Billions and billions and billions
A recent article appearing in the Boston Globe predicted that the occupation in Iraq, which has already cost 500 billion, may ultimately cost a full trillion dollars, in addition to the cost in lives lost and soldiers wounded.
Here are some very interesting, and depressing, factoids that occured to me after reading the article.
1. When one of the administration's advisors estimated in 2003 that operations could cost as much as 200 billion, he was fired.
2. According to Robert A. Sunshine, assistant director for budget analysis at the budget office, Iraq is now costing ten percent of the federal government's appropriated funds (no surprise then that the social security disability and SSI disability benefits programs are sinking into a quagmire due to funding problems).
3. Americans who pay taxes will feel the fallout of this for at least a decade.
Will Iraq cost a full trillion? Without having a crystal ball, I'd say yes. Simply because there does not seem to be a viable exit strategy. Leaving at any point simply guarantees the outbreak of civil war in the region. However, many would argue that this fact alone makes the situation pointless and, for this reason, the nation---this nation---should cut its losses and focus more on al-quaeda operatives entrenched elsewhere versus disgruntled iraqi insurgents.
Will Americans feel the fallout for a decade? That much is guaranteed. In fact, having ten percent of annually appropriated funds vacuumed out of the federal tax coffers couldn't come at a worse time. Social security, medicare, and medicaid currently consume 40 percent of the federal budget and are predicted to consume 75 percent of the federal budget by 2030. The future solvency of these programs is, unquestioningly, in doubt. Additionally, to make matters worse, the dollar in recent times has been exceedingly weak and the chinese government has threatened, indirectly by proxy announcement through a think tank, to trigger a crash of the dollar if trade policy is not slanted toward their favor.
Defending the nation, of course, is never a negotiable item. But for individuals on both sides of the Iraq debate, the questions to pursue are probably as follows:
1. What is the true goal in Iraq? (is it to fight terrorism or is it to contain Iraqi insurgents and prevent civil war?)
2. Are we currently accomplishing the goal? (there are a number of metrics by which to measure this, but one would certainly include the ability to forecast an end to operations).
3. Is America's position in the world (strategic, diplomatic, financial, etc) improving, or getting worse?
4. Are Americans safer due to operations in Iraq, or less safe?
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