Today's Blethen article on the Petraeus hearings also references the reconstruction funding issue, and a question Sen. Collins addressed to Ambassador Crocker on that subject:
"Isn't it time for the Iraqis to start bearing more of those expenses, particularly in light of a windfall of revenue due to the high price of oil?" Collins asked.Let's set the record straight here before the Collins folks spin this into a fairy tale.
In 2003, Collins and several others pressed President Bush to require Iraq to pay back a portion of $20 billion in reconstruction funding. Bush showed his displeasure when he met with Collins at the White House, according to news accounts at the time.
As far as I can tell, the U.S. has provided no new reconstruction funding to Iraq since the original $20 billion grant. So Collins is talking about having the Iraqis pay back some percentage of $20 billion.
If you've been following the war at all, you know that $20 billion barely amounts to a drop in the bucket: The war and occupation will cost the American taxpayer well over $1 trillion. So getting the Iraqis to pay back some fraction of two percent of our costs won't make much of a dent.
Let's be clear: The notion that the costs of our Iraq adventure are ever going to be recouped is just plain wrong.
The money is gone, we're not getting it back, and the people who supported and enabled the war are to blame.