Saturday, August 13, 2005

Thirteen numbers that tell about George Bush - part 1

The Democratic party recently distributed a fund-raising letter in which it listed thirteen numbers that “tell how poorly George Bush and the Republican Congress have served America.” At first glance, these numbers look serious, but when we look a little deeper they loose much of their force against the President, and in some cases highlight how well he has actually done his job. I’ll post these questions in a couple of chunks together with a brief analysis of why these numbers do not make the point the party leaders apparently think they do.

Numbers 1-4:

1. 1766 - number of American soldiers killed in Iraq as of July 18, 2005
This works out to about 61 casualties per month or two per day. For a war of this magnitude, this level of casualties would seem to be remarkably low. At this rate it would take over seventy years to reach the number of casualties suffered in the Vietnam war (58,226) .

2. $181 billion - spent on the Iraq as of July 18, 2005.
Operation Desert Storm cost $61 billion for about 100 days of combat. Iraqi Freedom cost three times that much for almost ten times a long a period, or one third as much to sustain over a much larger front.

3. 0 - number of weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq
While fear of WMDs was one justification for the war, war was authorized for many other reasons, including Saddam’s support for terrorism and violation of numerous United Nations resolutions. The unanimous opinion at the time was that Saddam had WMDs (even his own generals thought so). If he did have them, he also had plenty of opportunity to get rid of them or convert them to peaceful uses (e.g. fertilizer plants) before we invaded. For all we know they may still be hidden out there, since we’re still discovering new weapons caches every day.

4. $98 billion - how much George Bush has underfunded first responders since 9/11
As of early 2004 (see here) only $1.1 billion of the $6.3 billion allocated for first responders under the Homeland Security grant program had actually been spent. It is difficult to see how we could usefully have spent almost 100 times that much, or given the current budget deficit, how it would have been funded.

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