Friday, March 15, 2013

A Wee Bit More Than a Fistful of Dollars

Trey Smith

In the late winter of 2002-03, the war drums were being beaten by the Bush administration as they successfully convinced most of the American public to support an attack on Iraq. Among their selling points were a) the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms (they didn't); b) the war would be over and done with in a matter of months (it wasn't) and c) that it wouldn't cost very much, certainly not more than $100 billion (wrong again).

In 2003, I lived in Salem, OR and served as the Executive Director of an organization called Citizens for Livable Communities (CLC). I testified before the Salem City Council in support of a resolution to oppose the war. One of the points I made was that only a fool would believe that the projected price tag would be so small. Naively, I quoted several pundits who contended the price tag could be as high as $180 - $200 billion dollars.

Yesterday, a study was released by the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. They estimate that the predictions I quoted -- ones that I was assailed for in print and face-to-face -- were WOEFULLY inadequate. According to the study,
The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest.
Think of all the positive and life-affirming things we could have done with $1.7 trillion dollars. It boggles the mind.

And what did we get for this large outlay of taxpayer dollars? Hundreds of thousands of dead and injured Iraqis, most of them guilty of nothing more than living in their home country. A huge national deficit that is the chief cause of an austerity budget here at home. An Iraq today that is on the verge of civil war. But several major corporations -- buddies of the Bush administration -- made out like bandits.

So, I guess it was worth it after all, right?

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