Conspiracy Theories

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 and 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."

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. Oh, and not a dime for the rank and file. Additional reporting by Phoebe St. John and Rebecca Winsor.
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