A new Government Accountability Office report says that its analysis of Iraqi government data showed that Iraq generated an estimated cumulative budget surplus of $52.1 billion through the end of 2009.
Since 2003, the United States has reported obligating $642 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq and provided about $24 billion for training, equipment, and other services for Iraqi security forces.
GAO believes that Congress should consider Iraq’s available financial resources when reviewing the administration’s fiscal year 2011 budget request and any future funding requests for securing and stabilizing Iraq. Also, GAO recommends that the Departments of State and the Treasury work with the Iraqi government to further identify available resources.
According to State and DOD officials, the United States and Iraq have not yet defined their longer-term security relationship. However, the United States and Iraq signed two bilateral agreements in November 2008 that set the stage for Iraq to assume a greater role in providing for its own security and for cooperation between the two countries. The U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement requires the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq by December 31, 2011, and governs their presence in the interim. Within the security agreement, the Iraqi government requests the temporary assistance of U.S. forces to support its efforts to maintain security and stability in Iraq.
According to DOD and State officials, the U.S. and Iraqi governments may amend the security agreement by mutual agreement. Such amendments could include an extension of the withdrawal timetable or an authorization of a residual U.S. force to continue training the Iraqi security forces after 2011.
Dan Froomkin from HuffPo adds some more details, in case, we suffer from short term memory:
The report makes a direct link between U.S. government spending — including $642 billion on U.S. military operations there and $24 billion for training and equipping the Iraqi security forces — and Iraq’s cumulative surplus of $52.1 billion through the end of 2009.
For comparison purposes, Iraq’s annual gross domestic product is $65.8 billion. Meanwhile, the U.S. national debt has soared from $6.4 trillion to $13.4 trillion since former president George W. Bush invaded Iraq and decided to borrow the money for wars and slash taxes.
Days after the invasion began, Bush-era deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz famously told Congress that Iraq could “really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.”
The GAO now reports: “Iraq’s large oil reserves offer the government the potential to contribute to the country’s current and future security and stabilization requirements. Oil revenues account for over 50 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and about 90 percent of the government’s revenues.”
Meanwhile, Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning professor at Columbia University, and Harvard public policy expert Linda J. Bilmes, estimate that the true cost of the Iraq war to American taxpayers is more than $3 trillion.
Active links added above. Continue reading Iraq Posting Massive Surplus Thanks To U.S. Taxpayers
In related news, McClatchy is reporting that “The Obama administration, which has asked Congress to approve $2 billion for training and equipping Iraqi military and police in the 2011 fiscal year, said carrying out the GAO recommendation could put Iraq at financial risk and jeopardize U.S. interests in a country where it’s spent, by the report’s calculation, $642 billion in military operations since 2003.”