By Robert Scheer
Sept. 5, 2007
OK, throw another $50 billion down the rat hole that is the Iraq occupation. It’s only money, if you ignore the lives being destroyed. That’s what the White House is asking for, in addition to the $147 billion in supplementary funds already requested, and Congress will grant it after Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker follow President Bush’s photo op in Iraq’s Anbar province with a dog and pony show of their own. Meanwhile, the Democrats are totally cynical about this continuing waste of taxpayer dollars and of American and Iraqi lives, and, wanting Bush to hang himself with his own rope, they will deny him nothing.
In the effort to retaliate against terrorists who hijacked planes six years ago with an arsenal of $3 knives, this year’s overall defense budget has been pushed to $657 billion. We are now spending $3 billion a week in Iraq alone, occupying a country that had nothing to do with the tragedy that sparked this orgy of militarism. The waste is so enormous and irrelevant to our national security that a rational person might embrace the libertarian creed if only for the sake of sanity. Clearly, the federal government no longer cares much about providing for health, education, hurricane reconstruction or even bridge safety, as the military budget now dwarfs all other discretionary spending, despite the lack of a sophisticated enemy in sight.
Numbers are boring, and the media act as if there is no difference between a million and a billion dollars thrown at the military-let alone the trillion-dollar projected cost of the Iraq war. That last figure is well documented in a solid study out of Harvard co-authored by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz but ignored by the mass media So too a recent authoritative report from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office that, despite the $44.5 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars already poured into reconstruction, little detectable progress has been made in Iraq’s crucial oil and electricity systems.