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Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Goulish Christmas for Corporate America - Iraq

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments sez:

2003 - $48 billion
2004 - $59 billion
2005 - $81 billion
2006 - $93 billion

On an accrual basis, the yearly costs are double and triple these. That is, the war materiel and human beings sacrificed have costs for replacement that we will not see this year or next. Remember when somebody got fired for saying the adventure might cost upwards of $200 billion? We are now spending $10 billion per month in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stiglitz and Bilmes have estimated the eventual cost to be over $1 trillion, after indirect costs -- such as increased fuel prices -- are thrown in. That's $50,000 for every Iraqi man, woman and child.

And for this, they get 3 hours of electricity per day, unsanitary water, and a civil war. Not a very good deal for anybody. Well, it is good for the vendors of these faulty goods -- Corporate America. While ordinary Iraqis and ordinary Americans are paying in blood, bone and misery, Exxon, Boeing, Halliburton, Bechtel, and so on are raking it in.

Not by accident. The Bush administration, and Republicans in general, are champions and clients of corporate boards. (The Department of Defense web site calls it the biggest, baddest "company" in America.) The war, its supporters, its apologists, and its beneficiaries are primarily corporatists.

They were hired to secure and rebuild a devastated a country. In that they have failed. Not fallen short. Failed. They have taken the money and provided nothing but excuses. Some, including the Seattle Times, have called for a halt to the rebuilding because it, or security for it, is too expensive. More appropriate is a START to rebuilding, by people who can do the job, not the US corporate oligarchy. Start with an independent contracting office through the UN. Security costs disappear when the natives are doing it for themselves.

Some time ago I estimated the cost of corruption in the Bush Iraq adventure would be over $10 billion. Out of a rebuilding budget of $20 billion, this seemed to be pretty aggressive. But it's not only the rebuilding, it's the profiteering of suppliers and opportunism of the oil giants.

ERROR, ERROR. ($50,000, not $500,000) This post included too many zeros. At more than one trillion dollars net cost to the US for the Iraq War, as suggested by Stiglitz and Bilmes, each of the 26,074,906 Iraqi men, women and children would account for only $50,000, not the $500,000 I allowed to get online. Forgive, please. Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch. Yes, I will apologize personally to your friends if you dropped that number on them as a result of my foolishness.

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