If only we’d bought Siberia

Just before the Iraq invasion in 2003, I commented to a friend that we should instead just buy Siberia.

Huh?  Bear with me.

At the time, oil prices were relatively low, so Russia was in difficult straits. They were short on cash, and faced a growing geopolitical threat from China, whose population outnumbers Russia by 9 to 1 across a very long, very thinly defended border.  Meanwhile, the US was still flush with credit (if not cash), able to buy what it wanted.

At that time, the entire GDP of Russia was only about $800 billion.  My proposal was that we offer them that much in cash — an entire year’s income for their entire country — in return for the coldest, least desirable, least habitable, least populated, least defensible part of eastern Russia.  And all its oil and gas rights, of course.  We would agree to defend it with only conventional forces, no missiles, no nukes, etc.

This would solve our oil problem.  Russia could hand its China problem to America. And we could stay thousands of miles away from the Middle East.

No, Russia would never have agreed to it.  The point of proposing this idea, then as now, was to put the cost of the Iraq war in perspective.  The estimated total cost of our Iraq adventure (excluding human cost) is now around $5 trillion, or 6 times the entire GDP of Russian in 2003.  Good investment?

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