The Three Trillion Dollar War
Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-winning economist, has written a book, along with Linda Bilmes, looking at the true cost of the Iraq war. He's interviewed here in the Guardian. To permanently borrow the phrase from Andrew Sullivan, here's the money quote:
Combined with the war, whoever inherits the White House faces a crisis of epic proportions. Where do they go from here? "The way that shapes the debate," says Stiglitz, "is that Americans have to say, 'Even if we stay for another two years, just two years, and we're spending $12bn a month up front in Iraq, and it's costing us another 50% in healthcare, disability, bringing it up to $18bn a month in Iraq, and you look at that in another 24 months, we're talking about half a trillion dollars more for two years - forgetting about the economic cost, the ancillary costs, the social costs - just looking at the budgetary cost - not including the interest - you have to say, is this the way we want to spend a half a trillion dollars? Will it make America stronger? Will it make the Middle East safer? Is this the way we want to spend it?"
The answer to Stiglitz's four rhetorical questions is a resounding no, and it applies to the U.S. military's situation in many more places than just Iraq.