WAR UPDATE….Let’s summarize, shall we?

  • The White House refuses to estimate how much war with Iraq will cost. The number used to be $50 billion, now it’s $100 billion. And despite the fact that even that number is obviously a lowball figure, Paul Wolfowitz refuses to speculate further. “There will be an appropriate moment,” he said, when the Pentagon would provide Congress with cost ranges. “We’re not in a position to do that right now.” Huh? We’ve been planning this war for at least six months and the last I heard, we were planning to invade in about three weeks. Why are they not yet in a position to say what it will cost? My boss generally expected a little better out of me.

  • Pentagon generals think the post-war occupation will require “several hundred thousand” troops, but the White House says that’s “wildly off the mark.” No more than 100,000, tops.

  • Saddam Hussein has apparently agreed to destroy his banned missiles. This provides some evidence that he’s not suicidally crazy and helps the cause of those who say that he can be successfully contained or deterred.

  • Russian officials ? after meeting with Chinese officials ? say Russia will veto a UN resolution that authorizes force. The Russia-France-China axis is showing suprising strength.

  • This is bad news for Tony Blair, who barely headed off a revolt of his own party two days ago, when 121 Labour MPs defied party discipline to vote for an amendment that said “the case for military action against Iraq [is] as yet unproven.” Blair really needs a UN resolution, and it’s looking more and more like he won’t get it.

  • Bush gave a nice speech at the AEI on Wednesday saying that we’re dedicated to bringing democracy to the Middle East, but the administration’s apparent sellout of the Kurds doesn’t give Bush’s words much credibility, does it? And if he’s as dedicated to solving the Israel-Palestine crisis as he said, why has he completely ignored it for the past two years? And why did he flatly turn down Tony Blair’s pleading to start up new peace talks last December?

That’s it for this morning. Doesn’t sound very hopeful, does it?