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Pres Bush insists will sustain Iraq amidst weakening US economy

by The3rdColumn Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 11:52:44 AM EST

(Picture lifted from USA Today)

President Bush addressed concerns about the sagging US economy at a press conference a few minutes ago and declared that "recession is not likely" even if "the economy is slowing down."

Asked by a reporter about his policy/objectives for sustaining Iraq, Bush's response was "...to keep enough troops so we could succeed" insisting that "long term security agreement is part of sustainability."

I will not pretend to be an economist because I am not, but one thing I do know -- from a housewife's perspective, is that if a household runs expenses and in so doing, incurs debts of monumental proportions, that household's economy is likely to suffer from a steep downward trend. Again, from a housewife's perspective, the only thing to do in that case is to cut on household spending radically and eliminate unecessary expenses.

Or Bush's "sustainability policy" in Iraq will mean sustained unecessary expenses for American households of monumental proportions. One wonders if President Bush realizes that with the running cost of his war on Iraq (with no end in sight), American taxpayers(housewives included), are bound to pay up for the cost today, tomorrow and in the many years to come.

Economist Joseph Stiglitz has tallied the staggering cost of Bush's `war on terror' in a book The Three Trillion Dollar War, and make no mistake about it, that war will cost US taxpayers for a wee while a lot of money that can be better used elsewhere, in health care, education, infrastructure, etc.

Here are the bullet points extracted from the book by The First Post as to the true cost of Bush's 'war on terror':

Three trillion dollars: the true cost of Iraq

* By March 2008, America will have been in Iraq for five years - longer than it spent in either world war.

* The monthly 'running cost' of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is $16bn - a monthly cost to every American family of $138.

* $5bn, which pays for ten days' fighting, is what America spends in supporting Africa for a whole year. The monthly cost of $16bn is equal to the entire annual budget of the UN.

* The true ratio of wounded to dead, seven to one, is the highest in US history. (Injured troops who are treated on the battlefield are not counted in official records, Stiglitz discovered.)

* The US Department of Veterans Affairs, responsible for caring for the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan, is still clearing a backlog of claims from the Vietnam war.

* By the year 2024, the US will face an annual bill of $4bn for caring for disabled servicemen, with about 40 per cent of troops returning home severely injured.

* A contractor working as a security guard in Iraq earns about $400,000 a year: a typical soldier's annual wages are $40,000.

* Sign-on bonuses, introduced in an effort to recruit more men and women to the war effort, have to be repaid by soldiers who are injured in their first month.

* 1,500 Americans were killed by roadside bombs before Robert Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as US Defence Secretary in 2006 and Humvees were replaced with mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) armoured vehicles.

* Because postwar reconstruction jobs went to US firms instead of local Iraqi companies, one painting job cost $25m instead of $5m.

* One American company alone, Halliburton, of which Vice-President Dick Cheney (right) was CEO from 1995 to 2000, has received a total of $19.3bn in single-source contracts for work in Iraq.

* The price of oil has climbed from $25 a barrel to $100 a barrel over the past five years - and a significant proportion of this rise is directly due to the instabilities caused by the Iraq war.

* Before the war, Gordon Brown, then Chancellor, set aside £1bn to pay for Britain's share of the cost; as of late 2007, UK operating costs in Iraq and Afghanistan had already hit £7bn.

* By 2017, the interest alone on America's cost of borrowing to pay for the war will be $1 trillion.

* Because the saving rate in the US is zero, the war has been financed by borrowing abroad. "So China is financing America's war," says Stiglitz.

Joseph Stiglitz was chief economist at the World Bank and won the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics in 2001

If there's anyone who's making great deal of money straight from the pockets of the US taxpayers is VP Dick Cheney of the Halliburton fame. The company that Mr Cheney headed as CEO from 1995 to 2000, has received $19.3 billion of contracts in Iraq.

Over in the UK, the cost to British taxpayers of Blair's war on terror has not been itemised yet but it's easy to predict that it will run to tens of billions of pounds.

In 2005, Prof Keith Hartley, a defence economist from University of York estimated that the UK would bear $7.5 billion to meet the costs of Britain's military involvement in Iraq. In 2006, it was reported that the Iraq war had cost UK over 4 billion pounds so far and last year reports had it that since the invasion, the spiralling cost of the Iraq war to the British taxpayer was set to exceed £1bn.

The total cost on the UK defence budget since the invasion exceeds £5.3bn but increases in defence spending have pushed up the cost by 10 per cent in the past four months. In November, the Ministry of Defence said it was expecting the cost of the Iraq military operations this financial year to be £860m - a fall of £98m on the previous year. But the latest spring estimates put the total at £1,002m, £142m more than expected four months earlier.

What about the hidden costs?

British Government technocrats, topnotch economists, financial experts may say all they want that the UK economic growth stays steady but they're not fooling this housewife here who believes that the cost of the Iraq war has and will continue to have dire economic effects on the ordinary British taxpaying household.

by The3rdColumn on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 12:38:51 PM EST
"So China is financing America's war," says Stiglitz.
So where is the problem? At the moment interest on US bonds is below US inflation. So the US may in the end with only paying a minor part of the cost of the war, and have the rest exported.

Another interesting interview at democracynow.org. This time with  Jeremy Scahill, who has written a book about blackwater. He sometimes seems to be a little bit overcritical, but in general it makes sense, what he says. Look here for the interview or here for his related article in "The Nation".

The interview starts with:
"Well, I started looking at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's Iraq plans, and one of the things that I discovered is that both of them intend to keep the Green Zone intact. Both of them intend to keep the current US embassy project, which is slated to be the largest embassy in the history of the world. I mean, I think it's 500 CIA operatives alone, a thousand personnel. And they're also going to keep open the Baghdad airport indefinitely. And what that means is that even though the rhetoric of withdrawal is everywhere in the Democratic campaign, we're talking about a pretty substantial level of US forces and personnel remaining in Iraq indefinitely."

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 02:50:18 PM EST
Martin, Let's face it -- NONE of the American presidential candidates will back out of Iraq so soon. I don't for a second believe what Obama pledged in his victory speech in Texas that when he's president, he will end the Iraq war within the first year of his taking over.

When his advisers get to him, his military chiefs talk to him, the neo-cons stand against him, his rhetoric will folow the same path as that of McCain's, probably not for 100 years as McCain vows, but he will eventually say, America cannot, will not and mustn't not pull out of Iraq so soon.

Ending the Iraq war? OK, depends on what Obama means...

If however by "ending the Iraq war," Obama is referring to ending America's/US troops' participation in warring activities in Iraq, that may well be possible -- it will be the fall of South Vietnam re-visited, no more no less, but total US troop withdrawal will not mean that the war in Iraq stops -- it will continue. (When that happens, won't surprise me if America expects the Iraqis to say "Thank you USA!")

by The3rdColumn on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 03:55:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm sometimes a bit naive, you know...

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 04:00:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh! So am I... (wink wink)

Btw, thanks for the links -- very interesting.

Don't know but I reckon, that will be THE BIGGEST, MOST EXPENSIVE embassy the US will ever run -- worthy of the US EMPIRE!

by The3rdColumn on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 04:03:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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