Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Value For Money?

It is difficult to estimate the total costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan military operations, but the newest figure is $1.6 trillion. This figure does not attempt to price the suffering caused by the wars nor does it include the costs that fall to parties other than the United States.

A trillion is an astonishing amount of money. And what is it that we are all buying with 1.6 units of trillions? Peace for all time? End of terrorism? A vibrant and democratic Iraq at least? Or two more theocratic Muslim states, after some more blood-letting? Do we at least get an unending stream of oil now?

The answer to that last question might depend on what we mean by a stream of oil. It's available, at a price:

Oil prices have surged since the start of the war, from about $37 a barrel to well over $90 a barrel in recent weeks, the report said. "Consistent disruptions from the war have affected oil prices," although the Iraq war is not responsible for all of the increase in oil prices, the report said.

According to George Bush, this country cannot afford to pay Social Security to its elderly, cannot afford to pay health insurance to children who are poor, cannot afford to fix up the environment. Cannot afford. We are broke. But this country can afford to pay trillions for poorly planned wars abroad. Or at least can afford the loans from China to pay for those wars. Or can it? Those chickens seem to be coming home to roost, too.