“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Iraq war will cost the US one trillion dollars?

In the days before the Iraq War, the Pentagon estimated that it would cost about $50 billion. Democratic staff members in Congress largely agreed. When White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey suggested six months before the war that the mission could cost $100 billion to $200 billion he was criticized by his colleagues and he "resigned".

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, prior to the invasion, testified before Congress that the Iraqi oil revenues would cover the costs.

"The oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 billion and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years," Wolfowitz said in March 2003.

The reality is the operation is costing more than $300 million a day. That translates to the little $100 billion requests for additional funding being requested by the Bush Administration. Go back in time, project into the future and the real cost will be something like $700 billion.

The IHT the real cost of the Iraq War has an editorial dealing with the costs. That is just one of the components that has the American public questioning the purpose and future of this war. It is becoming easier for politicians, Democrats and Republicans, to consider a forced stop. It will be the primary focus of the 2008 presidential election. It is affecting the tone and tenor of the race.

Hillary Clinton yesterday is looking more and more like she will be out-flanked by her own party. She is reacting very cautiously. "I think we will eventually have to move to tougher requirements on the administration to get their attention." Not exactly fighting words.

Maliki is using some fighting words but they are directed at American politicians and the Bush Administration. Maliki is complaining that the Iraqis do not have enough US supplied guns and materials. He is arresting some members of the Shiite militias. It looks as if the future of some political careers and the American efforts in the war are going to come down to what Maliki does and what he accomplishes with a lot more US money. How did this happen?


  1. We're still treating the one sore, but the body is covered with them. The cost will be the cost it takes, IF WE'RE GOING TO FIGHT.

    In the meantime, asking for more Troops is becoming popular.

  2. A trillion dollars, thats a shedload. Thats about $30 000 per each Iraqi man, woman, and child. Or $3000 per US citizen. Or $10 million to kill ONE insurgent (making the dubious assumption we can kill 100 000 of those, otherwise it is more expensive per capita).

  3. What is drop in the price of spot oil costing the GCC?

    As to the asymmetric costs of ordinance, we must learn to fire when we see the whites of their eyes and, then, fire for effect. The watchword among Marines is “fire-discipline”.

  4. We are coming to the end of the line in Iraq. The war as it's been conducted in Iraq is not sustainable neither politically, militarily, or economically. There really needs to be a complete tactical rethink and change of personnel at highest command echelons.

  5. Press conference Department of State
    State link
    Daily Press Briefing
    Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
    Washington, DC
    January 16, 2007

    QUESTION: Austrian television. I was just wondering -- we're getting media reports from Baghdad suggesting about the identities of the five Iranians the U.S. captured last week in Irbil. And one of them actually called Aziz Jafari (ph), my government, the Austrian Government, issued an international arrest warrant because he's implicated in a murder of Iranian opposition leaders in Vienna.

    Now can you identify, can you confirm the name? It's actually a report from NPR and from our Kurdish sources that he's in your custody. Do you know anything about that? And where are these five men being held?

    MR. CASEY: Well, I certainly can't -- the people who are holding these individuals, of course, are the multinational forces in Iraq. I know this has been spoken to, including by General Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad today, I believe. But I'd refer you to them in terms of any specific questions about the individuals or their identity or where they're being held. I don't have any information to share with you about that, unfortunately.

    QUESTION: But would the U.S. extradite someone, for example, if it turns out that it is this man and he is, sort of like, looked for by the European Union and the Austrian Government? Would you extradite them?

    MR. CASEY: Well, look. Certainly, we want to see that anyone who is wanted either for criminal charges or for issues involving terrorism are brought to justice. In terms of the specifics of this case, of individuals that were detained in Iraq by the multinational forces, that's one -- you know, what the legalities of that are would depend on the case. And frankly, I'll let the lawyers hash that one out. Certainly, we'd want to see anyone, though, who is wanted for serious criminal charges of any kind be brought to justice.


    QUESTION: President Chirac is considering sending a senior envoy to Iran to discuss stability issues in the Middle East. Do you think that this would be a good idea for them to send a special envoy to Iran? And have they discussed this with you?

    MR. CASEY: Well, I'm not familiar with those statements or proposals. Certainly, France has diplomatic relations with Iran, as do a number of other countries in the European Union. I think our hope would be that any diplomatic engagement, by any country with Iran, focus on reminding them and reiterating to them their need to comply with their international obligations. That includes UN Security Council resolutions on their nuclear program. That includes the obligation of all states not to support terrorism, not to support violence, whether that's in Iraq or in Lebanon or elsewhere. And certainly, any diplomatic exchanges or efforts on that subject would be things that we'd like to see happen in that context.

    QUESTION: And on a semi-related issue, Russia has said that it's going to deliver antiaircraft missile systems. Do you have any more comment on that?

    MR. CASEY: Yeah, I did look into this and this was a question Arshad originally asked me.

    QUESTION: They have delivered them.

    MR. CASEY: Yeah, and this is a sale that had been previously announced and my understanding is what has happened now is that these anti-missile systems have, in fact, been delivered to Tehran. We said, at the time that this sale was announced, and we continue to be disappointed by the fact that it has moved forward and that, in fact, these items have been delivered. We don't think that it's a appropriate signal to be sending to the government of Tehran at this time, particularly when they are under UN sanctions for trying to develop a nuclear weapon and when they continue to be in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. We also believe as well that we certainly don't want to see any kind of lethal aid or assistance given to any country that's a state sponsor of terror. And as we've said, Iran is the leading state sponsor in the world.

    QUESTION: And have you voiced your displeasure to Moscow and sent them a note about this?

    MR. CASEY: We've discussed this on a number of occasions both here in Washington and in Moscow with the Russian Government. I'm not sure what communications might have gone on today, but again, I think we'll be continuing to make our views known on this subject.

  6. Trish,

    The sad truth is that Americans are just too damn expensive to be employed as soldiers. The war will go on; outsourced the parties that provide better bang for the buck.

  7. ..outsourced ^to the parties..

  8. If you were running a company and undertook a project that came in with "less than expected results" and your cost budget estimate was off by 2000%, how would you approach your board of directors?

  9. Maliki: Dramatically fewer US troops 3-6 months

    Republicans join anti-war resolution

    Democrats:Start pulling out of Iraq

    Also, Bush and the Generals have talked about pulling out of Baghdad by Summer, and turning all Iraqi security over to the Iraqis by November.

    In their own way all the politicians seem to agree that we will be reducing our forces in Iraq fairly soon, which will cut the cost. I'm not saying that's the way I want it, just the way it seems to be going.

  10. > Either we learn to make war smarter, cheaper, leaner or we will have to live with the expense.

    > The war as it's been conducted in Iraq is not sustainable neither politically, militarily, or economically.

    That's what Bush has done, but maybe too late. (The only reason it is too late is that Bush stopped fighting the Democrats politically once he got reelected and became a lame duck.) The US Army / Petraeus counterinsurgency strategy is what we need. Instead, much of our fighting has been conventional warfare which is one reason there are so many troops in Iraq, and we haven't won yet.

  11. > The CIC, for good or ill, isn't willing to accept that. So we will not be reducing our forces on his watch.

    The CIC doesn't know how to fight it, or doesn't care enough to try. A 2/3 majority of Congress can do anything they want about the war, as they did in Vietnam, and the Democrats are moving closer to that every day. Since 2/3 can also impeach the president, disobeying the new Democratic laws wouldn't work either.

    Instead of fighting back politically, Bush's only response is to stamp his heel and say to the world, "I am the DECIDER! Obey me." Will Bush come out of denial, swallow his pride, and start fighting the Democrats? I hope so, but am not holding my breath.

  12. Trish,

    I got into an argument with Allen the other day, and it was decided that he had enough of my hyperbole and that I should stick to the facts. In response, I've asked Allen to do some facts checking and figure out what percentage of Saddam's army was destroyed in the 2003 invasion. That was a week ago, and I'm still waiting for him to report back to me with his analysis. Trish, any chance you could help him with the math.

  13. > We haven't been fighting a conventional war,

    A large portion of our forces haven't been fighting a counterinsurgency war either. For example, the stated goal from the Joint Chiefs was to turn things over the Iraqis, not protect the population. If soldiers stay in distant bases overnight, then travel to patrol and fight, that is not the counterinsurgency strategy (which is to live among the people). If moving around Iraq to kill insurgents is favored over clearing and holding ground, that is not the counterinsurgency strategy. If cleared area is not held long enough for the Iraqis to take it over and hold it, that is not the counterinsurgency strategy.

  14. Well, sure, ww, it's been a counter insurgency, just not a well run one.

    The Army burned the Insurgency handbook, about twenty years ago, deciding they were not going to fight that kind of a war, no more.

    And they did not.
    They built mega-bases and ran presense patrols. Capturing Insurgents, whom were turned over to the Iraqi, who released them.

    There have been 25,000 "detainees" since '03, never many more, nor many less. A short period of US funded R&R for each Insurgent captured, 120 days away from the Front.

    The US Military was fighting a Counter Insurgency with tactics pulled out of their collective ignorant ass. Does not make it less a counter insurgency, just a poorly fought one.

  15. Mat,

    You are right about one thing, I am not your fact checker. The percentages you seek from me are found withing the links I provided. As I thought, you have not bothered to read them - not as much fun as boorish acting out.

  16. joe buzz,

    And we have the power to beam in and out of Iraq at will.

    Beam us up Scotty! Hit the replay, restart, and pickup some extra lives and health packages in Cyber-city.

  17. > The pressing question is why havent we learned this lesson and adapted our tactics to counter.

    I think it is because we are so well trained on the other type of warfare, conventional warfare. So whenever someone brings up counterinsurgency they are told it is "hearts and minds" fighting. No, we are told, that countinsurgency is politically correct, worthless stuff. What we need is world war II fight, but more of it. If it doesn't work, just do more of it, and harder.

    Conventional fighting = WWII. Concentrated forces. Troops specialized with heavy equipment. That means they are concentrated and there aren't enough to occupy every neighborhood in the country.

    That leads to the classic two ways to win in WWII: (1) kill the enemy, which is possible because they are concentrated and move slow. (2) intimidation, which is sometimes possible because there aren't troops in every neighborhood.

    Guerrilla warfare: Iraq. Spread out. Under Saddam it was a "Baathist on every block", now is Al Qaeda and militias. Each local unit is weak compared to conventional, but their strength is that anyone who attacks the local will be overwhelmed and tortured by the central.

    Killing insurgents - Can't win the war because they are so spread out. Their reserves and even leadership is often in countries which aren't fighting in the war, so there is no way to kill them all.

    Intimidation - WWII style intimidation can't work as long as there are enemy terrorists in every neighborhood. A gun against the head is scarier than bad memories of massacres or knowing the government has more guns hundreds of miles away. Nothing is scarier than the Al Qaeda guy next door who is ready to torture and rape the whole family at the first sign of disloyalty.

    So in counterinsurgency holding ground is what matters. People want the things any government should give like security, law & order, food, and basic services like electricity.

    Propaganda is a part of it, incorrectly called hearts & minds, because people are constantly switching from guerrilla to civilian, and even switching sides. Nothing beats a gun to the head, but the citizen may have some choices on whether to help one side or the other, like by providing intelligence information. Only 1 of 5 insurgents end up needing to be killed, with the rest giving up and coming back into society.

  18. > Why would any foe fight a "conventional war" with us?

    Because there are limits to what guerrillas can do. In order to actually be the government of Afghanistan and for Hebollah to be a pseudo-government in South Lebanon, they had to build headquarters and other complicated structures. They had to be partially conventional.

    Indeed, Israel in a way was acting almost like insurgents when they bombed much of Lebanon into the stone age. That is the classic insurgent tactic of preventing the government from doing its job, providing basic services, so that the people get disgusted and won't support it.

  19. In the Six Day War, Israel lost 10 planes to 451 for the enemy. Was the Six Day War a real war?

  20. No, not really, allen.
    It was another Battle, pawned off as an entire War.
    The War started with the establishment of Israel and will end when one side or the other is defeated, whipped on, decimated into declaring Unconditional Peace.

    A Hundred Years War or just another normal length Crusader Occupation or the beginning of the "End Times"

  21. What a crock, ww.
    Experience in Salvador proves that your 1 in 5 argument is feckless.

    The MS-13 is an example of the legecy of those that were not dealt with. Our proxies. The combatants that are not thoughly defeated donot reenter Society, they remain true to their calling, armed violence.

    With over 5,000 MS-13 operatives, in the US, known and named in ICE data bases.

    This is just the result in a small, Central American, country, one within walking distance of the US. But the song remains the same, no matter the locale. Zebras do not change their stripes, nor leopards their dots.

  22. Mark Levin is unhappy. Has Mr. Bush a friend left in the world?

    What Is the WHite House Thinking?


  23. > your 1 in 5 argument is feckless

    It depends on the definition of "insurgent". There is a whole range of ways citizens can help the insurgency, ranging from being a professional soldier Jihadist who moves from county to country, to locals who are willing to fight hard for the insurgency in their country, to those who might plant an IED once in awhile, to those who give intelligence information to the insurgency, to those who simply refuse to give intelligence information to the government.

    The other point I forgot to make about conventional vs. counterinsurgency is that modern conventional is based on rather short wars, while counterinsurgency takes a decade or two.

    Since an insurgency is so "light", it is impossible to totally wipe it out quickly. When I say 1 in 5 I am talking about cases where the insurgency is beaten. There are other cases where the insurgency goes further underground.

    Afghanistan is an example. Talibanism was mostly wiped out of the country, but not destroyed. Some Taliban just went under cover. Others went to Pakistan.

    In fact it is inaccurate to even talk like there is an exact number of Taliban or any insurgency, since civilians are guerrillas and vv., and because most insurgency soldiers require so little skill & training. It is too easy for new Taliban to be "born".

  24. re: counter insurgency

    How does the elected Iraqi government fight an insurgency with itself? Sounds more like the Mafia families going to the mattresses.

    How soon we forget. For decades the Federal government vehemently denied the very existence of the Cosa Nostra.

  25. Something Wicked This Way Comes?

    Turkey & Iran Mobilizing Troops at Iraqi Border

    Well, such united the French in 1792.

  26. The PPK, our homegrown Kurdish terrorists. Will the turning of a blind eye finally come to bite US.

    Fighting acknowledged Terrorists, those foreign troops will be.
    Who can argue against the truth of that? With NATO Allies in the vanguard, the hammer to the Iran's anvil. Shades of southern Somalia, Ethiopia & Kenya.

    All hail another Victory in the War on Terror.

  27. > How does the elected Iraqi government fight an insurgency with itself?

    Pretty much everyone including Kagan punted this down the road by making it the second phase of the plan. Once phase I is completed (Sunni & Mixed Baghdad neighborhoods cleared), then it will be decision time. The Shiite Militias are building arms for a final battle for control. Will the US leave quickly? Will the Shiites mostly put Army uniforms on and join the system, or will there be a big battle? No one knows.

    I still wonder what the Sunni Insurgency will do. Al Qaeda is car bombing now, but will the Iraqi Sunnis lay low during Phase I like al-Sadr seems to be doing? If so, then Phase I could be a cake walk, with a massive reduction in violence. The Democrats would really be eating crow, as well as watching their poll ratings tank.

  28. Withdraw suddenly and spark a brutal 5 way punchup between Turkey, the Kurds, Iran, Saudia Arabia and Al Quaida.

    How can the west lose?

    Bring popcorn.

  29. Allen,

    You were well aware that was asking about men killed, not airplanes. And the correct answer is that no one knows the answer. The statistic is not available, not even to Trish. That's why she too is silent with her answer.

  30. It's also becoming more and more clear that the Iraqi government might throw us out, or at least move us to the sidelines. The UN resolution runs out at the end of this year too.

    So it sounds like we need a Plan Z, what to do in that case. Agree to leave? Switch to Special Ops fighting? On our way out, take our best shot at destroying al-Sadr & Anbar? The thing is that other sharks will eat the wounded sharks, so if we can massively degrade al-Sadr and Al Qaeda, they could get finished off by Shiite militias.

  31. One other possibility is a base in Kurdistan. They'd really like to have us.

  32. It looks as if the future of some political careers and the American efforts in the war are going to come down to what Maliki does and what he accomplishes with a lot more US money. How did this happen?

    Early on the strategery was "As Iraq stands up, we'll stand down". The government that has stood up is, big shock here, dyfunctional.

    so what to do? In my opinion we should abandon the original underlying strategy and move to "Iraq the colony". Let the newbie Iraqi politicians shit on each others shoes as long as they stay the f word out of our way.

    an easy way to begin this change is to address DR's basic concern: catch and release. If we apprehend a suspect, we keep him. We ignore the efforts of corrupt Iraqis to spring cousin achmed from durance vile.

    if Maliki choses to make this an international issue, he loses the support of the few of us left who think he's got a chance.

    We go from that to changing our interaction with the government concerning military operations. We don't consult, we may not even advise, we simply do.

    If we do those things we extricate ourselves from the vise our gracious host described so aptly in the quote above.

  33. Kurdistan should have been the first, not the last, option. We should have been talking about the break up of Iran right now, not the break down in Iraq, or my good manners. Instead, the oil man got suckered into the Iranian trap with ahmad'in'jihad riding high on his footstools.

  34. Mat,

    You made an offensive and erroneous statement concerning a war fought by the United States. Courteously, I attempted to correct you with the best facts available to hand. What percentages of killed and wounded have to do with defining war is a mystery to me, just as the number of Israel aircraft lost in the Six Day War. Since this is meaningful data to you, digest the links already provided by me. Knock yourself out.

    I do not know Trish well enough to guess why she has gone "silent". Trish may have a life; maybe she is taking a shit.

    For the record, hundreds of American troops were killed and wounded during the 21 days of combat comprising the war. Jack, that is an absolute, incontestable fact. Fuck off!

  35. Allen,

    That statistic has everything to do with the kind of war that is being fought by the Jihadis. This enemy rarely uses tanks and jet fighters, it uses men that ride on donkeys, beat up Peugeots, and Toyota pickup trucks. When the statistic I talk about becomes available, you will win the heart and mind of the Jihadis.

  36. The commanding officers of the Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar divisions held the utmost contempt for the exulted warlord Saddam Hussein. Instead of mounting the planned defense of Baghdad, Hussein insisted on the organizing of a 1,000 vehicle armored relief column. Needless to say, the convoy was utterly destroyed in detail. I have no idea what percent of Saddam’s organized forces these vehicles and troops represented. I can say that the convoy and they remain dead and Baghdad fell.

    Speaking for the Marine Corps, thousands of Iraqi army regulars and auxiliaries were killed and wounded during the 21 days of the war. What percent of Saddam’s organized forces these troops represented is unknown. They do, however, remain stone cold dead and Iraq fell.

  37. Knowing how many Iraqi fighting men were there to greet and secure the airport for the US invasion, I have a hard time believing that any one of those thousand vehicles was actually manned.

  38. Sunni Insurgents Want Truce

    Sounds like the Sunnis want a truce, at least according to that article.

    But Gaood said insurgents were ready to offer Washington a "truce", scaling down military operations against U.S. troops if they cracked down on Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias.

    "The resistance is ready to reduce their attacks against the Americans in return for ending their logistical support to the militias behind death squads and the ethnic cleansing," Gaood said...

    Mainstream insurgents now believe Iran is a bigger threat to Iraq's sovereignty and the future of Arabs than a U.S. presence in Iraq that was approaching its end, Gaood said.

    "Our focus now is on Iran's occupation of Iraq. The American occupation never drilled eyes or hanged people on lampposts but Safavid Iran has deep seated hatreds against Arabs," he said.

  39. These guys (Bush, Rice, and Olmert) are the smartest people in the world, or…
    Israeli official: Gov't to transfer $100 million to Abbas by Friday

    Mr. Carter is on line “one”.
    Carter: Palestinian rockets not terrorism

    Meanwhile, back in Gaza:
    “Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said, ‘Hamas will never show flexibility over the issue of recognising the legitimacy of the occupation (Israel)’”
    A New Chance for Peace?
    “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said, ‘We should put our internal fighting aside and raise our rifles only against the Israeli occupation…’”
    Link to Abbas

    Paging! Paging!
    Five Months Later, Where Are the Kidnapped Israeli Soldiers?

  40. Fitzgeralds' idea of divide and conquer seems to be coming true. This article talks about how some Sunnis in Lebanon have turned against (Shiite) Hezbollah. This village is actually next to the Shebba Farms which Hezbollah supposedly was fighting over.

    I have seen the same thing in other articles, Sunnis turning against the Iranian - Shiite family of terrorist groups like Hezbollah and al-Sadr's militia. In fact there was some interest from Sunnis in al-Sadr's movement years ago, but now that he is slaughtering Sunnis by the dozen, that's history.

    The best way to fight a guerrilla like Hezbollah is to have another group in the country, like the Sunnis who are now turning against it.

  41. Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
    Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

    It's how you play the dice.