REBUILDING IRAQ….Warren Vieth has a very good article in the Los Angeles Times today about the cost of postwar Iraqi reconstruction. Bottom line: it’s going to be a lot more expensive than you think.

Iraq will emerge from the war a financial shambles, many economists say, with a debt load bigger than that of Argentina, a cash flow crunch rivaling those of Third World countries, a mountain of unresolved compensation claims, a shaky currency, high unemployment, galloping inflation and a crumbling infrastructure expected to sustain more damage before the shooting stops.

And the more oil Iraq produces to pump up its earnings, the more likely it becomes that prices will fall, leaving it no better off than before.

“Clearly, it’s a basket case,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. “Once you start talking about it, you see what an impossible situation it is. I don’t think the Bush administration is anxious to have that conversation.”

Read the whole thing to get the grim financial details.

Now, even the moderate, non-France-bashing CalPundit is willing to concede that paying off the Iraqi debt to France from weapons sales is probably a pretty low priority. And war reparations to Iran and Kuwait might get put on the back burner too.

Still, the overall picture is grim, and if we truly want to rebuild Iraq into a stable nation state instead of simply installing a not-unfriendly client government and then leaving, it’s going to set us back a few dollars. It sure is too bad we did this against the wishes of the entire world, thus forsaking our best hope of getting financial help with this, isn’t it?