UNITED NATIONS -- In the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration threatened trade reprisals against friendly countries who withheld their support, spied on its allies, and pressed for the recall of U.N. envoys that resisted U.S. pressure to endorse the war, according to an upcoming book by a top Chilean diplomat.
The rough-and-tumble diplomatic strategy has generated lasting "bitterness" and "deep mistrust" in Washington's relations with allies in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, wrote Heraldo Muñoz, Chile's ambassador to the United Nations, in his book "A Solitary War: A Diplomat's Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons," set for publication next month.
"In the aftermath of the invasion, allies loyal to the United States were rejected, mocked and even punished" for their refusal to back a U.N. resolution authorizing military action against Saddam Hussein's government, Muñoz wrote.
The US "spending" on the Iraq war far exceeds the $3 billion budgeted to get burnt in Iraq each week. We also spent influence. We also burned friends. We also sent about 4000 Americans and a few hundred Brits and other coalition ally soldiers to their deaths so far. Plus, we now have tens of thousands of permanently maimed and brain damaged soldiers coming back from the war. They will require care and produce less and cost more for decades to come. The real cost of the Iraq war runs into the trillions of dollars.
Since vital US interests are not at stake in Iraq these costs are all net costs.
Granted, the cost estimates are squishy and controversial, partly because the $12.5 billion a month that we’re now paying for Iraq is only a down payment. We’ll still be making disability payments to Iraq war veterans 50 years from now. Professor Stiglitz calculates in a new book, written with Linda Bilmes of Harvard University, that the total costs, including the long-term bills we’re incurring, amount to about $25 billion a month. That’s $330 a month for a family of four.
But far too many on the Right can't admit the war is a mistake because they do not want to admit that their ideological enemies could ever be right.
Government founders on problems of incentives and information. On incentives: Should we be surprised that delays, errors and incompetence are more prevalent at the INS than at bureaucracies which must deal with citizens or which face competition from the private sector?
Of course not - but then what incentives does our government have to prevent abuse of foreign citizens? Democracy in this case provides no checks and balances because of anti-foreign bias, the ease with which the public can ignore the deaths of innocents abroad, and the fact that foreigners lack representation in our legislatures or the courts. Thus, Abu Ghraib and the routine shooting of innocents is no surprise - this is what happens when government is unconstrained.
What about the incentives to start wars? Government is bad enough when we all have access to information. What are we going to do when the major source of information is the government itself and they ask us to trust but not verify?
He goes on from there. All worth a read.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2008 March 22 01:01 PM Mideast Iraq Costs|