Politics, The Economy

Calpundit calculates that the total budget for Iraq reconstruction will be $221 billion. Here is what he says:

Let’s take the hawks at their word that Iraq is a front on the war against terror, and that stabilizing Iraq is a key part of winning the war. You might not believe it, but that’s their case.

But if it’s true, then surely stabilizing Afghanistan is at least as important? In fact, given the large amount of known al-Qaeda activity in Afghanistan and the continuing Taliban presence there, you could make a pretty good argument that keeping a lid on Afghanistan is more important than Iraq.

But in any case, surely it&#8217;s not a mere one-tenth as important , as the administration seems to think based on its troop commitments and reconstruction funding there? Especially given the continuing reports that <a href="" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'outbound-article', '', 'this is the place where the terrorists are regrouping, not Iraq']);" >this is the place where the terrorists are regrouping, not Iraq</a>.  </blockquote> 

  Note that these figures are based on the <a href="" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'outbound-article', '', 'Bush administration&#8217;s own high-end estimates']);" >Bush administration&#8217;s own high-end estimates</a>, which have a <a href="" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'outbound-article', '', 'history of being notoriously low']);" >history of being notoriously low</a> (via <a href="" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'outbound-article', '', 'Body and Soul']);" >Body and Soul</a>)! But that&#8217;s not the real issue, as <a href="" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'outbound-article', '', 'Body and Soul']);" >Body and Soul</a> points out, 78% of this money is going to the military. From the <a href=";position=" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'outbound-article', '', 'NY Times article']);" >NY Times article</a>:

    President Bush&#8217;s $87 billion request for postwar costs is heavily weighted to maintaining military operations, with $65.5 billion directed to the armed forces, $15 billion toward rebuilding Iraq and $5 billion toward building its security forces, and $800 million to new spending for civilian programs in Afghanistan, administration officials said today.

  The article reveals just how far off Bush & Co.&#8217;s accounting can be:

    Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told a House subcommittee in March that Iraq could generate $50 billion to $100 billion of oil revenue over the next two to three years. &#8220;We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon,&#8221; Mr. Wolfowitz said at the time. 
      &#8230; &#8220;It is fair to say that the level of decay and underinvestment in the Iraqi infrastructure was worse than almost anyone on the outside anticipated,&#8221; a senior administration official said today.
      Administration officials said they now expect Iraqi oil revenues to increase from zero this year to $12.1 billion next year and $20 billion a year in 2005 and 2006.

  But to get back to the difference in spending between Afghanistan and Iraq, could it be because there is no oil in Afghanistan?

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