David Gardner / The Daily Mail – 2007-08-02 22:23:29
=LONDON (August 1, 2007) — The war in Iraq is costing British and American taxpayers more than £2,000 a second. The combined bill for the two countries was revealed yesterday as the conflict claimed the lives of a British soldier – our 164th military victim – and four U.S. troops.
More then 100 Iraqis also died in a series of suicide bombings and attacks that have become commonplace in the chaotic aftermath of the 2003 invasion. Washington’s Congressional Budget Office estimated that as of June, up to £250 billion had been spent on combat operations in Iraq. The tally is snowballing at the rate of £5billion a month, which translates to nearly £2,000 every second.
Britain’s war spending is running at £80million a month, or £31 a second. That may be a drop in the ocean compared to the U.S., but critics say it is nevertheless a major drain on national coffers.
With US military commanders insisting they need more time to get results from President Bush’s troop surge, Washington analysts claim the eventual cost of the conflict could be more than £500billion.
To put the spending into perspective, America recently pledged £18million to the United Nations’ refugee agency – an amount which would fund military operations in Iraq for less than three hours.
In the face of the unrelenting death toll, Vice President Dick Cheney finally acknowledged yesterday that he was wrong two years ago to insist the insurgency was in its ‘last throes’.
It was the White House’s first admission of the extent to which the Bush administration underestimated the strength of America’s enemies in the increasingly unpopular and prolonged war.
However, Cheney, speaking to CNN’s Larry King, said he would still have sent troops into Iraq even if had known that more than 3,000 of them would perish.
The British soldier killed by a roadside bomb on a routine patrol through Basra on Tuesday had not been named last night. Three Americans were also killed by a bomb blast in Baghdad and a fourth fell victim to a sniper.
Suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad killed 50 bystanders and injured 60 more at a petrol station west of Baghdad, and 20 people died near a busy market in the centre of the capital. A further 37 Iraqi lives were lost in various other attacks around Baghdad.
Pentagon officials confirmed yesterday that the war is costing far more than expected. The top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, hinted he will be recommending that extra troops sent to Iraq over the past few months stay until 2009.
Deputy Defence Secretary Gordon England conceded next year’s war tab would exceed the administration’s existing request for almost £71billion.
Robert Sunshine, the U.S. Budget Office’s assistant director, said it will cost £250billion to sustain even a reduced number of 30,000 troops over the next three years. If 75,000 American soldiers remain stationed in Iraq for another five years, the bill would rise by more than £450billion, he said.
One of President Bush’s top budget advisors, Lawrence Lindsey, was fired in 2003 when he estimated that the war would cost £100billion, a figure described at the time as far too high but now considered a gross underestimate.
House Budget Committee chairman John Spratt said current calculations hadn’t even taken into account the cost of sending more troops into the war zone over the past few months.
‘We’re actually spending more and more each year on the war,’ he said. ‘It’s an ominous indication the costs are continuing to rise.’
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