James Pethokoukis argues that we might have spent a lot of the $1.3 trillion cost of the Iraq war on containment of Iraq had we fought the war.
I will admit I have not seen the studies, but I declare right now that there is NO WAY. If we really would have spent $150 billion a year containing Iraq in absence of a war, we should be spending similar magnitudes today on other similar regimes on which we have chosen not to declare war, like Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, etc. But demonstrably we are not. One might argue that oil prices would be lower, I guess, but one could also argue that the post-9/11 recession would not have been as deep without a war. I am sure there is a broken window fallacy in here somewhere. This reminds me nothing so much as the tortured economic studies that purport to show a gullible populace that it makes sense to build a billion dollar stadium for the hapless Arizona Cardinals because the city will make it all back in future revenues. Sure.
I am not going to argue the justifications for the Iraq war here. What I will say is that folks who have enthusiastically supported the war should understand that the war is going to have the following consequences:
- In 2009 we will have a Democratic Congress and President for the first time since 1994.
- The next President will use the deficits from the $1.3 trillion in Iraq war spending to justify a lot of new taxes
- These new taxes, once the war spending is over, will not be used for deficit reduction but for new programs that, once established, will be nearly impossible to eliminate
- No matter what the next president promises to the electorate, they are not going to reverse precedents for presidential power and secrecy that GWB has established. Politicians never give up power voluntarily. [if the next president is Hillary, she is likely to push the envelope even further]. Republicans are not going to like these things as much when someone of the other party is using them.