It’s time for outrage

A day or so ago, I added a counter to my right column. It counts the cost of the Iraq war for the US. I thought that $500,000,000,000 was an unimaginably high figure (especially when you see what that money could have done). But that wasn’t even scratching the truth, according to two Nobel prize-winning researchers.

There’s an article in today’s Guardian about the true cost of the war. If you haven’t already heard, make sure you’re sitting down, and then read on.

Some time in 2005, [Joseph] Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, who also served as an economic adviser under Clinton, noted that the official Congressional Budget Office estimate for the cost of the war so far was of the order of $500bn. The figure was so low, they didn’t believe it, and decided to investigate. The paper they wrote together, and published in January 2006, revised the figure sharply upwards, to between $1 and $2 trillion. Even that, Stiglitz says now, was deliberately conservative: “We didn’t want to sound outlandish.” <snip, snip>

…Stiglitz and Bilmes dug deeper, and what they have discovered, after months of chasing often deliberately obscured accounts, is that in fact Bush’s Iraqi adventure will cost America – just America – a conservatively estimated $3 trillion. The rest of the world, including Britain, will probably account for about the same amount again. And in doing so they have achieved something much greater than arriving at an unimaginable figure: by describing the process, by detailing individual costs, by soberly listing the consequences of short-sighted budget decisions, they have produced a picture of comprehensive obfuscation and bad faith whose power comes from its roots in bald fact. (emphasis added)

I’m dumbfounded. How can our leaders have done this? How can the American people have allowed this to happen? Why haven’t I done something?

During the first Gulf War I did some protesting. I’m beginning to think it’s that time again. It’s not that we are spending THREE TRILLION DOLLARS. It’s that we’ve been lied to again and again. And we’ve believed it. It’s what that money could do. THREE TRILLION DOLLARS. Why are we talking about health insurance? Why are we talking about homelessness? If we have THREE TRILLION DOLLARS to fight an optional war, we should have had that much money to give people some health care, some clothes, and a great education. And a pound of gold bullion for each person. OK, I made that last part up. I was trying to lighten the mood.

Why aren’t Christians up in arms about this? This offends every possible Christian sensibility. I’m going to write about this some more, I can tell. After I calm down a little. In the meantime, I have a book to read.

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