Nobel prize winning, former chief economist with the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz has coauthored (with Linda Bilmes) a book on the Iraq conflict. There are lots of books on Iraq, but few so revealing. It is called ‘The Three Trillion Dollar War’ and based on that that price I will concede use of the word war.
Let’s start with the trivia, just to get the mind around some numbers.
• Private security contractors earn up to $1222 a day; army sergeants between $150 and $190 a day.
• Bush economic advisor Larry Lindsay said the war would cost $200 billion
• Donald Rumsfeld called that figure baloney and quoted $50 – $60 billion
• Andrew Natsios, Agency for international development, quoted reconstruction at $1.7 billion
• Paul Wolfowitz thought the whole shebang would ‘pay for itself’.
Some hard numbers
• Iraq is currently costing US taxpayers $12.5 billion a month
• Seven US soldiers are injured for every fatality
• In Vietnam there were only 2.6 injuries per fatality
• 45% of the 7000 US troops in the first Gulf War filed for disability which now costs $4.3 billion a year.
I haven’t done the math yet, but $3 trillion sounds impressive. We are assuming around 45% disability claims on much higher raw numbers and actual casualties.
The good news is, as the bills start to trickle then flood in, the US will not be in any economic shape to prosecute any more of these misadventures, at least for a generation or so. The Bush administration has just pissed your future up against the wall.