Monday, September 15, 2003

The $87 billion that Bush demanded catches the eye. It sounds like some kind of joke figure that kidder Bush might have asked for on April Fool's Day. Just think of the ringing guffaws from the Republicans if the Democrats had requested a tenth of it for some social program. But consider:

  1. The $87 billion and what Bush has already requested for Iraq and Afghanistan actually add up to $166 billion.

  2. Bush made it clear that the $87 billion was only the first installment, and the U. S. was going to stay until the job of fighting terror in Iraq was done (or, I guess, until the United States completely runs out of money, whichever comes first).

  3. Only $21 billion of the $87 billion actually covers reconstruction costs for Iraq (the Iraqi electrical and water systems by themselves are estimated to require $29 billion). It appears that, despite many pious promises by the Bush Administration, Afghanistan isn't going to be reconstructed.

  4. Regardless of what the Bush Administration says, no other country is going to contribute any sizeable amount of money to the pot. The idea that Iraq's oil would pay for the reconstruction appears more and more to have been an hallucination Dick Cheney had during one of his heart attacks.

  5. The great majority of the money is going to pay for what is essentially Pentagon operating costs (wages, fuel, etc.). These costs have been extremely inflated by the Pentagon's new propensity to contract out practically anything it can get away with. The money is not covering any appreciable amount of the capital costs to the Pentagon's equipment, which is literally being sanded down in the deserts of Iraq. When the operation in Iraq is over, the American taxpayer will have to completely repurchase most of the main military equipment for the U. S. Army, at a cost of untold additional billions.

While $87 billion sounds like a lot to the unsophisticated hillbilly, the neocons will tell you that it is really just chump change compared to the total cost of their little experiment in Iraq. The chumps will have to pony up a lot more change before the chimp is done.