Was Iraq Really Worth $4 Trillion?
Why are we not surprised at this news?
Ten years after the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, the country's oil industry is poised to boom and make the troubled nation the No. 2 oil exporter in the world.
But the nation that's moving to take advantage of Iraq's riches isn't the United States. It's China.
Iraq hasn't become the bonanza for big Western international oil companies that some might have expected when the U.S. invaded 10 years ago.
It's a different story, though, for the U.S. oil field services and engineering companies that have established dominant positions in Iraq. That includes Halliburton, the company that Iraq war booster Dick Cheney led before he became vice president.
It is no mystery that much of what Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld said about the war's likely outcome and the indirect message it had for our access to that oil was nothing more than treasonous garbage, especially when the true cost of this war is now known:
A new exhaustive analysis undertaken by Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer Linda Bilmes indicates that the U.S. military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in "the most expensive wars in U.S. history." And, as a result she argues, the federal government will face some extremely difficult defense budget tradeoffs in the years ahead.
Bilmes, who is a former CFO of the US Department of Commerce, calculated all direct and indirect war related expenditures, "including long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs." The total pricetag, she calculates, will amount to between $4 and 6 trillion dollars.
"The largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid," Bilmes writes. "Since 2001, the US has expanded the quality, quantity, availability and eligibility of benefits for military personnel and veterans. This has led to unprecedented growth in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense budgets. These benefits will increase further over the next 40 years."
There are still nimrods around like Mr. Gal Luft of the Institute for Analysis of Global Security, who tries to make the point that China's access and development of those Iraqi supplies would still benefit the United States as long as oil prices came down as a result. This is purely a Cheneyesque cost-benefit analysis to the issue, where the only thing that matters is the cost for another barrel of oil. I wish the world was that simple. More intelligent adults know that a war that will cost this country $2-4 trillion renders any such shortsighted analysis based on the cost of oil alone irrelevant.
Is it really in this country's national interest to go into debt $2-4 trillion just to let the Chinese develop oil fields and maybe lessen the cost of oil years from now?