Monday, March 10, 2008

Iraq: The $12 Billion A Month War

In 2008, its sixth year, the Iraq War will cost approximately $12 billion a month, triple the "burn" rate of its earliest years, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and co-author Linda J. Bilmes report in a new book.

Beyond 2008, working with "best-case" and "realistic-moderate" scenarios, they project the Iraq and Afghan wars, including long-term U.S. military occupations of those countries, will cost the U.S. budget between $1.7 trillion and $2.7 trillion — or more — by 2017. Interest alone on money borrowed to pay those costs could add another $816 billion to that bottom line, they say.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has done its own projections and comes in lower, forecasting a cumulative cost by 2017 of $1.2 trillion to $1.7 trillion for the two wars, with Iraq generally accounting for three-quarters of the costs.

Variations in such estimates stem from the sliding scales of assumptions, scenarios and budget items that are counted. But whatever the estimate, the cost will be huge, the auditors of the Government Accountability Office say.

In their book, "The Three Trillion Dollar War," Stiglitz, of Columbia University, and Bilmes, of Harvard, report the two wars will have cost the U.S. budget $845 billion in 2007 dollars by next Sept. 30, end of fiscal year 2008, assuming Congress fully funds Bush administration requests. That counts not just military operations, but embassy costs, reconstruction and other war-related expenses.

That total far surpasses the $670 billion in 2007 dollars the Congressional Research Service says was the U.S. price tag for the 12-year Vietnam War.

The two economists say their calculations are conservative, because they don't encompass many "hidden" items in the U.S. budget. Their basic projections also exclude the potentially huge debt-service cost — on which CBO approximately agrees — and the cost to the U.S. economy of global oil prices that have quadrupled since 2003, an increase analysts blame partly on the Iraq upheaval. Estimating all economic and social costs might push the U.S. war bill up toward $5 trillion by 2017, they say. All this makes one wonder if anyone is home in Washington D.C. I'm sure co-author Joseph E. Stiglitz wonders the same. Find out more about his books at:

Research info gathered at:

Now, here's one of my poems longing for peace:

The Important Words Are Underlined

Did I ever tell you about the time oil from
a leaky canister seeped into my thoughts

then expressed its dissatisfaction with my
sexual life. Or what about the time a wisp

broom popped-up out of my shoulder and
then preceded to brush the dandruff away.

Then there was the time I drew a circle in
my bathroom mirror with shaving cream

and Beethoven’s Fifth came pouring out
through it. See what always happens when

you unfurl the celestial flag of pure astral
physiognomy from vast dripping muzzles.

Automatically a one-horned unicorn will
appear, and you can bet your lift it’s been

dry cleaned and disinfected first. Now, sit
back and feet up like a sunrise.

Poem first published at:
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Copyright by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.

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