VIEW FROM THE TRENCH ARCHIVES (Selected Past Trench Articles)
NOTE: The following was originally written and published by me on this site, prior to the start of the Iraq war. Based on the current budget deficit of the United States as of April 2004, which is in large part due to the war, it seems appropriate to post this article for readers to again consider.
PAYING FOR THE WAR WITH OIL FROM IRAQ:
Nobody wants war; but it's coming soon. According to Dan Rather, February 27, 2003, discussing his interview with Saddam, on Larry King, the United States is already at war with Iraq. In weeks, if not days, the situation will escalate into a full scale conflict of enormous size. Putting aside the human cost, for which no dollar amount could ever represent; the economic cost to the United States for such a war, will likely be anywhere between 100 to 200 Billion dollars. Naturally, the White House is down playing the economic costs; but estimates have been put forth from just about every side and every government office since last fall. In an interview with the New York Times, Mitch Daniels, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said that a conflict with Iraq wold cost 50 to 60 Billion. For reference, the Persian Gulf war in 1991, had an estimated total cost of 61 Billion. Last Fall, former economic adviser Larry Lindsey, estimated that war with Iraq might cost 200 billion. Lindsey's popularity with the White house after that went way down, and finally out the door. Around the same time, the congressional democrats offered their own estimate of 93 Billion, and this figure does not include the additional cost of U.S. peacekeeping after the war or assistance and aid programs following the war to the people of Iraq. Also not included in these estimates, are the outright gifts of money and arms to other countries for their support. In the case of Turkey, should access be granted, it is nothing short of extortion, to the tune of over 25 Billion, which also was not included in the earlier estimates. Remember also, that in the Persian Gulf war, of the 61 Billion in estimated total cost, that participating nations paid for approximately 48 Billion of that amount. This time around, the lion's share of that amount will be borne by the United States alone.
So how will America pay for it? The answer: Deficit spending. There isn't any money to pay for it. America is already in debt and engaged in more deficit spending, just to pay the normal operating costs of the Country. If you or I, as individuals, operated this way, we would find ourselves in Bankruptcy Court, so far under, there would be no way out. Also, just as a side note, consider this: The purpose of the Federal Bankruptcy Laws is to offer relief to individuals and businesses that got into too much debt, without deliberate intent to defraud. Since the United States is going into more and more debt, knowing that there won't be income to pay it, even without the war, what excuse will we have.
Fortunately, there may be a partial answer, at least to the cost of the war. The answer is Oil. Iraq is rich in natural resources. If the United States has to take care of the problem in Iraq, then I submit that there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking enough of Iraq's oil to pay for the war. The United States could take it all. In just about any other war, the victor always gets the spoils. However, the United States is a Nation of Just Cause, acting in the interest of security and the elimination of a World threat. Our purpose is not to conquer another Country, enslave it's people or to steal it's Oil. That said, there is nothing wrong with selling enough of Iraq's oil to pay for every dollar spent. This would have to be done over a period of years; but after the war is over, America is going to be in Iraq for quite some time anyway. In fact, I would propose going even further. In addition to covering the cost of every bomb, cruise missile, military paycheck, grants and fighter jets to other countries, down to the last bullet and humanitarian aid package, I see no reason why the United States should not be re-imbursed for the 23 Billion, plus interest, that we are still out, for the cost of the 1991 Gulf war. It was Saddam Hussein that commited a criminal act when he invaded Kuwait. In any Court in the United States, an economic loss that is caused by a criminal act, usually results in an order for restitution to be paid by the wrongdoer to the injured party, in addition to the criminal penalties. This raises another important point. Not only does Iraq have Oil, but re-imbursement could also come from the assets of Saddam Hussein himself; which have been estimated to possibly be half a Trillion dollars. So, if the United States is going to have to do the job for the rest of the world, to protect the citizens of Iraq, the people of Kuwait, Iran, Israel, to name a few, and World security in general, then the United States should also have balls enough to take control of the economic cost of the job. After all, the alternative is to bankrupt America; and if that happens, then Saddam Hussein and the rest of the terrorists, related or not, have already won the war.