Prior to President Bush's invasion of Iraq, the U.S. public was assured that it could be nonchalant about its minimal costs.
The White House budget chief, Mitch Daniels, the person who delivered the Republican response to the president's latest State of the Union Address, estimated the war could be prosecuted for $20 billion. When Bush's senior economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, suggested it could cost $100 billion to $200 billion, he was forced to resign several months later.
Although that war has cost more than $800 billion so far, its costs are just commencing. After costs of replacing equipment and other costs and fully paying for the medical costs, such as head and spinal injuries, it will cost $4 trillion or more! By the time the Iraq War is fully paid for, its costs will exceed those of World War II after adjusting for inflation!
Thus Lindsey, who lost his job for overestimating, had actually underestimated the costs by a factor of 20. Moreover, Mitch Daniels had underestimated the cost of the war by a factor of 200! Fortunately, Daniels ignores pleas to enter the race for the Republican nomination.
Last fall, the Commission on Wartime Contracting issued a 240-page report that estimates the amount of money that has disappeared in fraud and waste in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars at $31 billion to $60 billion. That's 60 to 120 times more wasteful than Solyndra.
It is likely that if the public had any clue of the actual costs prior to these wars, it would have overwhelmingly objected to them. Not only do they fail every kind of cost-benefits analysis, but they are antithetical to "small government."
There is a reason why all the politicians and talk radio people who encourage bellicose and belligerent threats to Iran do not want to discuss the costs of a war with Iran. The public would disapprove of it -- as they would have of the Iraq war -- if they knew the costs. The public would likely only tolerate a war if they believe the costs are negligible. The public will eschew a Middle East war if they know it will be accompanied by hefty and significant tax increases.
Since the population of Iran is greater than Afghanistan's and Iraq's combined, former general Anthony Zinni stated, "If you like Iraq and Afghanistan, you're going to love Iran."
The costs involved are not the only aspect of attacking Iran that is unspecified and virtually unmentioned. The U.S. motivation for supporting an attack is also unexplored. Certainly, the U.S. does not favor targeting Iran to protect its homeland. An attack on Iran would make our homeland less secure. Rather, a major reason for attacking Iran would be to protect Israel. Actually, a major reason for Bush's invasion of Iraq was to protect Israel. When the U.S. invaded Iraq, it had no missiles that could reach this country and posed no threat to the U.S. But it did have the capacity to reach Israel. And so a cabal of very powerful people (Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, etc.), with a loyalty to Israel, made every effort to get the U.S. to attack Iraq.
Bush inundated the country with innuendos implying that Iraq was involved in Sept. 11 and he even managed to get about 69 percent of American to believe it -- although all the evidence was to the contrary.
Apparently Bush sensed that it was better to lie and concoct myths than to state the war was being pursued to enhance Israel's security or to control oil.
U.S. attitudes about Israel are shaped by money interests. Wayne Barrett notes that in 2005 Newt Gingrich proposed that Congress "establish a program of economic aid for the Palestinians to match the aid the U.S. government provides to Israel." Gingrich condemned "the desire of some Israelis to use security as an excuse to grab more Palestinian land." He said we should use our financial resources "to compel the Israeli government to behave reasonably on the issue of settlements, and that we must "insist on an end of Israeli expansionism."
Gingrich changed his tune after Sheldon Adelson gave him $15 million. With his $22 billion, Adelson boasts: "You know, I am the richest Jew in the world..." Adelson uses his money to promote an extreme anti-Palestinian agenda. So Gingrich now claims the Palestininas are an "invented people."
The media fosters one-sided view. When the great linguist, media analyst and philosopher Noam Chomsky asked an editor of the Boston Globe why the coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was so terribly one sided and pro-Israel, he responded: "How many Arab advertisers do you think we have?" (Generally, advertising revenue is an essential source of income for newspapers.)
While Israel's security is not the sole motive for the U.S. Middle East foreign policy, an honest analysis would show that money interests make it an important one.
Thus anyone proposing an attack on Iran should be required to clarify and detail the precise motive and provide a realistic estimate of the cost -- two things that were not ever done before the invasion of Iraq.
Jones lives in West Haven.