From January 2003:
“Q: Mr. Secretary, on Iraq, how much money do you think the Department of Defense would need to pay for a war with Iraq?
Rumsfeld: Well, the Office of Management and Budget, has come up come up with a number that’s something under $50 billion for the cost. How much of that would be the U.S. burden, and how much would be other countries, is an open question.”
And from March, 2013:
“Overall, including all military and diplomatic costs and other aid, the U.S. has spent at least $767 billion since the American-led invasion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. National Priorities Project, a U.S. research group that analyzes federal data, estimated the cost at $811 billion, noting that some funds are still being spent on ongoing projects.”
Emphasis mine, in both cases.
Where to start, where to start? How about here: That 811 billion dollar figure? That doesn’t include the cost of ongoing medical and psychiatric care for veterans for of the occupation for the next several decades, which – conservatively – will top $200 billion more dollars. So the Iraq experiment has cost us an easy one trillion dollars.
Of course, it’s poor form to restate that the reasons we went to war were, oh, what’s the word? Oh yeah, lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction – or if there were, both the Bush and Obama administrations chose not to tell us about them. We know Al Qaeda was never in Iraq until the invasion destabilized Iraq. So we know there was no national security reason for this bloody, expensive and hopeless operation. And we know it cost about 20 times as much as we were told it would cost.
And we know no one – not the Representatives who voted for it, not the Senators who spoke for it, not the media who enabled it, not the Administration who birthed it, and not the high-level warriors who planned and executed it – has been held accountable in any meaningful way.
The other thing we know is that this unfunded war, prosecuted in tandem with historic tax cuts, has left the United States of America in an untenable financial circumstance. For which we are supposed to blame “entitlements.” We are supposed to blame the aged, the infirm, the children … the least among us … for our budgetary woes. We’re supposed to forget the real culprit, which was an unbridled desire for empire-building.
I refuse to forget. And while I am more than willing to forgive, it would be a hell of a lot easier to do if one of the architects of the war would ask the American people for forgiveness.
My conservative friends like to laugh and ask when the Left will stop blaming Bush. I can’t answer for everyone on the Left. I can’t even answer for all of us who predicted the folly of this experience before it ever started. But for this lefty, I can tell you I will stop blaming Bush when he accepts blame. When he and Rumsfeld and Cheney and the rest “man up” and say, “Yes, we were wrong. This was expensive and misguided and I’m sorry.”
Which I don’t expect will ever happen.
So when will I stop blaming Bush? The ball is in his court.