Archive for cost of war

Kerry Tells Congress That Oil Sheiks Will Pay US for War to Unseat Assad

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red line syria

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

In a rare moment of diplomatic candor, US Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressional hearing Wednesday that oil sheiks have offered to pay the United States to unseat Bashar al-Assad as Syrian strong man.  [...]

Apparently trying to assuage concerns about billions and billions of taxpayer dollars financing a "punishment strike" that most legislators know in their guts is the opening salvo in another Libyan style war of degrading the Syrian military (while untold numbers of civilians are also killed in the process), Kerry, according to The Washington Post, revealed more than he probably meant to [...]

“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.” [...]

“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done."

The conundrum for Kerry is that you can't say "nobody's talking about it" when you've just said that an offer is on the table in case the Syrian conflict becomes a full-fledged Libyan style regime replacement operation. [...]

The only thing that has been stopping the US up until now from dislodging Assad is that the Syrian rebels are split among many different ideological groups, with the most powerful segment perhaps being Al-Qaeda or Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers.  So if Assad is overthrown, it could open the way for a pro-Iranian Islamic fundamentalist government.  [...]

So what's the end game?  That's the question that has everyone scratching their heads in Washington.  If Obama is authorized to strike Syria to punish Assad and the military for an alleged chemical attack, what will be the targets?  They can't be the chemical weapons themselves because that would cause a disbursement that would probably kill tens of thousands of civilians.

What could the US military do that would actually deter the Syrian army from using chemical weapons, if they were the ones that actually did?  And what would prevent the "radical" Islamic forces from seizing the chemical weapons (the largest stockpile in the world, according to President Obama) amidst the chaos created by a "shock and awe" attack.  Then who might the chemical weapons be used against, us?

So much for protecting Americans.

Please read the entire post here.

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Five alternative policies the U.S. could’ve pursued with money that has been spent on wars

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The world's top 7 largest military budgets in 2010. Figures sourced from SIPRI

As we're (sort of) winding down our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as we argue about how much money could be saved if our troops weren't stationed all over the globe, as we find ourselves in very scary economic times, "using NPP metrics, ThinkProgress has assembled ten alternative policies that the United States could’ve pursued instead with this money that has been spent on the wars so far."

I'll give you five of them, but then you have to link over to Think Progress for the rest of the list and their post:

– Give 23.6 Million People Access To Low-Income Healthcare Every Year For Ten Years

– Provide 20.68 Million Students With Pell Grants Worth $5,500 Every Year For Ten Years

– Provide Veterans Administration Care For 14.7 Million Military Veterans Every Year For Ten Years

– Hire 2.01 Million Firefighters Every Year For Ten Years

– Hire 1.73 Million Police Officers Every Year For Ten Years [...]

The human costs are much more difficult to calculate...

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Brave New Foundation: How to cut billions in war spending

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Posted with permission. Read their Alternet post here.

Our nation's obsession with militarism is tearing us apart. Our loved ones return in coffins or with trauma from wars and other military operations. Wasted resources on war and weapons means fewer jobs. War industry executives get rich from lucrative contracts at our expense. Our bloated war budget and military empire are wrecking our country and hurting others around the world.

The congressional commission created by the debt ceiling deal (as painful as it was) provides a major opportunity, so we're working overtime to launch a new campaign, War Costs, to push for real cuts to war spending. The debt deal makes possible around $1 trillion in war spending cuts over 10 years. These cuts can help save our economy, but military contractors plan to dump lobbying and campaign money on committee members to protect their profits. In fact, committee members have already taken around $1 million from the companies since 2007. To counter them, we must:

1.    Demand that committee members fully disclose any meetings held with military contractors and that they stop taking financial contributions from these companies as long as they serve on the committee. Please sign our petition to congressional leaders on this topic.

2.    Expose military contractors' spokespeople and false information as the committee is pressured on possible cuts.

Then, we'll expand our campaign. We'll document the massive war spending, mayhem caused by pursuit of empire, and the racket run by big military contractors to keep the spending going. We'll also focus on how to stop it.

You stood with us on other critical issues--fake journalism at FOX News, the ugly truth about WalMart, rethinking the Afghanistan War. We need you with us again to show Washington, D.C. that lobbyists aren't the only ones who can apply pressure.

Please be a leader for change by visiting WarCosts.com to sign our petition. You can also sign up to participate in our future actions in the fight against the war industry and their allies who are profiting at the people’s expense.  This is time sensitive, so please join today.

Sincerely,

Derrick Crowe, Robert Greenwald
and the Brave New Foundation team

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Harry Reid Changes The Game on Iraq

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Imagine how much money (and how many lives) this country could save if we ended the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. And Pakistan. And Libya. And...

Well, let's start with Iraq.

Via VetVoice:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - the President's top ally in the Senate - came out forcefully today against a continued American presence in Iraq, which most observers believe President Obama is for. Senator Reid said, according to the Associated Press, "As Iraq becomes increasingly capable, it is time for our own troops to return home by the end of the year and for these precious resources to be directed elsewhere. There is no question that the United States must continue to provide support for the Iraqis as they progress, but now is the time for our military mission to come to a close."

The effect of Senator Reid's statement on the debate cannot be understated. What had seemed to be a non-issue to many is now a debate with the leader of the President's own party in the Senate issuing the President a strong warning. Reid's words open the door for other Democrats to come out against our troops staying in Iraq past our Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) deadline.

Please go to their site to read the whole thing. More from the Associated Press:

It was the first public statement by a top party leader to oppose Obama's policy in Iraq, and may signal splintering Democratic support over his war planning just as he ramps up his 2012 re-election campaign.

I'm hearing from many Dems in many personal conversations, tweets, and chat forums, that they, too, are splintering over this and over a whole lot more. It will be interesting to see if the president is listening, and more interesting to see if he'll do more to regain the support from a base that appears to be slipping away.

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VIDEO ADDED: Libya costs vs. Iraq and Afghanistan

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First Read has a few numbers for us. They're explained more fully here.

The U.S. military operation in Libya:  $550 million through March 28. On a per diem basis, that would average out to about $55 million a day and should be approximately $40 million over the next three weeks, or less than $2 million a day.

The Afghan War: Averages out to more than $300 million per day.

The Iraq War: About $383 million a day.

Anyone have a figure on what we're spending on the poverty-stricken, unemployed,  homeless and hungry here in the U.S. of A.?

UPDATE: Of course, the always brilliant Sarah Palin exaggerates the Libya costs by 700%:

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The cost of the wars will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion

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Nobel Prize recipient Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard budget guru Linda J. Bilmes revised their original $3 trillion war cost estimate. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are at least 25 percent costlier than previous projections.

Gee, who could have seen that coming?

Taking new numbers into account, however, we now believe that our initial estimate was far too conservative—the cost of the wars will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion [...] The Bush administration not only vastly underestimated the cost of the wars but cut taxes twice—in 2001 and 2003—just as we were ramping up the war effort. This was the first time in U.S. history that a government cut taxes while also appropriating huge new sums to fight a war. And the consequence is that the wars added substantially to the federal debt. [...]

Between 2003 and 2008—before the financial crisis unfolded—the debt rose from $6.4 trillion to $10 trillion, and, at least one-quarter of this increase was directly attributable to the wars, first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan. [...]

Hundreds of thousands of veterans have already been treated in VA medical facilities; and many will require care for the rest of their lives. Half-a-million people plus have filed for disability compensation. And the total lifetime cost of providing for these veterans is likely to tally between $600 billion and $900 billion, as mentioned above. But of course, even these huge numbers don't include the economic costs that are borne by veterans and their families, in terms of diminished quality of life, lost employment and long-term suffering. We will also to need to find billions of dollars to replace vehicles, weapons and other equipment that will never be repatriated.

Hey, stop me if you've heard this one: A dim bulb president [sic] doesn't include the cost of two wars in his budget. Isn't that a knee-slapper?

But it's all Obama's fault.

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The cost of perpetual war

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This was sent to me by my Twitter pal d_klein3.

Imagine what we could do with all, or even some, of the money spent on killing people.

Happy Sunday.

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