Remember Fuzzy Math?

by Andrew Hanauer | 10/17/03 5:00am

When George W. Bush ran for president as a compassionate conservative, many of us who didn't know any better thought that silly comments were as bad as it could get. Don't vote for Bush, we thought, he's a buffoon! Sadly, in the words of Bush himself, we "misunderestimated" his capacity for harm. Now, three years later, here is the math of the war this President wrought.

The following statistics are as of Oct. 11, 2003, 365 days after Congress authorized the President to go to war. It all started with preparation. Army Chief of Staff Erik Shineski claimed that the U.S. would need hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared this estimate to be "way off the mark." As of Oct. 11, we had 150,000 military personnel in the Middle East supporting the war effort. The Pentagon planned on having 30,000 U.S. troops in Iraq as of late 2003. Instead, we have that many Army and National Guard forces alone (we also have 50,000 reservists).

Then there's the price of the war. The projected total cost of occupying Iraq comes to $221 billion. A drop in the bucket, perhaps? After all, aren't we facing trillions of dollars in deficit? Well, yes, but here's what $222 billion buys us annually: the National Cancer Institute, FBI, pollution control, foreign aid, NASA, agricultural support payments, food stamps, non-defense homeland security, health research and training, highways, financial aid to college students and federal support for grade-school education and high-school education combined.

Oh, and President Bush's "top-gun" landing on the aircraft carrier? That stunt cost taxpayers $800,000.

And things aren't pretty on the Iraqi side, either. In March, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz estimated that Iraqi oil revenues would run upwards of $50-$100 billion dollars over the next two to three years. But in September, Rumsfeld admitted that revenues this year would be only $2 billion.

Meanwhile, there's the story of Halliburton, Dick Cheney's old company. Indeed, a Halliburton subsidiary was awarded a no-bid troop-housing contract worth $200 million, and the total value of Halliburton contracts in Iraq is $1.7 billion. In Iraq, the math is clear. Large corporations with ties to the Bush Administration win, taxpayers lose.

The validity of this President's justification for the war is also falling apart in the face of fuzzy math. The administration claimed that Iraq had 2.3 tons of biological agents, 6,868 gallons of ready-to-use anthrax, and 317 gallons of botulinum toxin. Yet 300 alleged Iraqi weapons sites searched later, there have been zero weapons of mass destruction discovered.

We went to war believing our President was telling us the truth about the threat posed by Iraq, and yet 16 words in the President's State of the Union Address have been proven to be false. Meanwhile, 324 Americans have died in the war, including 184 in the 164 days since President Bush declared that the war was "over." And yet it took the Administration's website 102 days to change the headline announcing the end of combat operations to the end of "major combat operations."

The estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths are, well, fuzzy, but one reputable source lists the minimum as over 7,000 and the maximum at just over 9,000. It comes to these numbers by collecting data from all major news sources' accounts of civilian deaths. This, of course, does not include the number of Iraqi soldiers killed. The administration and, unfortunately, its Democratic opponents, rarely mention the number of human lives lost if they are not American.

We have a government that sought to start a war. It needed justification, so it misrepresented the threat posed by the enemy. It needed support, so it misrepresented what the cost would be, what the benefit would be and how much manpower it would take to persevere. Meanwhile, it allowed a company to which it has close ties to benefit monetarily from the execution of the war. Then it tried to claim that the war was over. It wasn't. It isn't.

So now the math is no longer fuzzy; it all adds up to zero. Zero justification for the war, zero faith in this President to tell the truth, and zero hope that we are going to get out of Iraq anytime soon. Of course, the United Nations could lend us a hand, but we didn't show them much respect. So it looks like we're going to get zero help.

Three years ago, we thought we were getting a zero for a president. Who knew it was his heart we were talking about and not his brain?