The cost of war in plain English
By JC Garrett
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Mar 25, 2008, 00:59
The war in Iraq has now cost Americans countless dollars and
over 4,000 American lives. I say over 4,000 because the death toll put out by
the Bush administration does not include all the American contractors that have
died in the war.
There are studies that estimate the long-term costs as
being anywhere from one to six trillion dollars, and the general consensus now
-- even among the most optimistic Bush Believers -- is that the least we will
end up spending in Iraq will be more than one trillion dollars.
That's if we start pulling troops out tomorrow. Already, not counting
such expenses as continued health care for wounded veterans, replacing worn-out
equipment, or the increase in oil prices from $30 per barrel in 2003 to $111
per barrel in 2008, the actual appropriations for the Iraq war are currently
more than $513 billion.
Leaving all future costs aside, and not counting those that
have already accrued but have been hidden away in secret intelligence budgets
and executive side-deals, let's talk about the $500 billion that is on the
books, the undeniable dollars that can't be covered up or disputed by even the
most thirsty of Bushie Kool-Aid drinkers.
Most normal folks like you and me really don't comprehend
just how much money $500 billion is. When we hear experts tell us that the
money we have spent in Iraq would be enough to ensure healthcare for millions
of Americans, we get mad and shake our heads at the stupidity of preemptive war
with a country that never posed a serious, credible threat to America. But we
still don't fully understand the massiveness of such a huge amount of cash. I
will attempt to put it in terms that don't require an advanced degree in economics
to get a clear grasp on just how much dough we have wasted on this ill-advised
foray into nation-building by force of arms.
Iraq has a population of about 27 million people. If
all 27 million Iraqis were to each rob an American bank of $19,000--
that would add up to $513 billion.
Of course, most Iraqis have no desire to rob any bank
-- especially one that they would have to cross an ocean to hold up. What
Mr. Bush has told us to fear is "al-Qaeda in Iraq," a dubious term in
that there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq until we invaded, and the group is actually
a home-grown club of extremists who just decided to call themselves
"al-Qaeda in Iraq". It was the biggest gift they could have given to
the Bush Administration.
Nevertheless, when cornered, administration officials and
military officers have reluctantly admitted that the number of terrorists
belonging to "al-Qaeda in Iraq" or any of its affiliate groups has
never been more than five or six thousand people. The rest of the people
killing each other are simply Iraqis of different religious persuasions waging
jihad amongst themselves in a bloody civil war over long-held prejudices. And
then there are those Iraqis who have decided to kill Americans for the very
compelling reason that one or more of their family members were killed by
Americans. Most in this category simply want the American occupiers to
leave their country, and have no intention of "following us home."
So just to make it fair, we will pretend that there
are 10,000 "al-Qaeda" terrorists in Iraq, an exaggeration by any
estimate. All 10,000 terrorists could have each robbed an American bank of
$28,100 -- every single day of all five years of the war-- and that would
add up to $513 billion. That's 1,825 consecutive days with 10,000 terrorists
stealing a combined total of $281 million every single day.
that's just what they would have had to steal to match our spending if not one
more dollar was spent on this crazy war.
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