The Bill For Rebuilding Iraq

Aquarian Weekly 2/26/03 REALITY CHECK

THE BILL FOR REBUILDING IRAQ The Small Details of The Bush War

WARNING: The following numbers are not official, for no government would dare divulge dumping billions of tax dollars to restructure areas of the world it pummeled into granite powder.

Our series on the pending military action in Iraq continues this week with a breakdown of the inevitable rebuilding of the country we’ll be bombing into near oblivion in a few weeks. A team of tireless accountants – excluding my accountant, who was excused to allow for the constant 24 hour watch which effectively keeps me from financial self-destruction, and my father, who after nearly 40 years of this shit has taken on the monumental feat of willing NC State into the NCAA tournament – joined our War Room to estimate the taxpayer investment in razing and then reconstructing a nation halfway across the globe.

Make no mistake; this fiasco will not be lengthy nor will it be anything approaching competitive. The Iraqi army is weaker than it was 12 years ago, and that wasn’t exactly a fighting machine. Even with troops spread out all over Europe and Asia and other points Middle East, the US Army will obliterate the Iraqi infrastructure within a month, tops. And when those left are finished surrendering to CNN camera crews, the bill will come due.

This latest and greatest standoff with Iraq will also not be cheap, but it’s too late to back down financially or politically. The cost of ramping up this sucker has already rivaled the first six bombings of Baghdad alone.

Okay, now raise your hands if you know the extent of US tax dollars funneled into the rebuilding of Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo or Afghanistan in the past decade. If your hands are still down, use them to hang on to your wallet.

We’ll start with Somalia, because in terms of rebuilding, it was a drop in the bucket at $1 billion of US military and humanitarian funds spent between in 1993 and ’94. But later in ’96, the World Bank estimated the total cost of cleaning up the Clinton Administration’s other charitable fascination with Bosnia at $5.1 billion over four years. However, the US costs alone reached that number after the first three years culminating in a grand total of $30 billion for the complete economic reconstruction of the Balkans. This included our funds to rebuild Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia and Romania at $2.2 billion.

The numbers on piecing together what was left of Kosovo are a little hazier, but the more concrete breakdown of war costs make up for that. According to a June, 1999 Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments analyst report in Rueters, the US coughed up $3 billion to take down Slobodan Milosevic amid the fumes of what was once Yugoslavia. This incorporated $1 million cruise missiles, 300 grand worth of tank-busting munitions and the occasional laser-guided bombs running $100,000 apiece. While the rest of Europe picked up the tip, our 1,000 aircraft, including 24 Apache attack helicopters, 18 multiple launch rocket system artillery pieces and some 5,500 supporting Army troops rounded out the grace-saving gig. And when you get to the cost of hanging around and making sure the deal sticks, the US spend up to $3.5 billion the first year to deploy peacekeepers.

Now for what continues to be an ad hoc covert operation in Afghanistan, going on its second year of spying, torture and all around merriment, according to a BBC report one year ago, the cost of rebuilding a country that was worth about 40 cents of infrastructure when we began gutting it is $297 million a year.

Note that our research does not go back to the tons of cashed dumped into Desert Storm 12 years ago, because of cost-of-living curves and vacillating inflation numbers, but suffice to say that wasn’t cheap.

This latest and greatest standoff with Iraq will also not be cheap, but it’s too late to back down financially or politically. The cost of ramping up this sucker has already rivaled the first six bombings of Baghdad alone. And unlike the Gulf War, this will be a full-scale invasion to unseat the current government, which means a complete dedication to rebuilding the damages, defending the next regime and keeping overall peace in a region our current government feels will start to be cleansed by this maneuver.

Our dollar share in this starts at $15 billion a year, while also risking the lives of thousands of US troops defending a reported coalition government that includes Sunnis, Shias and Kurds.

Whether this war protects our oil interests, bolsters Israel’s defense or puts the scare into terrorists remains to be seen. What is known is the tremendous financial burden it will put on the American taxpayer, the majority of which want little to nothing to do with it. To a nation struggling through an economic quagmire, this will either be crippling or productive. Again, a hard gig to predict, but one that is all but inevitable save Saddam Hussein’s head appearing on a platter at the UN anytime soon.

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