The Iraqi economy is in shambles, in part because of an expensive war against Iran in the 1980s, its reparations to Kuwait, severe U.N. sanctions, and business claims. Those costs run to around $100 billion. Destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure amounts to $230 billion alone. As a result the country is totally reliant on the sale of oil. And while its reserves are thought to be second only to Saudi Arabia's, Iraq has been producing at only half its potential of 3 million barrels a day.

As for the costs to the U.S. of the coming war: Estimates run to $99 billion from 2003 to 2012,if all goes well—a short war, followed by democratization and speeded-up oil production. But should the war drag on, ending in a lengthy occupation, and if the oil fields with all their infrastructure are destroyed, and if the Muslim world reacts against the U.S., the venture might end up costing $1.9 trillion.

For the U.S. the most important aspect of these different scenarios is whether and to what extent other countries will help pay for the long-term costs of war. And that is why an international coalition is so important. If the U.S. goes it alone, we'll pay for the whole thing. But if there is a true international coalition, then the costs get spread around. As Nordhaus points out, "The longer, more expensive, bloodier, more unilateral, and more destructive is the war, the larger the fraction of the very large costs the U.S. will be forced to bear."

Pensions? What Pensions?
Heart of Steel

Anyone thinking that Bush cleaned up the corporations to make the world safe for the millions of retirees who depend on their promised health care and pensions should take a look at what's happening at Bethlehem Steel, where the bankrupt company has just announced it can't pay 95,000 employees their promised health care and life insurance benefits because of a proposed $1.5 billion merger with International Steel Group. Bethlehem chairman Robert Miller won't say how many jobs will be lost, but Reuters reports that he's offering $100 million in buyouts to persuade senior employees to retire. Not a dime for the rank and file.

Masters of the Universe

Donald Rumsfeld at 2:40 p.m., September 11, 2001: "Best info fast. Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at the same time. Not only UBL [Usama bin Laden, as he was then sometimes called].

. . . Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

Source: CBS News, September 4, 2002

Additional reporting: Phoebe St John and Rebecca Winsor

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