression advanced American values or undermined them? In other words, was this the most efficient use of one or two trillion dollars?

The answers are obvious.

Update: And despite the astronomical amounts that will be spent on Iraq, there are still troops without body armor. Despite the unaccounted for trillions, the Pentagon even reimburse National Guardsmen for their expenses on missions to serve and protect. Support our troops!


Renegade Eye said...

Starving the welfare state, is a long time goal of conservatism. Instead of tax cuts, think service cuts.

Conservatives only support the state for the military and building roads.

If you understand that, the news you delivered, is no shock.

I think actual idealism influenced US going into Iraq; Hitchens, Wolfowitz, Perlman etc. I think Rumsfeld and Cheney led it to something else, by discarding after war planning


roman said...

"the total costs of the Iraq aggression could run as high as almost two TRILLION dollars... that's $2,000,000,000,000."
What price freedom?

Brian said...

Roman, Iraq has nothing to do with our freedom so the question is moot.