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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Iraq in Dollars and Cents

Surely one measure of the judgment of politicians who have supported and continue to support the Iraq War and those who didn’t and/or don’t is the overall cost, generally estimated at $2 trillion. That’s calamitous enough, as Joe Conason explains, given the original cost estimates:

How mistaken were the war’s optimistic promoters in 2003? The official line on the expected cost of rebuilding Iraq after ousting Saddam was just under $2 billion, according to testimony provided by Bush administration officials. That estimate did not include the likelihood, according to Paul Wolfowitz, the then-deputy secretary of defense, of whether Iraq’s oil reserves would cover the entire cost of invasion, occupation and reconstruction. Five years later, the estimated cost of the war to American taxpayers is well over $2 trillion, including the care we must provide for wounded Americans over the next few decades. Much of the Iraqi oil, of which production remains sporadic, is being stolen and smuggled away.
The difference between an estimate of $2 billion and a cost of $2 trillion could be considered a significant miscalculation, even in a Republican government.

But that’s not all:

Yet those figures don’t quite reckon with the real costs, which should include the rise in the price of oil from around $36 a barrel in March 2003 to well over $100 a barrel this month. Some economists go further, blaming the subprime mortgage collapse — and the ensuing deluge of bad paper that may capsize the world economy — on the effects of the war.

No matter how broad or narrow your estimates, the costs of this war have to cast a pretty heavy shadow on John McCain’s reputation for fiscal probity, and should make his obsession with appropriations earmarks–mostly peanuts as compared to a week or so of this war, which he supported from the beginning and wants to continue indefinitely–pretty laughable.

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