You know, I’m sure that there’s going to be carping about President Bush requesting $87B from Congress for Iraq.
This is, however, an outcome of what happens when you invade a country and take it over.
The American people just aren’t used to this. The last time that an American flag truly flew over another country’s soil was in Germany nearly sixty years ago.
I see no one trying to figure out the costs of the German Occupation, Berlin Airlift, etc. and trying to compare that to Iraq.
Now, I’m aware that my comparison might seem a bit ludicrous, considering that the German occupation [and, lest we forget, the Japanese occupation] occurred at the end of World War II, where you certainly had a ton more countries involved in the whole schpiel. But I think that my point stands: the war in Iraq was completely separate from the conflicts that preceded it:
- Balkans: Multi-national force in peacekeeping role; would-be nation-states exercised varying amounts of autonomy and authority at varying times.
- Somalia: Interdiction of warlords; once nose bloodied, U.S. largely withdrew.
- Gulf War: Iraq ejected from Kuwait, march on Baghdad stopped by Bush pere.
- Grenada: Quick strike to remove leadership.
- Viet Nam: Interdiction of spread of communist power; U.S. withdrew without bombing North into submission and rebuilding country in own image.
- Korea: Status quo ante largely restored along 38th parallel; UN involved.
It hasn’t been this way since Germany and Japan.
Those efforts cost had to cost unbelievably large sums, but the thing to note is that each of those two countries was relatively more economically advanced than Iraq is now, comparing each nation to its peers. Germany and Japan had sizeable military-industrial complexes fueling their war-machine, and while those facilities were largely bombed, you had a ready and willing workforce who understood their place in society and had marketable skills.
Iraq had an army, a secret police, and a scratch-out-life economy.
Of course it’s going to cost lots of money.
Now, Bush is right in asking the rest of the world for help: economically, it’s to everyone’s advantage to have a stable government in Iraq. It’s got a large part of the Fertile Crescent, if you remember that from Western Civ, within it borders. It’s got a sizeable supply of oil.
The rest of the world could indeed be right to tell Bush to go piss up a rope. They didn’t ask for this war per se, but America seemed to do so. In effect, the US has been asking for this war for the better part of the last half-decade; remember, the push for regime change started when Clinton was in office. Would Clinton have ever started this kind of war? Most assuredly not–he would have gone to the Johnson and Kennedy school of piecemeal approaches, rather than the Roosevelt and Truman school of achieving victory at any reasonable cost.
Bush fils is just cleaning up his father’s mess. This is a war that the United States was far more prepared to fight in 1991 than in 2003. You had a larger force structure at the ready and far less decay in Baghdad than the present. If you intervene 12 years ago, I imagine that Iraq is a fully-functioning country at the time, whether truly democratic or at least mouthing those terms, with a working economy.
Instead, we’ve got a mess, and we need one hell of a mop.