Charlie Stross asks the best question I’ve seen in a long while:
The direct cost to the US government of the war and occupation of Iraq — counting only funds appropriated by Congress — so far runs to roughly $523Bn.
However, that’s the direct cost — money directly spent on the project. There are indirect costs, too: Joseph Stiglitz estimates the true cost of the war to be $3Tn to the United States, and $3Tn to the rest of the global economy. These are indirect costs, and factor in the long-term additional expenses that the war has accrued — everything from caring for brain-damaged soldiers for the next 50 years through to loss of economic productivity attributable to instabilities in the supply of oil from Iraq.
We can tap-dance around the indirect costs, but the direct costs (that headline figure of $523Bn) are inarguable.
So. What fun boondoggles could we have bought with either $523Bn (at the low end) or $6Tn (at the high end)?
Charlie does the math and works out that the money pissed away on The War For Oil could have paid for over 500 colonists to set up on Mars, or enough nuclear power stations to provide a quarter of the worlds electricity needs. Then asks for other suggestions.
Well… what would you do
EDIT 30 May: It’s notable just how quickly the thread replies were jumped on by wingnut neocon apologists trying to say that when Iraq 2 is ‘a success’ there’ll be loads of profit and benefit. Yeah, sure, if you’re a major shareholder in Halliburton or Blackwater…