September 01, 2004

A board tally of the cost of the war in Iraq for the US. Not much to say about it. Here's a rundown of where they got the figures.
  • If only it were this simple. What is an American life worth? An Iraqi life? What cost is too high to shut down a rape camp? When does it become too expensive to stop Kurds from being gassed? How much is too much to start the middle east on the long, expensive road to stability? Which is less expensive, soldiers or aid, cruise missiles or oil-for-food dollars that go to build palaces? There are more American dollars than Iraqi dinars in this world, and the colossal engine of American conomics behind them - how much MORE expensive would it be to wait for Iraq to come up with their own cash, to cover their own tab? Conversely, how much of our economic power - and future economic conditions, since we are running deficits to finance this, and deficits are part of what caused the brutal recession of the early 80's - are we willing to spend on a people who apparently didn't want us there in the first place? What is the cost of failed relations with Europe? What's the opportunity cost of keeping the oil flowing? The *human* cost of keeping the oil flowing? This not to spark a debate on the rightness or wrongness of the Iraq War - we all have our opinions, and they are unlikely to change. I only wish to point out that a little spinning dollar wheel doesn't even come close to approximating the real costs, positive and negative, of the War, both today and in the future. It is simply another polemic, a simple billboard, badly drawn and distilling the vast complexity of the situation into a single - and ultimately, inaccurate, as distillations always are - number. Numbers can be important, some more than others. But they never tell the entire tale.
  • I both love and hate this kind of thing. Here's one reason. Good point and all, but that would never have happened anyway. Fes: nicely said.
  • Fes is a great guy. But you knew that.
  • "Beyond the Euphrates began for us the land of mirage and danger, the sands where one helplessly sank, and the roads which ended in nothing. The slightest reversal would have resulted in a jolt to our prestige giving rise to all kinds of catastrophe; the problem was not only to conquer but to conquer again and again, perpetually; our forces would be drained off in the attempt." Emperor Hadrian AD 117-138