$221 BILLION FOR IRAQ….The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that President Bush’s $87 billion funding request isn’t going to do the job. $55 billion more will still be needed for postwar reconstruction.

We already allocated $79 billion a few months ago, and 79 + 87 + 55 = 221. I’m not sure exactly what period these funding requests cover, but at a guess that’s $221 billion over the course of perhaps 15 months, or about 2% of GDP. That’s a lot of dough.

I’ll need some time to wrap my head around this number, but in the meantime here’s something that continues to genuinely perplex me. Let’s take the hawks at their word that Iraq is a front on the war against terror, and that stabilizing Iraq is a key part of winning the war. You might not believe it, but that’s their case.

But if it’s true, then surely stabilizing Afghanistan is at least as important? In fact, given the large amount of known al-Qaeda activity in Afghanistan and the continuing Taliban presence there, you could make a pretty good argument that keeping a lid on Afghanistan is more important than Iraq.

But in any case, surely it’s not a mere one-tenth as important, as the administration seems to think based on its troop commitments and reconstruction funding there? Especially given the continuing reports that this is the place where the terrorists are regrouping, not Iraq.

It’s a little hard to take the administration’s rhetoric seriously when they pay so little relative attention to stabilizing a genuine terrorist enclave. What are they thinking?

UPDATE: Dick Morris suggested an answer last night, when he said that, election-wise, the Bush administration was making an error in focusing on Iraq. It’s just not a winner, he said. Rather, after blowing it in Afghanistan, they were able to distract everyone by going after Iraq. Likewise, he said, they’ve blown it in Iraq and the answer is….to go after Iran.

“Not ‘Wag the Dog’,” he said, “but talk it up.” Right: just “talk it up.” Where do these people come from who think of war and peace as mere electoral strategies to be used as needed when an election is coming up?

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