FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Paying the Piper

 

It’s appropriate that on this week of the fifth anniversary of the criminal US invasion of Iraq, we are also seeing several other things: the death toll of American troops in that doomed adventure is rising past 4000, the economy is sliding into a recession which could be deep and long, and the financial markets are teetering on the edge of a possibly historic collapse.

The conjunction of all of these dire things is no coincidence.

The war on Iraq was a predictable disaster from day one, when the administration tried to do it on the cheap, using less than half the manpower that Bush’s own generals said would be needed to control the country after the inevitable collapse of its government and military. But of course the US had to conduct this war on the cheap because the country was never really behind the war in the first place. It was a war that was “marketed” to us like a risky financial investment or a badly designed new car. The idea was to close the sale and get away from the deal as quickly as possible, leaving no office forwarding address.

The problem was that Iraqis, the victims of our attack, didn’t cooperate. They didn’t lie down and play dead. They decided to resist our effort to take over their country and run it like a retail gas station. So now the US has wasted over $500 billion in a country trying–and failing–to gain control over a country no bigger than a mid-sized state, battling against resistance forces armed with homemade bombs, obsolete grenade launchers and Vietnam-era AK-47 rifles.

But because the Bush/Cheney administration could never admit to Americans what this war would be costing, and has cost, all that money has been borrowed. As for the deaths and the tens of thousands of injuries, the government has hidden these, flying in the casualties in the dead of night and burying them quickly and as quietly as possible, while sticking the wounded in closed off VA hospitals and rehab centers, from which the press, for the most part, are barred (if they even bother to try and do a story).

That need to hide the truth means that the real cost of the war is running into the trillions of dollars, because of the interest on the debt, and because of the the future costs of providing for all those who are injured.

The war in Iraq has helped to bankrupt this country, which, to be honest, is the state we’re in when the US, year in and year out, is buying more than it is selling, leaving creditor nations like China, Japan and Saudi Arabia owning trillions of dollars in debt that cannot be repaid. It has also distorted the economy. By pushing up the price of oil to record levels of above $100/barrel, a result of uncertainty about supplies, plus the virtual removal of Iraq, the world’s second or third-largest oil-producing region, from the market, not to mention the jeopardizing of the entire oil supply through the Persian Gulf, which accounts for over 20 percent of the world’s oil, the Iraq War has thrown the US economy into a slump, while at the same time pushing up inflation.

In order to keep things going in the face of all this, the administration and the Federal Reserve for years have kept mortgage rates low and encouraged homeowners to borrow on their home equity in order to keep spending, and thus the whole system, afloat. That gambit has now run its course, with the housing bubble finally bursting.

It would seem that there is little left to keep the economy going.
The housing crisis has left the nation’s banks and investment banks holding trillions of dollars in assets that are actually worth only a fraction of their face value. So rickety is the system that over the weekend, as the Federal Reserve worked frantically to prevent the collapse of Bear Stearns, the nation’s fifth-largest investment bank, there was real fear of a total collapse of the finance system, ala 1929. Such a thing could still happen, when the next bank or investment bank comes a cropper.

Consumers, for their part, are spent out.

And the war continues apace, the bodies, and the bills, piling up.

President Bush is saying it was all worth it. Cheney, touring the Middle East while trying to drum up support for what would be a catastrophic and even more criminal attack on Iran, is saying that the “progress” in Iraq has been “phenomenal.” And John McCain, the addled, past-his-sell-date Republican candidate for president, is committed to continuing this madness for another century, even if he cannot remember who the US is fighting over there (he confused the so-called “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” group–all Sunni–with the Shia militias and had to be corrected by his travel buddy, Sen. Joe Lieberman).

It’s a somber anniversary. Five years of a war that never should have happened. A country destroyed. America on the ropes economically. A million Iraqi civilians dead. 4000 American soldiers killed and another 20,000 maimed.

At some point, the American people will finally say they’ve had enough of this madness, manipulation and malfeasance.

The question is what will be left of this place when they finally put a stop to it and bring the troops home to a jobless economy.

The hucksters and flim-flam men who produced this mess have had their fun and are preparing to run off with their winnings. We should really organize a pitchforks and torches march on the White House and Congress and run them out of town on rails, tarred and feathered, while we can. They’ll be hard to track down once people realize how we’ve all been had.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is “The Case for Impeachment“, co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail