Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Iraq : The $500 Billion War...For Now

$10,000 Spent Every 2 Seconds

$12 Trillion Worth Of Oil Estimated Under Iraq's Sands

The Iraq War is on track to become the most expensive US conflict since the end of World War 2, as the direct spending by the US Defence Department storms towards $500 billion. And yet the oil under the sands of Iraq is now predicted to be worth up to $12 trillion.

The Korean and Vietnam wars have been estimated to have cost some $600 billion in today's money, while World War 2 may have cost as much as, take a deep breath, $5 trillion.

As President Bush and the Democrat-controlled Congress go down to the mat over the signing of a new defence funding bill, worth more than $130 billion, the costs of the Iraq War look set to steam past $550 billion by September.

But the long term costs of the war are expected to double even that extraordinary figure.

The long-term care and rehabilitation of US veterans of the war, the costs of rebuilding and repairing the American military equipment and gear stockpiles, are estimated to eventually push the overall costs of the war, even if troop withdrawals began at the end of the year, to well over $1.3 trillion.

And yet, despite the horrific violence, the vast loss of American and Iraqi life and treasure, and the shattering of America's international reputation, Iraq is still the grandest oil prize in the world.

To control Iraq's oil for decades to come, even by way of a US-friendly Iran-aligned government, means the US can contain the growth of future superpowers like India and China, who remain 'addicted' to oil-produced energy to fuel their economies, and are likely to remain so well in the 2020s.

Iraqi oil can cost as little as $2 per barrel to extract, with minimal refining costs. If security improves, some estimates claim Iraq could be producing 4 million barrels of oil per day within five years. With a predicted 200 billion barrels of oil in reserves, in today's market this means Iraq's oil wealth alone could be worth as much as $12 trillion.

Once the insurgency and foreign terrorists are contained, and Iraqi oil flows at near maximum output capacity, Iraq is going to be one very rich Middle East country, for decades to come.

The United States, not surprisingly, wants its corporations and industries to be in the best possible position to help Iraq spend that new wealth, on rebuilding, restructuring and recreating the country, and its people, into the very model of what President Bush, and various NeoCons, dream that a 21st century Middle East financial behemoth should look, sound and smell like.

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A story from McClatchy Newspapers claims that the $500 billion costs of the Iraq War so far are some ten times what the Bush administration originally anticipated, and claimed, the entire venture would cost :

Congressional Democrats and Bush agree that they cannot let their dispute over a withdrawal timetable block the latest cash installment for Iraq. Once that political fight is resolved, Congress can focus on the president's request for $116 billion more for the war in the fiscal year that starts on Sept. 1.

The combined spending requests would push the total for Iraq to $564 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

Before the war, administration officials confidently predicted that the conflict would cost about $50 billion. White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey lost his job after he offered a $200 billion estimate - a prediction that drew scorn from his administration colleagues.

"They had no concept of what they were getting into in terms of lives or cost," said Winslow Wheeler, who monitors defense spending for the Center for Defense Information, a nonpartisan research institute.

Bush and his economic advisers defend the growing cost as the price of national security.

"It's worth it," Bush said last May, when the tab was in the $320 billion range. "I wouldn't have spent it if it wasn't worth it."

With oil wealth alone worth up to $12 trillion, perhaps Bush is not wrong in saying "It's worth it". But it will only be financially "worth it" for the US if it manages to remain a powerful force of change and influence in Iraq in the next two decades

So what could $500 billion have paid for if it had been spent on American health and education?

A college education - tuition, fees, room and board at a public university - for about half of the nation's 17 million high-school-age teenagers.

Pre-school for every 3- and 4-year-old in the country for the next eight years.

A year's stay in an assisted-living facility for about half of the 35 million Americans age 65 or older.

You can see for yourself just how rapidly the US is spending money on the Iraq War at Cost Of War. When I checked the site earlier today, the spending was clocking over at a rate of $10,000 every two seconds.

Will The NeoCon Dream For Iraq Come True?

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Sunni Ministers Threaten To Quit Cabinet - Claim Shia Ministers Refuse To Act On Sunni Concerns - Shia Seen As Attempting To Wait Out Sunnis

Baghdad's Green Zone Rocked By Mortar Rocket Attacks - Near Daily Insurgent Assaults

300,000 Iraqis Flee Horrors Of Their War-Torn Country In Six Months; US Admits Only 88

Claim : Iraq's Oil Can Be Extracted At Cost Of Only $2 Per Barrel - Predicted Production Could Increase To 4 Million Barrels Per Day Within Five Years - Estimated Reserves Of 200 Billion Barrels

US Rebuilding In Iraq Misses Many Key Goals, Billions Of Dollars Wasted

You Must Leave Iraq, Sadr Tells "One Eyed AntiChrist" Bush

Kurds Look Set To Block Iraq Oil Law, As They Cut Their Own Deals For Drilling And Development Internationally

Report Claims $3 Billion Of Iraq Oil Revenue Goes Missing Annually