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The cost of war

February 22, 2007

Blair defends Iraq record. That’s the headline in today’s Independent. It’s also the one headline I have seen more often than any other in the British press. That’s all he ever does, is defend his Iraq record.

Which is indefensible.

It’s all about money, of course, and the West wanting to control oil fields – presumably to stop China getting their hands on it. And because they like blowing things up.

But let’s look at it in financial terms. Here is the running cost of the war to date. This is just the money spent by the US, and doesn’t include reconstruction costs and so on. Watch those figures tick over.

For perspective, here are graphs comparing the money spent on the Iraq war to that spent on cancer research and so on.

Joseph Stiglitz – former chief economist at the World Bank and generally well-respected in mainstream circles – is co-author of a study that estimates that the war will cost over $2 trillion. Yes, that’s right – $2 trillion.

Here’s a good blog post that sums up a lot of people’s initial reactions:

War Could Cost Over $2 Trillion — Wouldn’t it Have Been Cheaper Just to Buy Iraq?

Bush talks a lot about his big troop surge. But so far, the plan seems to be to smother sectarians in Iraq with money. After reports last week that we shipped 363 tons of $100 bills on pallets to Iraq, we learn that the Government Accountability Office as determined that we’ve wasted — literally wasted — billions in Iraq.

$2 trillion is an absolutely meaningless figure – I can’t even comprehend that amount of money.

Except it’s not meaningless, because it’s real money being spent on murder, rape and destruction.

Imagine, for a second, if we put that much money, that much spin, that much human passion and energy, into making the world a better place. It blows the mind. Imagine a massive injection of resources, a rallying of focus and energy, to create a virtuous circle of peace, love and harmony.

Imagine there’s no countries… nothing to kill or die for…

Iraq has become a rallying point for the scum of the earth – it’s full of mercenaries from South Africa and other war zones. The South Africans were in various special branches during the apartheid years, and now find their skills under utilised at home. I’m sure there are similar patterns with countries, to say nothing of opportunistic Islamic groups using the Oil Crusade as an excuse to get their hands on the resources.

So what’s the ‘solution’, is what everyone is asking. Well, I don’t have one. Apart from the fact that it’s not the role of progressive people to rescue imperialists when they get themselves into a pickle, it really is a tough one.

I usually go for supporting local democratic forces, such as unions and women’s groups and grassroots media, but it’s kind of too late for that now – the nutcases on all sides are heavily armed and there are so many different interest groups and the whole thing seems such a complicated mess I can’t see any workable solution – apart from the fact that the UK and US have an obligation to fix what they broke.

Anyone have any better ideas?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dylan permalink
    March 14, 2007 12:07 am

    The US and UK may have an obligation to fix what they broke, but I doubt they have the will. I don’t see any way out either, apart from global economic meltdown. Some perspective on that 2 trillion dollars: 1.1% of all monetary value generated by all of humankind (based on the estimate that in its financial project, our species has generated 55 trillion dollars of monetary value).

  2. Dylan permalink
    March 14, 2007 12:07 am

    The US and UK may have an obligation to fix what they broke, but I doubt they have the will. I don’t see any way out either, apart from global economic meltdown. Some perspective on that 2 trillion dollars: 1.1% of all monetary value generated by all of humankind (based on the estimate that in its financial project, our species has generated 55 trillion dollars of monetary value).

  3. Walton permalink
    March 14, 2007 10:01 pm

    I’m with you on that one, brother. It seems like only when Babylon falls will we get the chance to change things. Then Britain will realise it can’t feed itself and come crying to Africa for help.

  4. Walton permalink
    March 14, 2007 10:01 pm

    I’m with you on that one, brother. It seems like only when Babylon falls will we get the chance to change things. Then Britain will realise it can’t feed itself and come crying to Africa for help.

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