Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Shocking and Awful

[[W A R]] * Captain Clueless in the Oval Office, never known by the White House press corps for his mastery of information, couldn’t provide a definitive answer yesterday when he was asked how many Iraqis have perished since the U.S. military invaded Saddam Hussein’s homeland back in March 2003. “I would say 30,000 more or less have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis,” George W. Bush told lunching members of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. “We’ve lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq.”

White House spinmeister ... er, spokesman Scott McClellan later maintained that there’s no official U.S. estimate of Iraqi deaths, and that the prez was merely repeating media estimates.

If so, Bush might be cribbing from The Independent, a London daily newspaper that today--on the eve of Iraqi parliamentary elections--delivers a package of reports and analyses about the run-up and results of the invasion, which was heavily supported at the time by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Among The Independent’s offerings is a “war by the numbers” compilation of calculations that give some flesh-and-blood-and-treasure measure of the Iraq conflict’s costs up to this point. Among the statistics:

$204.4 billion: The cost to the U.S. of the war so far. The UK’s bill up until March 2005 was £3.1 billion

2,339: Allied troops killed

98: UK troops killed

30,000: Estimated Iraqi civilian deaths

0: Number of WMDs found

$35,819 million: World Bank estimated cost of reconstruction

53,470: Iraqi insurgents killed

67 percent: Iraqis who feel less secure because of occupation

66: Journalists killed in Iraq. Journalists killed during Vietnam war: 63

251: Foreigners kidnapped

183,000: British and American troops still in action in Iraq. There are 162,000 U.S. troops and 8,000 British with 13,000 from other nations.

90: Daily attacks by insurgents in November ’05. In June ’03: 8

15,955: U.S. troops wounded in action

Here are two final statistics, provided by an ABC News poll: “More than two-thirds of those [Iraqis] surveyed oppose the presence of troops from the United States and its coalition partners and less than half, 44 percent, say their country is better off now than it was before the war.”

A BILLION HERE, A BILLION THERE--PRETTY SOON IT ADDS UP TO REAL MONEY. As the Associated Press reports, “The Pentagon is in the early stages of drafting a wartime request for up to $100 billion more for Iraq and Afghanistan, ... a figure that would push spending related to the wars toward a staggering half-trillion dollars.” Read on.

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