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Iraq Cost Benefit Analysis

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The War in Iraq has cost about $453,000,000,000 (four hundred and fifty-three billion dollars) to date.

That’s pretty hard to grasp. Especially on my income and probably on yours. Let’s bring that home and make it a little more understandable.

I live in Ulster County, New York. Our share of that is $372,000,000 (three hundred and seventy-two million dollars).

If you live in Los Angeles, your bill is $4,823,000,000 (four billion, eight hundred twenty-three million). Savannah, Georgia, $144,000,000. Little Rock, Arkansas, $339,000,000. That’s how much you’re putting in  so far. It keeps ticking away at two billion dollars a week. If you live somewhere else and want to know how much it’s costing your city or county, go to costofwar.com.

You might also want to do what they suggest. Imagine what could have been done with that much money. The schools, bridges, medical care, playgrounds.

What did we get for our money?

The original deal – as presented to us – was to disarm Saddam Hussein for $50 billion. If we didn’t do it right away, the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud.

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Bizarre, but true, that was actually accomplished. And for far less. It wasn’t difficult, since Saddam was already disarmed. But by massing our troops and demanding UN resolutions, Saddam was forced to let the inspectors in so that we got to see it for ourselves.

But the administration was set on war! We’re not actually sure why. Perhaps they aren’t either. So they told us that the inspectors were associated with the UN. They were Swiss or French or some other foreigners, and therefore, unlike Americans, they were easily conned. Their failure to find WMDs didn’t mean there weren’t any. It really meant that Saddam was super tricky as well as super evil.

So the goal slipped from disarming Saddam to removing Saddam.

Removing Saddam was going to be a magic moment. It was going to be like a Disney animated feature. When the ogre was slain, the entire kingdom would break out with flowers and the flowers would dance and sing.  And welcome the Americans as liberators!

That’s not all we were going to get for our investment. We were going to get much, much more!

We would strike a blow in the war on terror! Keep (non-existent) weapons of mass destructions out of the hands of a dictator who might give them to terrorists. Establish a democracy in the Middle East. Bring stability to the region and hope to other people under evil dictators. Make Israel safer.

Most of all it would be a demonstration!

We would smite our foe like the Lord God Almighty, throwing thunderbolts and parting the very seas, so that all who saw would quake in fear and tremble before us. That’s the colorful, theological version, but it is, in fact, what the administration expected.

We were a beneficent power, too. We were going to rebuild Iraq. George Bush said it was going to be “The greatest financial commitment of it’s kind since the Marshall Plan!”

Was that going to cost us more?

 No. "We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon,” said the ever astute Paul Wolfowitz, deeply knowledgeable about third world countries, war and finance. ‘What a deal,’ as they used to say, throwing in a second pair of pants and a genuine silk tie, when you bought your Bar Mitzvah suit down on Orchard Street.

But it wasn’t a Disney movie. The commander-in-chief and his crew were wrong in their assumptions and incompetent in execution.

If they stop, they will have to admit that we got nothing for our money. If they go forward,  it’s not their money. Or their bodies. While it’s not be in our interests, its in their interests to turn the war into the Energizer Bunny, endlessly, mindlessly, going and going and going.

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http://www.larrybeinhart.com

LARRY BEINHART is the author of SALVATION BOULEVARD, soon to be released as a major motion picture with Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Marissa Tomei, Ed Harris, and Jim Gaffigan, WAG THE DOG, The Librarian, Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin and HOW TO (more...)
 

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