The Hanging of Saddam Hussein
Time magazine reported that in March 2002, a full year before the invasion, Bush disclosed his real intentions toward Iraq. The president stuck his head in the door of a White House meeting between National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and three senators discussing strategies for dealing with Iraq through the United Nations. The senators laughed uncomfortably at Bush’s remark when he said,
Fuck Saddam. We’re taking him out.Well, as the world now knows, Bush has finally seen to the fucking of Saddam Hussein as of last Friday. Accounts differ, depending on who in Iraq you talk to, as to whether he was executed or lynched.
Whichever it was, it is also fitting that we ask how much it has cost America for Bush to launch his hanging posse. But there again, accounts differ.
Most estimates indicate that before our Anglo-American posse returns from Iraq, Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI) will have easily cost current and future generations of Americans $1 trillion.
But, in truth, we can't be sure of any of these numbers, since the Pentagon says it cannot tell us what the war has already cost, will not tell us what it might cost in the future and has ignored congressional requests and legislation asking for honest budgets, transparent reports on spending and projections of future costs.
Senators and representatives have had to rely on their own estimates to get some sense of the costs for the war. The Congressional Research Service estimates that Iraq has already cost about $380 billion, before the next "emergency" request, but confesses that in the absence of data from the Pentagon, it cannot be sure this is correct.
- The Pentagon doesn't ask Congress for money for Iraq; it asks for money for the global war on terrorism, or GWOT, without sorting out what belongs to Iraq, what to Afghanistan and what to other operations. Congress has already provided more than $500 billion for the GWOT, roughly 75 percent of it for Iraq.
- The Pentagon doesn't provide details on what the funds will be spent on. Instead, it asks for lump sums for things like "operations and maintenance, Army," and hopes to be trusted that those funds will go toward Iraq and not some other operation.
- The Pentagon sends up the GWOT budget as an "emergency," which means it hasn't been through the tough scrutiny of its own budget offices.
- The Pentagon has asked for things that aren't emergencies, like helicopters and aircraft and funds to transform Army divisions into separate operating brigades. These belong in the regular budget, but the Iraq emergency is a handy way to buy things that wouldn't fit in the regular budget. "Emergency" requests escape the scrutiny of the congressional budget and armed services committees, and go straight to the appropriators--the ones who vote the money--with very little time for them to take a close look at the details.
- Once the Pentagon has the money, it does not report back to Congress on how the money has actually been spent. Repeated legislation requiring such reporting has been rebuffed with the argument that one cannot sort out Iraq from everything else.
As to the human costs of the UULUIUOI, there is also a degree of uncertainty.
We do have statistical clarity about our KIA: 3,003. We are clear about our service men and women sustaining wounds: 22,032. We have to remember a large portion of wounds suffered - 12,458 - were serious enough to require retirement from combat. Of these, a large but undetermined percentage of guys and gals have sustained life-altering injuries involving amputations, severance of spinal columns, blindness, internal organ damage and brain damage. To provide our heroes and their families with the rehabilitative care and support they deserve will not be a measurable societal cost during their life times.
All of the above costs are tangible in some sense. The untangible costs of the UULUIUOI, include the imponderable damage to America's reputation as a force for peace and justice in the world.
Arranging for the hanging of Saddam Hussein has been the most costly lynching in American history.