Costs of Conflict in the Middle East

Since 1991 the cost of war to people living in the Middle East is estimated to have been $12 trillion.

Costs of Conflict in the Middle East is the title of a report released earlier this year by the Strategic Foresight Institute in Mumbai, India. The report was assembled out of a discussion process in which people from different countries and different professions came together for at least three conference sessions in different parts of the world to conceive and pull together the report.

Unlike Joseph Stiglitz's report on the costs of the Iraqi war to the US which showed that the direct and indirect costs of the war would easily be some 50 times more than the $60 billion Bush, Rumsfield and Wolfowitz told Congress and Americans it would be back in 2003, this report attempts to pull together the costs for the Iraqis, in the context of all the other conflicts wracking that part of the world. The Institute's total estimate of the cost of war and conflict damage since the starting point of 1991 they chose (First Gulf War) is $12 trillion, (about $40,000 per American) and can be compared with US GNP of a bit more than $13 trillion, or US per capita income in 2007 of around $37,000.

This youtube video presents a graphical summary of the report. A write-up of the work-shop in Switzerland in 2008 out of which the report was produced can be found here. The summary includes a list of participants with their origins. It is noteworthy that none of the "major players" (US, Russia, China, etc.) were represented in these discussions, which were organized by the Swiss, Norwegians, Turks and Qataris. The Mumbai Institute does maintain links with US and other institutions. The Institute's main focus prior to the Iraq War and the Global War on Terror was the conflicts between Pakistan and India and ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Their interests, personnel and activities can be found at this site.

The video summary has been linked to about 800 times, testifying no doubt to the lack of circulation of the report. Since the Bush administration used torture to prepare its case for going to war in Iraq, and this summary identifies some of the principal consequences of that committment, it seems only right to seek a broader circulation for both the summary and report within the United States. It is not only the torture per se which ought to be punished, but also the crimes on behalf of which the torture was performed, such as crimes against peace (war of aggression) and crimes against humanity, under which heading comes torture and what has been done to civilians.

These kinds of estimates are needed if justice is to be done, for the evil which followed from these crimes needs to be made good, and those who have suffered made whole. This report from India seems to contribute to that purpose, not just by trying to account for the costs of what has been done, but also by attempting to outline choices for different paths forward.

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anything goes.  Thanks for that link.  It's just mind boggling.  And to think we were once worried about that missing $2.0 trillion from the Pentagon budget.  Chump change.

"Furthest from him is best, whom reason hath equaled, force hath made supreme above his equals." Milton