U.S. Economy: It's The Iraq War, Stupid
Osama (bin Laden) doesn't have to win; he will just bleed us to death.-- MICHAEL SCHEUER
You certainly didn't hear President Bush say that during his State of the Union address on Monday night; in fact, he glossed over the war. Nothing about holding the Iraqis accountable. Nothing about the successes of the Surge in danger of being squandered. And certainly nothing about troop withdrawals.
As a matter of fact, there has been shockingly little discussion from presidential candidates or anyone else as the economy does a pretty good imitation of sliding into recession concerning the enormously negative impact Bush's Forever War is having on America's overall fiscal health, including a burgeoning budget deficit and the fact that our children's children will be paying for this misadventure long after we're dead and gone.Initial estimates that the war would cost less than a hundred billion bucks were famously undercut by White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey who offered an "upper bound" estimate of $100 billion to $200 billion in a September 2002 interview with The Wall Street Journal, but argued that "The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy."
Ha, ha, ha.
Well, let's see: Direct spending on the war is expected to reach one trillion dollars with indirect spending contributing billions more even if the U.S. withdraws in the next year, which is not going to happen. Some economists say the total economic impact will reach $2 trillion.(By way of comparison, The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonpartisan
Now this enormous expenditure of taxpayer money is just peachy if you are a defense contractor like Lockheed, a private security contractor like Blackwater or make artificial limbs, but the fact of the matter is that wars just aren't as good for the economy – especially as the
* Every dollar spent on a bullet is not being spent at home on education, improving and repairing infrastructure and paying down that immense deficit that is Bush's second biggest gift to us beyond the war itself.
* The extensive use of National Guard units has left many communities scrambling to replace police officers, school teachers and others who serve extensive and in some cases repeated war tours.
* Among the indirect costs, the bill for caring for returning vets with physical and emotional problems will be staggering. Conservative estimates put the number of vets in need at over 200,000.
* Tens of billions of dollars have gone into the gaping maw that is Iraqi government corruption never to be seen again.
* Contrary to the president's assertions, his war has further destabilized the Middle East, including playing havoc with oil prices, which is a further drain.
The war in
He can just bleed us to death – and is well on the way to doing so.
Top photograph by Jacob Silberberg/The Associated Press