Today is the 16th anniversary of Andrew Natsios’ appearance on ABC’s Nightline where, on behalf of the George W. Bush administration, the then-director of the U.S. Agency for International Development assured the American people that the total cost of rebuilding Iraq after the unnecessary U.S.-led invasion of that country would be $1.7 billion dollars.
This was a bit off. Estimates of the total cost — so far — range from $2 trillion to $6 trillion. But what’s a few $1,000,000,000,000 here or there among friends?
Here, from a transcript of that April 23, 2003 Nightline show, is a precise record of one of the wrongest, stupidest, most dishonest and epically foolish claims ever made by anyone, anywhere, since the dawn of time:
TED KOPPEL (Off Camera): Well, it’s a, I think you’ll agree, this is a much bigger project than any that’s been talked about. Indeed, I understand that more money is expected to be spent on this than was spent on the entire Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of Europe after World War II.
ANDREW NATSIOS: No, no. This doesn’t even compare remotely with the size of the Marshall Plan.
TED KOPPEL (Off Camera): The Marshall Plan was $97 billion.
ANDREW NATSIOS: This is $1.7 billion.
TED KOPPEL (Off Camera): All right, this is the first. I mean, when you talk about 1.7, you’re not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?
ANDREW NATSIOS: Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US. The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges, Britain, Germany, Norway, Japan, Canada, and Iraqi oil revenues, eventually in several years, when it’s up and running and there’s a new government that’s been democratically elected, will finish the job with their own revenues. They’re going to get in $20 billion a year in oil revenues. But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.
Sixteen years and trillions of dollars later, the war is still not over.