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David Roberts Headshot

The opportunity costs of the Iraq War

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Yes! Yes, yes, yes. This is the op-ed column I've been waiting to see, and there's nobody better to write it than Richard Clarke.

His point is simple but poorly understood and rarely discussed: the total cost of the Iraq War includes not just the tangible price of personnel and materiel. There are also the opportunity costs -- the other things we could and should have been dealing with while our Munch-meets-Marx Brothers nightmare has been consuming all our attention and capital.

Foremost among them?

Global warming: When the possibility of invading Iraq surfaced in 2001, senior Bush administration officials hadn't thought much about global warming, except to wonder whether it was caused by human activity or by sunspots. Today, the world's scientists and many national leaders worry that the world has passed the point of no return on global warming. If it has, then human damage to the ecosphere will cause more major cities to flood and make the planet significantly less conducive to human habitation -- all over the lifetime of a child now in kindergarten. British Prime Minister Tony Blair keeps trying to convince President Bush of the magnitude of the problem, but in every session between the two leaders Iraq squeezes out the time to discuss the pending planetary disaster.

I generally try to avoid the "read the whole thing" shtick, but ... really. Read the whole thing.