The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, April 28, 2006

Costs of Iraq operations to soar in 2006

For at least a year and a half we've been seeing the occasional article about billions of taxpayer dollars going missing in Iraq-- even though the tens of billions spent on reconstruction have led to lackluster results, at best. Electricity, water, and oil production all remain well below pre-war levels more than three years after the infamous 'Mission Accomplished' photo-op.

The report details how operations, maintenance and procurement costs have surged from $50 billion in 2004 to $88 billion this year, citing rising expenditures for body armor, oil and gasoline; equipment maintenance; and training and equipping Afghan and Iraqi security forces.

"These factors, however, are not enough to explain a 50-percent increase of over $20 billion in operating costs," the report states.

War-related investment costs have more than tripled since 2003, from $7 billion to $24 billion, as money has been spent on armored vehicles, radios, sensors and night-vision goggles, as well as on equipment for reorganized Army and Marine Corps units.

"These reasons are not sufficient, however, to explain the level of increases," the report states again.

It's understandable that the increasingly hostile and unstable situation in Iraq make things more risky and more expensive-- but not, apparently, to a degree that warrants the extra $28 billion.

A few things have become pretty obvious, though: A) Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's "streamlined" military is both smaller and much less efficient. B) Vice President Cheney's friends at Halliburton have raked in billions of dollars by overcharging US taxpayers and ignoring their contractual obligations. And C) spending on Iraq, at some $250 billion and counting, still has a long, long way to go. One estimate, which I'm too lazy to look up right now, sets the final cost at $2 trillion. And just today, Bush was loudly reaffirming his opposition to raising taxes in any way, shape or form.