Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Doubling Down On A Bad Bet In Iraq

From Radio Free Europe:

The top U.S. general in Iraq says he believes Iraqi forces can take over security in the country with little support from the international coalition in a year to 18 months.

General George Casey said such a scenario would not mean, however, the United States would withdraw any troops.

Instead, Casey said it is part of U.S. plans for coalition forces to redeploy to larger bases as Iraqis become responsible for their security in specific regions.
And there's a reason it wouldn't mean that the US would withdraw troops. "We will stand down as they stand up" has always been a political lie of the vilest kind for there are no plans currently in place to give the Iraqi military the support and supply infrastructure - nor the heavy weapons like tanks, bombers and artillery - that the US currently provides and without which the newly stood-up Iraqi army would simply fall flat on its face again. There are no plans to even look at giving Iraq that stand-alone infrastructure before 2010.

So we must take General Casey's words at face value - there will be no withdrawal until at least this time next year. Then we have to add some for the "Bush Factor" - the incompetence of this administration which means, like Cheop's Law, that nothing ever gets done on time or within budget.

Which means that a report released by MoveOn.Org today becomes, rather than speculative, the way the financial wind will certainly blow.
An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office predicted that if the United States keeps forces in Iraq through the end of 2009, an additional $166 billion in Department of Defense funding would be necessary over the FY 2007-16 period. The CBO also predicted that if the United States reduces its deployed forces in Iraq to 40,000 after 2010 and keeps it at that level through 2016, an additional $368 billion in Department of Defense funding would be necessary over the FY 2007-16 period. President Bush has indicated that the US will likely stay in Iraq through the remainder of his term.
With about $319 billion already appropriated to take the war to the end of FY2006, that means a total of around $750 to $850 billion. Then add the Cheop's Law factor one must when considering Bushevik incompetence.

Now the cost of the War in Iraq has been calculated by the Cato Institute as being, per person, $1075 for every American of whatever age. That doesn't sound like much and some conservative pundits have already posed the rhetorical question:
“What Would You Rather Have: 26,783,383 Iraqis free to chose their own government or a new Dell desktop?” Or perhaps, “What Would You Rather Have: Saddam Hussein killing thousands of people a year or a new transmission for the minivan?”
and answered themselves with:
weighed only against a few day’s take-home pay, I’d have to say the cost has been worth the potential payoff.
Well, it may have been only "a few days pay" to the likes of James Joyner but to the millions earning federal minimum wage or thereabouts it amounts to over twenty three days pay - a whole month of work, 8% of their annual income. Now it appears we can at least double it to at least 16% of a year's wages for the lowest paid. On the budgets that work at such low wages, that's the sink-or-swim difference and then some.

We could put that rhetorical question as "Which would you rather have, 26,783,383 Iraqis free to chose their own government or 37,000,000 Americans unable to clothe, feed and house themselves or their families?"

Or we could put it any number of other ways. (Hat tip to Kat for the link)
Taxpayers in Texas will pay $26.1 billion for the cost of war in Iraq. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

5,754,580 People with Health Care or
487,283 Elementary School Teachers or
3,682,439 Head Start Places for Children or
17,358,606 Children with Health Care or
353,289 Affordable Housing Units or
3,729 New Elementary Schools or
6,220,333 Scholarships for University Students or
473,521 Music and Arts Teachers or
641,960 Public Safety Officers or
32,953,113 Homes with Renewable Electricity or
454,610 Port Container Inspectors
Now double all those amounts. You can do the same analysis for your own home state.

Still happy that the Busheviks have doubled-down on their own lame-brained bet on an open table with no cap on wagers and with no end even remotely in sight until at least the next president takes office?