Monday, July 14, 2003

Occupation of Iraq "Burning" $1 Billion a Week

“This idea that we will be in [Iraq] ‘just as long as we need to and not a day more’,” he said, paraphrasing the administration line, “is rubbish! We’re going to be there a long time.” (Senator Richard) Lugar said he kept demanding answers about the cost to American taxpayers and was not quite getting them. “Where does the money come from?” he asked. “How is it to be disbursed, and by whom?”

Last week, at last, some of the answers started coming in, and they were grim. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a hearing that the “burn rate” for American money to fund the military presence in Iraq was now $3.9 billion a month—almost $1 billion a week. “This is tough stuff,” said a cranky Rumsfeld, lecturing the Senate committee. “This is hard work. This takes time. We need to have some patience.”

But that billion a week is just the beginning. It doesn’t include the cost of running Iraq’s government and rebuilding it, which could be an additional billion a month, according to rough U.N. estimates made before the war. Then there’s the matter of Iraq’s enormous debts.


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