Sour Grapes
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Guns and butter

In this same issue of Secrecy News, Steven Aftergood resurrects an 23 April 2003 Bush Administration price tag for the War on Iraq of $1.7 billion.

"You're not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?" asked an incredulous Ted Koppel in a 2003 ABC News Nightline interview with Andrew Natsios, then-administrator of the Agency for International Development (AID).

"Well, in terms of the American taxpayers' contribution, I do, this is it for the US," Mr. Natsios replied.

"The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges, Britain, Germany, Norway, Japan, Canada, and Iraqi oil revenues, eventually in several years, when it's up and running and there's a new government that's been democratically elected, will finish the job with their own revenues. They're going to get in $20 billion a year in oil revenues. But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this."

The transcript of this April 23, 2003 Nightline interview was quietly removed from the AID web site last year (as reported by the Washington Post on 12/18/03). But a copy is preserved here (thanks to BY).

The [relatively] good news is that as of this writing, the total estimated cost of the war remains less than 100 times that $1.7 billion figure. The bad news is that even by the Office of Management and Budget's own estimate, the actual cost will soon exceed 100 times $1.7 billion.

Mr Bush still seems to believe we can get away without paying for this war and make his ill-advised tax cuts permanent.

Besides the example quoted at the beginning of Mr Aftergood's piece, which I did not know about, I am reminded of President Lyndon Johnson's unwillingness to trade butter for guns — or at least his unwillingness to admit that that's what the U.S. was doing — during the era of the War on Vietnam.

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