From Talking Points Memo Muckraker
A new Congressional study finds that President Bush's plans for the U.S. in Iraq over the next several decades will reach the trillions of dollars, on top of the approximately $567 billion the war has already cost. That accounting assumes a significant troop draw-down -- and still tallies a daunting expense for the United States.
On June 1, during a trip to U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu, Defense Secretary Robert Gates mused about how to "posture ourselves" in Iraq "for the long term." The Vietnam experience underscored the undesirability of a sudden, abrupt withdrawal. Far better for the U.S. to follow the experiences of post-conflict garrisoning in Korea and Japan, he said: "a mutually agreed arrangement whereby we have a long and enduring presence." President Bush is reportedly intrigued by the so-called Korea model, wherein the U.S. has guaranteed security on the Korean peninsula with at least four U.S. Army combat brigades for half a century. Indeed, in his speech on Thursday, Bush declared himself ready to build an "enduring relationship" between the U.S. and Iraq.
The study, conducted by the Congressional Budget Office, decided to follow the Korea model to calculate its expense. Since it's unclear for how long or under what conditions combat operations will ensue, the CBO projects both a combat and a non-combat presence. Both, however, are projected to require 55,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The combat scenario entails one-time costs of $4 to $8 billion, with annual expenses of $25 billion, projected outward. Under the non-combat scenario, a $8 billion one-time cost -- mainly for the construction of additional "enduring" bases -- would be followed by annual costs of $10 billion or less.