Note: This is an anniversary republish of our original analysis from March 19, 2003 eleven years ago.

I find it astonishing that there are still some fools claiming the invasion had anything to do with WMD. We stated on the eve of the invasion that the data was clear and convincing that Saddam Hussein did not have the skills, personnel or ability to develop a modern WMD program.

I got some things right, some things wrong (notably, a peak in bonds!), but overall, the assessment was pretty dead on.

This is my  favorite paragraph:

“These same surprising findings lead to the conclusion that we are at the beginning of a large scale, continuing US military operation. We expect the subsequent occupation of Iraq to last several years, and may continue for as long as a decade. The cost for this effort starts at ~$200 billion dollars, and may scale up to one trillion dollars by 2011.”

Full downloadable report below.



Not-So-Hidden Agenda: Strategic and Economic Assessments of U.S. led Invasion in the Middle East
Pre War Analysis, March 19, 2003

I’ve gotten a lot of requests — and some terrific feedback — since Dave Farber mentioned it on his Interesting People list.

For those of you who want to have a better understanding of the more likely reasons we invaded Iraq, pull up a chair and a cup of coffee and have at it:

Download Word Doc file
Download PDF file

An abstract is below. Perhaps at some future date we’ll tackle what the potential pitfalls might be of our 10 year, $1 trillion dollar stay in Iraq.

Feel free to post any comments or intelligent criticisms here; If you are shy you can email them (privately).


A strategic assessment of the imminent War and its economic impact, based on “open source” materials. Several unexpected conclusions are reached: First, the explanations offered by the nation’s leadership for military action is inadequate to explain the US commitment to any invasion. Second, by “reverse engineering” the strategic decision making process, we learn there may indeed be compelling reasons for invading and occupying Iraq.

These findings lead to the conclusion that any U.S. military presence in the Middle East is likely to be a large scale, continuing operation. The subsequent occupation of Iraq may last several years, and continue for a decade. The cost for this effort could scale up to one trillion dollars by 2011.

Lastly, we attempt to assess the impact the War will have on the equity and fixed income markets; We also apply those findings to specific market sectors and industries. Finally, we suggest how asset managers may wish to position their portfolios in the months and years ahead.

NOTE: This research piece was originally published via Maxim Group on March 19, 2003. This was prior to my moving my Blog over to Typepad from Geocities sometime in July 2003. It was uploaded here at this chronological posting date for archive reasons on 10/04/04. . .

Category: Really, really bad calls, War/Defense

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

7 Responses to “Strategic & Economic Assessment of Iraq Invasion (2003)”

  1. ilsm says:

    Terrifying thought of an Iraqi (Iranian) nuke on an oil tanker.

    Selling: Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom, sales pitches for war profits.

    Eisenhower on “unwarranted influence” (1961) or his earlier statements about “opportunity costs” (1953 after Stalin died). Lots of money to be made using war infrastructure, and justify wars’ future. Selling future weapons (we talk F-35 but Navy has two super carriers being “laid down” with rocket science electromagnetic catapults) , and making excuses for spending the money to always be able to perform 2.5 OIF’s.

    Next defense review is 2014, will decide on the number of OIF’s we buy F-35′s and super carriers to try and fight.

    US “national security” strategy has included keeping the royals’ monopoly over the region’s huge, high quality carbon reserves, despite the moral and economic costs. The US has a plan to kill enough of them to keep the Royals’ oil cartel going.

    As long as the media-government noise machine uses Goring’s proscription, defense stocks will be like regulated utilities or insurance companies [with a central banker underwriting], enjoying steady growth.

    “No prince prospers by long war”. Sun Tzu. But a sector or two do quite well.

  2. Expat says:

    Why would Iran or Iraq put a nuke on an oil tanker? It’s like suggesting the US would attack the rest of the world by putting cyanide in McDonald’s hamburgers or in every can of Coke.

    Iran wants nukes because they see that North Korea, Israel, Pakistan, India, and the older, established nuclear powers don’t get pushed around quite so much by the US. Iran wants nukes because it is surrounded by dozens of US military bases all preparing to attack or invade. Iran wants nukes to keep the “Great Satan” from meddling once again in Iran’s internal affairs, assassinating democratically elected leaders or fomenting dissent.

    The war on Iraq is not a single act. It is part of a broader and continuing US hegemony. The American view is that we are right and good and therefore our militarism is justified. The non-American view can only be understood by those whose children disappear in a puff of red mist during a Predator strike.

    The cost of the invasion and occupation of Iraq should not be measured on its own. That is a meaningless calculation. It should be written in the long column of massive costs associated with our military empire alongside the human costs.

  3. Greg0658 says:

    ditto me on Expats para2

  4. MidlifeNocrisis says:

    Expat: +10

  5. martin66 says:

    I remember being at a Spring Training game in Phoenix – it may have been the Cubs – when the announcement came over the PA that bombs were falling in Baghdad. The crowd stood and cheered. I wanted to throw up.

    Thanks BR for being one of the few to speak your mind from the very beginning. Vietnam may have been a Quagmire but Iraq has been a true Fiasco.

  6. Expat says:

    If you agree, or more importantly, disagree with my point of view, I suggest you read the excellent Blowback trilogy by Chalmers Johnson. If you think Eisenhower’s advice on the military-industrial complex has been heeded or that America is the World’s Policeman by popular demand, then these books might enlighten you. If you believe America is just another troubled empire, then they will give you plenty of facts and anecdotes for your next debate with Donald Rumsfeld.

  7. farmera1 says:

    When Will The Leaders Who Took Us To War In Iraq Finally Admit They Made A Mistake?

    I always thought the invasion of IRaq by the US was consistent with the Goebbels quote from the Nuremberg Trials about how any country can be led to war by a determined leader:

    “Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.”

    –Goering at the Nuremberg Trials