[FoRK] [email@example.com: [IP] CASUALTY OF WAR: THE U.S. ECONOMY]
Wed Jul 20 00:02:44 PDT 2005
----- Forwarded message from David Farber <dave at farber.net> -----
From: David Farber <dave at farber.net>
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 2005 20:43:17 -0400
To: Ip ip <ip at v2.listbox.com>
Subject: [IP] CASUALTY OF WAR: THE U.S. ECONOMY
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From: Severo Ornstein <severo at poonhill.com>
Date: July 19, 2005 8:35:59 PM EDT
To: Recipient List Suppressed: ;
Subject: CASUALTY OF WAR: THE U.S. ECONOMY
Moral questions don't seem to matter much in Washington; maybe
economics will - although anyone who doesn't "believe in" global
warming is pretty well disconnected from reality. Nothing really new
here, but nice to see it in print and the charts are good.
CASUALTY OF WAR: THE U.S. ECONOMY
James Sterngold, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, July 17, 2005
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost taxpayers $314
billion, and the Congressional Budget Office projects additional
expenses of perhaps $450 billion over the next 10 years.
That could make the combined campaigns, especially the war in Iraq,
the most expensive military effort in the last 60 years, causing even
some conservative experts to criticize the open-ended commitment to
an elusive goal. The concern is that the soaring costs, given little
weight before now, could play a growing role in U.S. strategic
decisions because of the fiscal impact.
"Osama (bin Laden) doesn't have to win; he will just bleed us to
death," said Michael Scheuer, a former counterterrorism official at
the CIA who led the pursuit of bin Laden and recently retired after
writing two books critical of the Clinton and Bush administrations.
"He's well on his way to doing it."
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonpartisan
Washington think tank, has estimated that the Korean War cost about
$430 billion and the Vietnam War cost about $600 billion, in current
dollars. According to the latest estimates, the cost of the war in
Iraq could exceed $700 billion.
Put simply, critics say, the war is not making the United States
safer and is harming U.S. taxpayers by saddling them with an enormous
debt burden, since the war is being financed with deficit spending.
One of the most vocal Republican critics has been Sen. Chuck Hagel of
Nebraska, who said the costs of the war -- many multiples greater
than what the White House had estimated in 2003 -- are throwing U.S.
fiscal priorities out of balance.
"It's dangerously irresponsible," Hagel said in February of the war
He later told U.S. News & World Report, "The White House is
completely disconnected from reality." He added that the apparent
lack of solid plans for defeating the insurgency and providing
stability in Iraq made it seem "like they're just making it up as
they go along."
The Democrats have also raised concerns about the apparent lack of an
exit strategy and the fast-rising costs, particularly since President
Bush has chosen to pay for the war with special supplemental
appropriations outside the normal budget process. Some Democrats have
insisted that, to cover war costs, the president should propose
comparable reductions in other government programs, in part to be
fiscally responsible and in part to make the price of the war more
"We are not going to be stinting in our support of our troops," said
Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., a senior member of both the Budget and
Armed Services committees. "The least we can do is make sure they
have everything they need to do the job. On the other hand, we need
to understand the long-term costs. We need to know it to make honest
"Are there trade-offs we can make to pay for this? We have to look at
that. This has been longer-lasting and more intense than anybody
Some conservative experts outside Congress also have started
questioning whether the war and its uncertain conclusion are worth
the cost, in money and blood.
"The objective has always been to install a friendly government,"
said Charles V. Pe?a, director of defense policy studies at the Cato
Institute in Washington, a libertarian think tank. "Are the costs
worth that? No, because it's not something we can accomplish for the
long term. It's just going to continue to drain the American
taxpayer. I don't see how it's going to get better. It's only going
to get worse."
James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow for national security and
homeland security at the Heritage Foundation, which supports the
president on most matters, warned that the war's costs would only
rise because of the growing need to repair and replace battered
military equipment, from helicopters to Humvees. In addition, the
rising death toll is making it harder for the military to recruit new
soldiers, and long deployments are hurting the morale of National
Guard and reserve units sent to Iraq.
If the White House does not increase military spending, Carafano
warned, the United States could end up with both a looming disaster
in Iraq and a weaker military.
"I don't think we're going to have enough money to run this military
based on what they're asking for," said Carafano. "If you don't
increase spending, you can hollow out the military."
He added that the war itself increasingly looks like a bad
investment: "I think there is a point of diminishing returns in Iraq.
There is a point where you're just throwing money at the problem.
Quite frankly, I think we're at the tipping point."
Since the shooting war in Iraq began in March, 2003, 1,763 U.S.
soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and at least 13,336 have been
wounded, according to data collected by the Iraq Index, which is
assembled by the Brookings Institution in Washington.
In September 2002, the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan
research arm of Congress, estimated that the war would cost $1.5
billion to $4 billion per month. In fact, it costs between $5 billion
and $8 billion per month.
The Pentagon says the "burn rate" -- the operating costs of the wars
-- has averaged $5.6 billion per month in the current fiscal year,
but that does not include some costs for maintenance and replacement
of equipment and some training and reconstruction costs, experts say.
According to an analysis by the Democratic staff of the House Budget
Committee, from the beginning of the war in March, 2003, through the
fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, the Bush administration has received
a total of $314 billion in special appropriations for the wars.
Unlike the Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1991, the U.S. has had to
bear nearly all this war's costs on its own. The Congressional
Research Service reported that, as of early June, 26 countries had
military forces in Iraq, but they make up a small fraction of the
U.S. troop levels, about 140, 000; another 11 countries have already
Just for the current fiscal year, the administration has received
$107 billion in special appropriations, about $87 billion of which is
directly related to military operations, according to the Center for
Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Most of the remainder has been
spent on training and equipping Iraqi forces.
U.S. taxpayers must also cover other costs. For instance, the United
States is spending $658 million to construct an embassy in Baghdad,
which, with initial operating costs, could bring the expense of this
super-secure facility to nearly $1.3 billion by the time it opens in
"Two years ago, no one expected the war would take this long," said
Steven Kosiak, director of budget studies at the Center for Strategic
and Budgetary Assessments. "On a per-troop basis, this war has been
far more costly than expected, almost double the estimates."
Edward Luttwak, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington and a former military consultant
to both Republican and Democratic administrations, said the
unexpectedly high costs show inappropriate military priorities in
Iraq. He said too much is being spent on operating high-tech
weaponry, such as jet fighters and naval battle groups, and not
enough on troops, which are best at fighting elusive insurgents. That
just further proves that the U.S. military, Luttwak said, is the best
on earth at fighting conventional wars, but one of the worst at
policing and counterinsurgencies.
For example, he noted that heavy Air Force fighters, such as the
F-15E, are being used for aerial reconnaissance, when cheaper
aircraft might work better. He questioned why a huge Navy battle
group, including an aircraft carrier, is stationed near Iraq, when it
offers little help in fighting a largely hidden insurgency in Iraq's
towns and cities.
"It's quite important to look at the costs of the war, quite apart
from counting the money, which is substantial," Luttwak said. "It is
a good way to assess what is going on. It's not worth the price of
what we're paying."
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