Returning to Reuel Marc Gerecht, the essential thing anyone who wants to justify this war as some kind of nice guy method of helping Iraqis out needs to grapple with is the extraordinary opportunity costs involved in fighting it. David Leonhart writes about this today, here’s John Quiggin’s take, and here was mine.
It’s not a coincidence that the administration’s pre-war cost estimates — anywhere from $0 to $50 billion — were so badly off-base. Nobody in their right mind would have agreed ex ante to spend over $1 trillion (so far!) in order to take out Saddam Hussein. The venture was sold as something that would be cheap and easy because it only made sense under the theory that it would, in fact, be cheap and easy. Indeed, I assume most of the prime movers behind the war actually believed it would be cheap and easy. This, after all, is the typical failing of the militarist. Diplomacy, compromise, patience, etc., all seem too hard better to reach for the easy answers of the bombs and tanks. In reality, there’s nothing easy about it.