Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Hanging of Saddam Hussein

How Many Lives Does One Death Cost?

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.
The Iraq Study Group called on President Bush to include Iraq war costs in the budget he will send up in February, but there is no indication the president will comply.

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.
Chicago Tribune

11 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Unknown said...

Again, a truly enlightening post Vigilante.

I realize that the macabre Saddam hanging background may not be the right setting but I think there's no better time than today to post here my sincere happy new year greetings - Happy New Year, Vigilante! - accompanied by a wish: that you achieve everything you've set forth in your agenda!

1/03/2007 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Kentucky Rain said...

Ditto to what H&H said Vigil! I wish you the best in the coming year.

1/03/2007 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger DB Cooper said...

How much of this fiasco was American as opposed to Iraqi?

1/03/2007 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of it.

1/03/2007 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't do this often but right now and right here I will divulge being a bit slow. It seems to take just a little longer for me to catch on with lot of things. This has never been the case with seeing through the Bush's agenda. This also seem to be the same with the most non Americans which leaves me wondering - why is that?

Granted, that America is a wonderful place to live and prosper but, like any other place on earth, she has her problems. As I see it, one of the major task for America should be shrinking of the rapidly widening gap between the haves and have-nots. If you don't, you will have more to worry about the home grown "terrorism" than that other kind.

Billions upon billions that could and should go to fight injustices at home for the obvious benefits for all are now thrown into the desert winds of Iraq with no benefit to Iraqis or Americans. The magnitude of this insane waist in terms of human lifes and dollars is such that my slow intake cannot fully fathom it.

1/03/2007 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger Messenger said...

To answer Cooper's question: Saddam was always in our custody; we coached all aspects of the trial, judges and prosecutors; we paid court salaries; arranged for protection; we delivered Saddam to the gallows; we removed his corpse; we flew his body back to Tikrit for burial. What did we leave out?

1/03/2007 05:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doh. It was a no-brainer. Iran is next on their to-do list then maybe NK though priorities have shifted a bit...I wouldn't count Nigeria out of the running. Ah, so many regimes to conquer, so little time.

I'm not terribly worried about an "Islamic terrorist" attack...another "big one" now and we'll obliterate at least one country. Boom, goodbye.

I agree with Pekka, it's going to be homegrown.

1/03/2007 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger Recidivist said...

Pekka, a Canadian, sees transparently through the opaque looking glass that fools my myopic fellow Americans: Bush & Co are winning the class war without declaring it.

1/03/2007 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Sapo said...

If only I could stop thinking about the "costs" of war and focus instead on the "benefits" that accrue every day to our brave defense contractors and fearless oil barrons, all would be well.

1/04/2007 06:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

m.d., you get the point.
Pekka, right on. Except for the money part. Class warfare looms here.
not your mama , If they attack Iran now , our proxy or ourselves, then it may start a third world war. The Russians have backed and financed Iran's nuclear program.
The war was waged to make money for special interests. What a great success it has been. They are laughing merrily. ~!~

1/04/2007 07:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More than 3,000 GIs are now dead — that's forever. Thousands more have been wounded, many maimed for life. We have spent billions of dollars, and some say the total price tag for Bush's adventure in Iraq could go as high as $1 trillion. We cannot afford a real healthcare system, a real retirement system, and our educational system is in shambles. But we can flush our kids and treasure into the mess that is Iraq. So Saddam Hussein was executed, so what?

1/06/2007 01:31:00 PM  

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