The Iraq War Will Cost Us $3 Trillion, and Much More
By Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz
Sunday, March 9, 2008; Page B01
There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no such thing as a free war. The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes now go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can't spend $3 trillion -- yes, $3 trillion -- on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.
Some people will scoff at that number, but we've done the math. Senior Bush administration aides certainly pooh-poohed worrisome estimates in the run-up to the war. Former White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey reckoned that the conflict would cost $100 billion to $200 billion; Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld later called his estimate "baloney." Administration officials insisted that the costs would be more like $50 billion to $60 billion. In April 2003, Andrew S. Natsios, the thoughtful head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said on "Nightline" that reconstructing Iraq would cost the American taxpayer just $1.7 billion. Ted Koppel, in disbelief, pressed Natsios on the question, but Natsios stuck to his guns. Others in the administration, such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, hoped that U.S. partners would chip in, as they had in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, or that Iraq's oil would pay for the damages.
The end result of all this wishful thinking? As we approach the fifth anniversary of the invasion, Iraq is not only the second longest war in U.S. history (after Vietnam), it is also the second most costly -- surpassed only by World War II.
Why doesn't the public understand the staggering scale of our expenditures? In part because the administration talks only about the upfront costs, which are mostly handled by emergency appropriations. (Iraq funding is apparently still an emergency five years after the war began.) These costs, by our calculations, are now running at $12 billion a month -- $16 billion if you include Afghanistan. By the time you add in the costs hidden in the defense budget, the money we'll have to spend to help future veterans, and money to refurbish a military whose equipment and materiel have been greatly depleted, the total tab to the federal government will almost surely exceed $1.5 trillion.
But the costs to our society and economy are far greater. When a young soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, his or her family will receive a U.S. government check for just $500,000 (combining life insurance with a "death gratuity") -- far less than the typical amount paid by insurance companies for the death of a young person in a car accident. The stark "budgetary cost" of $500,000 is clearly only a fraction of the total cost society pays for the loss of life -- and no one can ever really compensate the families. Moreover, disability pay seldom provides adequate compensation for wounded troops or their families. Indeed, in one out of five cases of seriously injured soldiers, someone in their family has to give up a job to take care of them.
But beyond this is the cost to the already sputtering U.S. economy. All told, the bill for the Iraq war is likely to top $3 trillion. And that's a conservative estimate.
President Bush tried to sell the American people on the idea that we could have a war with little or no economic sacrifice. Even after the United States went to war, Bush and Congress cut taxes, especially on the rich -- even though the United States already had a massive deficit. So the war had to be funded by more borrowing. By the end of the Bush administration, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus the cumulative interest on the increased borrowing used to fund them, will have added about $1 trillion to the national debt.
The long-term burden of paying for the conflicts will curtail the country's ability to tackle other urgent problems, no matter who wins the presidency in November. Our vast and growing indebtedness inevitably makes it harder to afford new health-care plans, make large-scale repairs to crumbling roads and bridges, or build better-equipped schools. Already, the escalating cost of the wars has crowded out spending on virtually all other discretionary federal programs, including the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and federal aid to states and cities, all of which have been scaled back significantly since the invasion of Iraq.
To make matters worse, the U.S. economy is facing a recession. But our ability to implement a truly effective economic-stimulus package is crimped by expenditures of close to $200 billion on the two wars this year alone and by a skyrocketing national debt.
The United States is a rich and strong country, but even rich and strong countries squander trillions of dollars at their peril. Think what a difference $3 trillion could make for so many of the United States' -- or the world's -- problems. We could have had a Marshall Plan to help desperately poor countries, winning the hearts and maybe the minds of Muslim nations now gripped by anti-Americanism. In a world with millions of illiterate children, we could have achieved literacy for all -- for less than the price of a month's combat in Iraq. We worry about China's growing influence in Africa, but the upfront cost of a month of fighting in Iraq would pay for more than doubling our annual current aid spending on Africa.
Closer to home, we could have funded countless schools to give children locked in the underclass a shot at decent lives. Or we could have tackled the massive problem of Social Security, which Bush began his second term hoping to address; for far, far less than the cost of the war, we could have ensured the solvency of Social Security for the next half a century or more.
Economists used to think that wars were good for the economy, a notion born out of memories of how the massive spending of World War II helped bring the United States and the world out of the Great Depression. But we now know far better ways to stimulate an economy -- ways that quickly improve citizens' well-being and lay the foundations for future growth. But money spent paying Nepalese workers in Iraq (or even Iraqi ones) doesn't stimulate the U.S. economy the way that money spent at home would -- and it certainly doesn't provide the basis for long-term growth the way investments in research, education or infrastructure would.
ジョン・ボルトン前国連大使（ブッシュ）John・Boltonは、保守の対北朝鮮強硬派だ。大島大使とのコンビは素晴らしいものだった。さきほど、ボルトンは、“オバマのTALKという融和政策は危険だ”と警告を出した。この人と、ジョン・マケイン上院議員は日本人の味方なのだ。＊予断だが、０７年の夏、ボルトンさんから、メールを頂いたことがある。伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナNKorean test is moment of truth for Obama: Bolton
WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama, who has been reaching out to anti-American regimes, faces "a moment of truth" with North Korea's nuclear test, former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton said Monday.
Bolton, who was an outspoken hardliner under George W. Bush, also warned that the claimed test is a bad omen in the Middle East "given the cooperation" between North Korea and Iran on ballistic missiles.
The North Koreans "were looking for an excuse for another test because their first test in 2006 fizzled," Bolton said on Fox News.
"The Obama administration gave them that opportunity. The special envoy, Stephen Bosworth said about two weeks ago he didn't feel any sense of crisis and hoped to get back to the six-party talks," he added.
Under a six-party deal with the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia in 2007, North Korea agreed to scrap its weapons-grade nuclear programs for energy aid.
"Another official said we'd be back to the talks within nine months. I think the North Koreans read it as a signal that they could get away with it. I think we are at a moment of real testing for the Obama administration," Bolton said.
The incident is "a real moment of truth for the Obama administration," he added.
"I think, at a minimum, the US should put North Korea on the list of state sponsors of terrorism," he said.
The Bush administration drew fire from hardliners when it removed North Korea last year from the US blacklist after North Korea verbally agreed to verifying denuclearization that it never confirmed in writing.
Bolton also called for a UN Security Council resolution that "imposes sanctions on their weapons programs and complete economic sanctions like the ones we had the council impose on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1991."
He also said that, as what he calls a "persistent violator" of UN resolutions, it should be expelled under article six of the UN charter.
Bolton added that such a push within the UN would also be a "moment of truth" for China, a permanent council member which has resisted tougher action but which also says it wants to stop North Korea from acquiring atomic weapons.
Bolton also said the test has implications for the Middle East, where the United States suspects Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon with its uranium enrichment program.
"Given the cooperation between North Korea and Iran, there is reason to fear that North Korea and Iran may be sharing data on nuclear matters as they do on ballistic missiles," he said.
"This is a threat not just in northeast Asia, but potentially in the Middle East as well," he added.
「イスラエルの死」と題した記事だ。日本VS北朝鮮の構図に似ている。この記事は、イエルサレム・ポスト紙のキャロライン・グリック女史が書いたものだ。宥和主義者のオバマでは、イランに核を放棄させることは出来ないと書いている。イスラエルは、オバマに失望したと言うことだ。（NEWS MAXから引用した）。伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナ
The Death of Israel
Sunday, May 24, 2009
By: Dick Morris & Eileen McGann
From Caroline Glick, deputy editor and op-ed writer for the Jerusalem Post, comes alarming news. An expert on Arab-Israeli relations with excellent sources deep inside Netanyahu's government, she reports that CIA chief Leon Panetta recently took time out from his day job (feuding with Nancy Pelosi) to travel to Israel to "read the riot act" to the government warning against an attack on Iran.
More ominously, Glick reports (likely from sources high up in the Israeli government) that the Obama administration has all but accepted as irreversible and unavoidable fact that Iran will soon develop nuclear weapons. She writes, "...we have learned that the [Obama] administration has made its peace with Iran's nuclear aspirations. Senior administration officials acknowledge as much in off-record briefings. It is true, they say, that Iran may exploit its future talks with the US to run down the clock before they test a nuclear weapon. But, they add, if that happens, the U.S. will simply have to live with a nuclear-armed mullocracy."
She goes on to write that the Obama administration is desperate to stop Israel from attacking Iran writing that "as far as the [Obama] administration is concerned, if Israel could just leave Iran's nuclear installations alone, Iran would behave itself." She notes that American officials would regard any harm to American interests that flowed from an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities as Israel's doing, not Iran's.
In classic Stockholm Syndrome fashion, the Obama administration is empathizing more with the Iranian leaders who are holding Israel hostage than with the nation that may be wiped off the map if Iran acquires the bomb.
Obama's end-of-the-year deadline for Iranian talks aimed at stopping its progress toward nuclear weapons is just window dressing without the threat of military action. As Metternich wrote, "diplomacy without force is like music without instruments." By warning only of possible strengthening of economic sanctions if the talks do not progress, Obama is making an empty threat. The sanctions will likely have no effect because Russia and China will not let the United Nations act as it must if it is to deter Iranian nuclear weapons.
All this means is that Israel's life is in danger. If Iran gets the bomb, it will use it to kill six million Jews. No threat of retaliation will make the slightest difference. One cannot deter a suicide bomber with the threat of death. Nor can one deter a theocracy bent on meriting admission to heaven and its virgins by one glorious act of violence. Iran would probably not launch the bomb itself, anyway, but would give it to its puppet terrorists to send to Israel so it could deny responsibility. Obama, bent on appeasement, would likely not retaliate with nuclear weapons. And Israel will be dead and gone.
Those sunshine Jewish patriots who voted for Obama must realize that we, as Jews, are witnessing the possible end of Israel. We are in the same moral position as our ancestors were as they watched Hitler’s rise but did nothing to pressure their favorite liberal Democratic president, FDR, to take any real action to save them or even to let Jewish refugees into the country. If we remain complacent, we will have the same anguish at watching the destruction of Israel that our forebears had in witnessing the Holocaust.
Because one thing is increasingly clear: Barack Obama is not about to lift a finger to stop Iran from developing the bomb. And neither is Hillary Clinton.
Obama may have held the first White House seder, but he's not planning to spend next year in Jerusalem.
WPの記事だ。ホンダ・モータースは、一歩先に「インサイト」を売り出し、2万台が売れている。インサイトはプリウスよりも小型で、値段も２０万円ほど安い。プリウスは２１０万円ぐらいで、インサイトは１９０万円ぐらいだ。ぼくが嬉しいのには理由がある。トヨタ・ケンタッキー工場の建設工事監督だったこともあるが、１９９７年の試作車時代から、ハイブリッド車を応援して来たからだ。アメリカに展開する日系自動車業界は、一斉に北米市場を占めていくだろう。ガソリンの高騰（１４７ドル・バレル・２００７年夏）を忘れる消費者はいないからだ。伊勢平次郎Toyota rolls out new Prius amid hybrid price war
Toyota Motor Corp. Executive Vice President Akio Toyoda speaks during a news conference at Toyota showroom in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, May 18, 2009. Toyota rolled out the revamped Prius on Monday, and said it already had 80,000 advance orders in Japan for the remodeled hybrid amid intensifying competition with Honda's rival offering, the Insight. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi) (Shizuo Kambayashi - AP)
The Associated Press
Monday, May 18, 2009; 6:46 AM
TOKYO -- Toyota rolled out the revamped Prius on Monday, and said it already had 80,000 advance orders in Japan for the remodeled hybrid amid intensifying competition with Honda's rival offering, the Insight.
The world's largest automaker said it aims to sell up to 400,000 units globally a year of the car.
"We are resting the future of cars in this model," said incoming president Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the company's founder, who drove the new model onto a stage at a packed Tokyo showroom.
Both Toyoda's presence and the new Prius are symbolic of Toyota Motor Corp.'s pursuit of a turnaround from its worst annual loss since its 1937 founding.
The Prius, now in its third generation since its 1997 introduction, is the best-selling gas-electric hybrid in the world, racking up a cumulative 1.256 million units sold in more than 40 nations and regions. The new Prius will be sold in 80 nations and regions, Toyoda said.
But now Toyota faces a challenge from Honda Motor Co., whose more cheaply priced Insight has sold briskly since it was introduced in Japan in February. In April, the Insight ranked as the top-selling vehicle in Japan _ the first time a hybrid clinched that spot.
Toyota said its Japan prices for the Prius would start at 2.05 million yen, or about $21,600, less than its predecessor model's Japan base price.
But in an unusual move aimed at competing against the Insight, Toyota also said it will continue to sell the current Prius in Japan _ mainly to corporate and rental customers _ and cut its price to 1.89 million yen, the same price as the Insight.
In Japan, Toyota is hoping to sell 10,000 of the new Prius a month, and an additional 2,000 of the cheaper old-style Prius.
The Japanese government is offering incentives to encourage people to buy green cars, which is expected to help the Insight and Prius sales here.
Christopher J. Richter, senior analyst with Calyon Capital Markets Asia in Tokyo, said Toyota may be making a mistake by competing with Insight's price because the Prius is a much bigger car than the Insight compact and gets better mileage.
"Given that the two vehicles are different animals, I think that probably isn't the way to go," he said. "It probably damages the Prius brand image by trying to chase after what is an inferior car in price."
Richter also noted that Toyota faces some challenges in selling the Prius not only because of the competition from the Insight but because of the global slowdown and a decline in oil prices.
Ravaged by a global slump, tight credit in the critical U.S. market and the strong yen, Toyota racked up a larger-than-expected 436.94 billion yen ($4.4 billion) loss for the fiscal year ended March 31, a dramatic reversal from the record profit of 1.72 trillion yen it earned the previous year.
Toyota had already given the U.S. prices for the 2010 Prius _ starting at $22,000, unchanged from the base price for the 2009 model. It is also promising a more basic U.S. model as well for later this year starting at $21,000.
The Insight, which is smaller than the Prius, carries a lower manufacturer's suggested retail price of $19,800 for the base model in the U.S.
Honda has sold 19,492 Insights in Japan since it went on sale in February, and 2,665 in the U.S. since March.
"We've come up with a price that we think is close to what will make people happy," Toyoda said.
Toyoda, 53, was tapped in January to take the helm at the world's biggest automaker, the first time in 14 years it has turned to the charisma of its founding roots for top leadership _ mainly to bring employees and affiliates together and steer the automaker through deep troubles.
The new Prius gets a combined 50 miles per gallon, compared with 46 mpg for the 2009 model, according to Toyota.
It does even better under Japanese government testing standards. Hybrids, by going back and forth between a gasoline engine and electric motor, tend to offer better mileage in slow-speed and stop-and-go driving common on Japanese streets, rather than on highways _ just the reverse of conventional cars.
Toyota is promising 38 kilometers per liter, which converts to 90 miles per gallon, in Japan, for the latest Prius.
Underlining its determination to compete with the Insight, Toyota showed a clip from its Japan TV ad at Monday's Prius event, which showed Superman zooming around a city before returning to his human form as Clark Kent, the reporter, with a scoop about the car's low price.
Toyoda hinted there may be a wait for the Prius.
"I already ordered mine," Toyoda said. "If you want yours before the end of the year, go rush to your dealer."
Obama's Risky Debt
By Robert J. Samuelson
Monday, May 18, 2009
Just how much government debt does a president have to endorse before he's labeled "irresponsible"? Well, apparently much more than the massive amounts envisioned by President Obama. The final version of his 2010 budget, released last week, is a case study in political expediency and economic gambling.
Let's see. From 2010 to 2019, Obama projects annual deficits totaling $7.1 trillion; that's atop the $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009. By 2019, the ratio of publicly held federal debt to gross domestic product (GDP, or the economy) would reach 70 percent, up from 41 percent in 2008. That would be the highest since 1950 (80 percent). The Congressional Budget Office, using less optimistic economic forecasts, raises these estimates. The 2010-19 deficits would total $9.3 trillion; the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2019 would be 82 percent.
But wait: Even these totals may be understated. By various estimates, Obama's health plan might cost $1.2 trillion over a decade; Obama has budgeted only $635 billion. Next, the huge deficits occur despite a pronounced squeeze of defense spending. From 2008 to 2019, total federal spending would rise 75 percent, but defense spending would increase only 17 percent. Unless foreign threats recede, military spending and deficits might both grow.
Except from crabby Republicans, these astonishing numbers have received little attention -- a tribute to Obama's Zen-like capacity to discourage serious criticism. Everyone's fixated on the present economic crisis, which explains and justifies big deficits (lost revenue, anti-recession spending) for a few years. Hardly anyone notes that huge deficits continue indefinitely.
One reason Obama is so popular is that he has promised almost everyone lower taxes and higher spending. Beyond the undeserving who make more than $250,000, 95 percent of "working families" receive a tax cut. Obama would double federal spending for basic research in "key agencies." He wants to build high-speed-rail networks that would require continuous subsidy. Obama can do all this and more by borrowing.
Consider the extra debt as a proxy for political evasion. The president doesn't want to confront Americans with choices between lower spending and higher taxes -- or, given the existing deficits, perhaps both less spending and more taxes. Except for talk, Obama hasn't done anything to reduce the expense of retiring baby boomers. He claims to be containing overall health costs, but he's actually proposing more government spending (see above).
Closing future deficits with either tax increases or spending cuts would require gigantic changes. Discounting the recession's effect on the deficit, Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget puts the underlying "structural deficit" -- the basic gap between the government's spending commitments and its tax base -- at 3 to 4 percent of GDP. In today's dollars, that's roughly $400 billion to $600 billion.
It's true that since 1961 the federal budget has run deficits in all but five years. But the resulting government debt has consistently remained below 50 percent of GDP; that's the equivalent of a household with $100,000 of income having a $50,000 debt. (Note: Deficits are the annual gap between government's spending and its tax revenue. The debt is the total borrowing caused by past deficits.) Adverse economic effects, if any, were modest. But Obama's massive, future deficits would break this pattern and become more threatening.
At best, the rising cost of the debt would intensify pressures to increase taxes, cut spending -- or create bigger, unsustainable deficits. By the CBO's estimates, interest on the debt as a share of federal spending will double between 2008 and 2019, to 16 percent. Huge budget deficits could also weaken economic growth by "crowding out" private investment.
At worst, the burgeoning debt could trigger a future financial crisis. The danger is that "we won't be able to sell [Treasury debt] at reasonable interest rates," says economist Rudy Penner, head of the CBO from 1983 to 1987. In today's anxious climate, this hasn't happened. American and foreign investors have favored "safe" U.S. Treasurys. But a glut of bonds, fears of inflation -- or something else -- might one day shatter confidence. Bond prices might fall sharply; interest rates would rise. The consequences could be worldwide because foreigners own half of U.S. Treasury debt.
The Obama budgets flirt with deferred distress, though we can't know what form it might take or when it might occur. Present gain comes with the risk of future pain. As the present economic crisis shows, imprudent policies ultimately backfire, even if the reversal's timing and nature are unpredictable.
The wonder is that these issues have been so ignored. Imagine hypothetically that a President McCain had submitted a budget plan identical to Obama's. There would almost certainly have been a loud outcry: "McCain's Mortgaging Our Future." Obama should be held to no less exacting a standard.
過大な政府の援助にも拘わらず、GMは破産法適用の段階に来た。昨年のTARP以来、伊勢爺さんは「GMも、クライスラーも倒産する」と断言してきた。オバマは相当青い人間だ。ワシントン・ポストは、オバマを支援する新聞社だ。だが、今朝の社説は、、伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナPresident Obama may call them 'speculators,' but the economy needs private investors.
DESPITE a massive infusion of government cash, General Motors is slowly and almost assuredly limping toward bankruptcy. The company's stock has been hovering just above the $1 mark for the past few days, and chief executive Fritz Henderson has signaled that bankruptcy court may be the best -- or perhaps only -- venue in which the company can come to terms with its creditors. GM -- and its partner, the U.S. government, which could get as much as a 50 percent equity stake in the company -- have set themselves a deadline at the end of this month to decide what to do.
And therein lies the potential danger. The government's intervention in GM's financial affairs tilts the scales so dramatically in the company's (read: government's) favor that it risks shutting out the legitimate interests of some creditors in favor of politically connected players who are owed much less and have less of a claim to the company's money. GM bondholders, for example, are being pushed to accept a 10 percent equity stake in repayment of their $27 billion in loans to the company. The United Auto Workers, on the other hand, is being offered a 35 percent equity stake in exchange for its claim of roughly $10 billion -- a claim that would typically be wiped out in bankruptcy. It is hard to blame bondholders for refusing to cave in to the government's pressure, especially because some of them bought insurance against a possible GM bankruptcy; that insurance would pay them more than $2 billion in cold, hard cash -- instead of in potentially worthless stock should the company file for Chapter 11 protection.
There is reason for GM creditors to be uneasy, especially after the government's hardball tactics in the recent Chrysler bankruptcy. In that case, hedge fund investors who refused to accept the government's low-ball offers were demeaned by the president as "speculators" and all but blamed for driving the automaker into insolvency. Once in bankruptcy court, these creditors fared no better, in large part because the government's decision to provide operating funds for Chrysler gives it an outsized power to shape the reorganization. While the hedge funds are likely to receive less than 30 cents on the dollar, a health-care fund controlled by the UAW is being handed a 55 percent ownership stake in Chrysler. If bankruptcy rules had been strictly followed, the union would have been entitled to little, if any, return.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and it was with this thought in mind that we endorsed the federal government's decision to pump billions of dollars into the automakers. But the spectacle of creditors being stripped of their legal rights in favor of a labor union with which the president is politically aligned does little to attract private capital at a time when the government and many companies need these investors the most. Investors' fears will only be compounded if the administration follows a similar blueprint with GM.
Do you have a different view of this issue? Debate a member of the editorial board in the Editorial Judgment discussion group. ＊今夜、アメリカ人たちのコメントをここへ足します。伊勢