Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Mideast Money Drain

With the economy in a nosedive, the Democratic Congress is beginning to turn its anti-war focus on the dollars that are being drained by Bush's Mideast policies.

"In a shift from last year’s failed legislative efforts to force a reduction of troops," the New York Times reports, "the Democrats’ new approach is...focusing on the financial cost of military operations and on the war’s implications for the nation’s troubled economy."

This coupling comes on the heels of a new book, "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict" by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz with Linda Bilmes, which estimates that Iraq has already cost almost ten times as much as the first Gulf War, almost a third more than Vietnam and twice as much as the First World War.

Stiglitz told a British think tank this week that war spending was a hidden cause of the current credit crunch after our central bank responded to the financial drain by flooding the American economy with cheap credit.

"The regulators were looking the other way and money was being lent to anybody this side of a life-support system," he said, leading to a housing bubble and a consumption boom that has driven the economy into recession and saddled the next president with the biggest budget deficit in history.

If this argument is too complicated for politicians to make, Senate committees are beginning to hone in on the billions that have been wasted or stolen during the past five years of presumably protecting us from terrorists--an estimated $3.8 billion misspent by Musharraf in Pakistan along with billions more that have vanished in Iraq.

When voters get their stimulus checks of a few hundred dollars this summer, they may want to think about that.

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