On September 11, 2001, the United States was hit by devastating terrorist attacks perpetrated by a transnational terrorist network. Less than a year later, it was apparent that the Bush administration wanted to invade Iraq, allegedly as part of the response. Famously, selling this agenda involved a highly deceptive effort to link the two issues. Iraq was said to have an advanced nuclear weapons program and to be likely to provide the fruits of its research to al-Qaeda.
All this we know. Less well remembered nowadays, though -- in fact, almost never discussed in the major media -- was another implicit prong of the argument: that invading Iraq would be cheap and easy, leaving plenty of resources for other purposes. When White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey stumbled off message in September 2002 with his prediction that war could cost $100 billion to $200 billion, the administration flew into crisis mode. Budget Director Mitch Daniels was trotted out to label the estimate "very, very high." Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz opined -- in testimony to Congress, no less -- that reconstruction would cost virtually nothing in light of Iraq's promising oil revenues. Daniels proffered an estimate in the $50 billion to $60 billion range, substantially less than the $80 billion inflation-adjusted cost of the Persian Gulf War. Lindsey, famously, was soon after fired -- for his troublesome cost estimates and, reportedly, the President's annoyance at his poor personal fitness habits.
By April 2006, a Congressional Research Service (CRS) inquiry concluded that Lindsey's estimate was, indeed, way off -- but in the other direction. Around $261 billion had already been spent. Given the human stakes, it may seem crass to worry overly much about the dollar cost of a military conflict. But the fact that a CRS report is needed at all, as opposed to the straightforward accounting that either the White House or the Pentagon could surely provide were they so inclined, points to the basic reality that the war's proponents are continuing the prewar pattern of covering up the costs. And with good reason: They're enormous. Scandalously enormous.
More at:AlterNet: Iraq: A Shocking Waste of Money