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http://www.helsinki-hs.net/news.asp?id=20030401IE3 Foreign - Tuesday 1.4.2003 Three price tags on war in Iraq PERSPECTIVE By Jaakko Kangasluoma There are at least three price-tags attached to the ongoing war in Iraq. They are already large, but still a long way from being the final cost. Measured in money terms, the war is expensive, but then wars always are. An optimistic and provisional estimate holds that the war itself - in other words the destruction and the killing - will cost around USD 100 million. In these matters, the word "optimistic" usually means "wrong", and "provisional" stands for "premature". After the first week of fighting, the UN put forward its own estimate, according to which the humanitarian operation required in Iraq would be the largest ever carried out, which presumably means it will also be the most costly. The impact of the war on the global economy is being analysed right now, and the forecasts are gloomy. So much for money. The second price is a political one. Gauging the size of this may seem somehow secondary, but it is not. Everyone suffers from the negative political fall-out that may be coming down. The political destruction started well before the war took off, and it gathered momentum as the fighting approached. The United Nations was put out to grass. Nowadays it takes part as a critical guest of honour at those gatherings where the leaders of the new world order meet to shape the next moves of the new world order. They nod respectfully at the greying figure of the UN, but turn a deaf ear to what it might have to say: "Well, of course, it used to be a heavy-hitter, but it got stuck in the wrong decade, didn't it?" Inside the EU, the Iraq crisis put a number of ugly dents and scratches on the basic principles of the Union at a time when unanimity of purpose would have been crucial to meeting the challenges of enlargement. And what about NATO, whose most significant operation during the war in Iraq has been its appearance in the Slovenian referendum on membership, last Sunday? All this notwithstanding, the greatest political price is being racked up in the region where the war is being fought. It is pointless to claim that the attack on Iraq will not generate problems in relations between the West and the Islamic world. And this price-tag is the most dangerous, since the final sum and its impact is a question-mark and will remain so long after the guns have fallen silent. The third price to be paid is calculated in units of human suffering. Thousands will die in Iraq, and in all probability many more than that. Tens of thousands, probably more, will be wounded or injured. Homes will be destroyed, the conditions for living will be laid waste by the razing of infrastructure, refugees will flow here and there, and the threat of disease is manifest. Humanitarian catastrophe hovers in the wings. After one week of war it would appear that each of the three price-tags is being hiked upwards, to a level greater than anyone could estimate beforehand. And if the aggregate cost becomes so colossal, can any outcome to the fighting be deemed worth it? Doubtless the majority of the Iraqi population will rejoice in the toppling of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. But is freedom a turn for the better, if the liberation takes place in a country that will require - in the worst case scenario - the work of generations to put the place into a liveable condition? I do not know. Perhaps the Iraqis know. The United States has painted out its great vision something along these lines: A liberated Iraq provides an example to others. It radiates out more freedom and thereby a greater stability and prosperity for the immediate area. We witness peaceful transitions to democracy. The vital oil-rich region becomes more peaceful and the potential contained in its underground wealth is harnessed to serve all the inhabitants of the Middle East. The entire world benefits. And while all this is happening, the most important task - that of obliterating the threat of terrorist attacks - is dealt with almost automatically as the roots of terrorism wither away. What little threat remains is eradicated by the actions of the responsible new leaders. Oh, and I nearly forgot, into the bargain the Israelis and the Palestinians finally wake up to reality and decide to bury the hatchet. If the above analysis of the war's effects proves to be an accurate one, then it indicates that the United States' leadership boasts the most gifted visionaries in the history of political thought. It means that the bizarre experiment in "making the world anew" as evinced in the Iraq goings-on will succeed at the first time of asking. The enormous cost would indeed reap an enormous reward. But then again, nothing less would suffice. Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 29.3.2003 ------------------------------------------------------ JAAKKO KANGASLUOMA / Helsingin Sanomat firstname.lastname@example.org __________________________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Tax Center - File online, calculators, forms, and more http://tax.yahoo.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk