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Youssef writes: "Besides what Congress appropriated, the Pentagon spent an additional unknown amount from its $5.2 trillion base budget over that same period. According to a recent Brown University study, the wars and their ripple effects have cost the United States $3.7 trillion, or more than $12,000 per American."

An Afghan villager waits to be reimbursed for damage to his trees by US soldiers in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, 02/25/10. (photo: Pier Paolo Cito/AP)
An Afghan villager waits to be reimbursed for damage to his trees by US soldiers in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, 02/25/10. (photo: Pier Paolo Cito/AP)

True Cost of US Wars Unknown

By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

16 August 11


The Pentagon says it spends about $9.7 billion per month, but its cryptic accounting system hides the true price tag of the two wars. -- JPS/RSN


hen congressional cost-cutters meet later this year to decide on trimming the federal budget, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could represent juicy targets. But how much do the wars actually cost the US taxpayer?

Nobody really knows.

Yes, Congress has allotted $1.3 trillion for war spending through fiscal year 2011 just to the Defense Department. There are long Pentagon spreadsheets that outline how much of that was spent on personnel, transportation, fuel and other costs. In a recent speech, President Barack Obama assigned the wars a $1 trillion price tag.

But all those numbers are incomplete. Besides what Congress appropriated, the Pentagon spent an additional unknown amount from its $5.2 trillion base budget over that same period. According to a recent Brown University study, the wars and their ripple effects have cost the United States $3.7 trillion, or more than $12,000 per American.

Lawmakers remain sharply divided over the wisdom of slashing the military budget, even with the United States winding down two long conflicts, but there's also a more fundamental problem: It's almost impossible to pin down just what the US military spends on war.

To be sure, the costs are staggering.

According to Defense Department figures, by the end of April the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - including everything from personnel and equipment to training Iraqi and Afghan security forces and deploying intelligence-gathering drones - had cost an average of $9.7 billion a month, with roughly two-thirds going to Afghanistan. That total is roughly the entire annual budget for the Environmental Protection Agency.

To compare, it would take the State Department - with its annual budget of $27.4 billion - more than four months to spend that amount. NASA could have launched its final shuttle mission in July, which cost $1.5 billion, six times for what the Pentagon is allotted to spend each month in those two wars.

What about Medicare Part D, President George W. Bush's 2003 expansion of prescription drug benefits for seniors, which cost a Congressional Budget Office-estimated $385 billion over 10 years? The Pentagon spends that in Iraq and Afghanistan in about 40 months.

Because of the complex and often ambiguous Pentagon budgeting process, it's nearly impossible to get an accurate breakdown of every operating cost. Some funding comes out of the base budget; other money comes from supplemental appropriations.

But the estimates can be eye-popping, especially considering the logistical challenges to getting even the most basic equipment and comforts to troops in extremely forbidding terrain.

In Afghanistan, for example, the US military spent $1.5 billion to purchase 329.8 million gallons of fuel for vehicles, aircraft and generators from October 2010 to May 2011. That's a not-unheard-of $4.55 per gallon, but it doesn't include the cost of getting the fuel to combat zones and the human cost of transporting it through hostile areas, which can hike the cost to hundreds of dollars a gallon.

Just getting air-conditioning to troops in Afghanistan, including transport and maintenance, costs $20 billion per year, retired Brig. Gen. Steve Anderson told National Public Radio recently. That's half the amount that the federal government has spent on Amtrak over 40 years.

War spending falls behind tax cuts and prescription drug benefits for seniors as contributors to the $14.3 trillion federal debt. The Pentagon's base budget has grown every year for the past 14 years, marking the longest sustained growth period in US history, but it seems clear that that era is ending.

Since the US government issued war bonds to help finance World War II, Washington has asked taxpayers to shoulder less and less of a burden in times of conflict. In the early 1950s Congress raised taxes by 4 percent of the gross domestic product to pay for the Korean War; in 1968, during the Vietnam War, a tax was imposed to raise revenue by about 1 percent of GDP.

No such mechanism was imposed for Iraq or Afghanistan, and in the early years of the wars Congress didn't even demand a true accounting of war spending, giving the military whatever it needed. Now, at a time of fiscal woes and with the American public weary of the wars, the question has become how much the nation's largest bureaucracy should cut.

"The debt crisis has been a game changer in terms of defense spending," said Laura Peterson, a national security analyst at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan budget watchdog.

"It used to be that asking how much the wars cost was unpatriotic. The attitude going into the war is you spend whatever you cost. Now maybe asking is more patriotic."

Still, deep cuts to the Pentagon remain unpalatable to many lawmakers. The debt limit deal that Congress passed earlier this month calls for $350 billion in "defense and security" spending cuts through 2024, but that's expected to be spread across several government agencies, sparing the Pentagon much of the blow.

However, if the 12-member bipartisan "super-committee" of lawmakers can't agree on further federal budget cuts later this year, the law mandates across-the-board cuts of $1.2 trillion over 10 years, with half of that coming from the Pentagon. The prospect of such deep defense cuts is thought to provide a strong incentive for deficit hawks to compromise and spread the pain more broadly.

Politics aside, finding defense savings is complex, even with the Obama administration trying to wind down two wars. For one thing, reducing troop levels doesn't necessarily yield commensurate cost reductions, given the huge amount of infrastructure the military still maintains in each country.

In Afghanistan, the cost per service member climbed from $507,000 in fiscal year 2009 to $667,000 the following year, according to the Congressional Research Service. Fiscal year 2011 costs are expected to reach $694,000 per service member, even as the US military begins drawing down 33,000 of the 99,000 troops there.

In Iraq, even with the overall costs of the war declining and the US military scheduled to withdraw its remaining 46,000 troops by the end of this year, the cost per service member spiked from $510,000 in 2007 to $802,000 this year.

In fiscal year 2011, Congress authorized $113 billion for the war in Afghanistan and $46 billion for Iraq. The Pentagon's 2012 budget request is lower: $107 billion for Afghanistan and $11 billion for Iraq.

In the more austere fiscal climate, the Pentagon has tried to be proactive, proposing cuts to some major military programs such as the controversial and hugely expensive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called the national debt the biggest threat to US national security. Before leaving office last month as defense secretary, Robert Gates ordered his department to find ways to cut $400 billion from the defense budget over 12 years, under Obama's orders.

Among the challenges of determining the costs of war is defining what to include. Rising health care costs for veterans? The damage done to Iraqi and Afghan families, cities and institutions? Holding tens of thousands of detainees at US military prisons in those two countries and others around the world? The massive interest on war-related debt, which some experts say could reach $1 trillion by 2020?

"The ripple effects on the US economy have also been significant, including job loss and interest rate increases, and those effects have been underappreciated," wrote a team of Brown University experts who authored a June report called "Costs of War."

Critics of the defense budget process note that the US already has paid a heavy cost for the wars, spending billions to wind up with older equipment and troops receiving less training.

Winslow Wheeler, who worked on national security issues on Capitol Hill for 30 years, said the Navy and Air Force fleets were smaller after a decade of war. The Army has been left with run-down, overworked vehicles and equipment.

"The danger of that is that as we blithely go on not paying attention, things happen that we don't notice, like the older, less trained forces," Wheeler said. Because the cost of replacing equipment has risen dramatically over the past decade, "what we are paying is a higher cost for a smaller force." He likened it to replacing a Lamborghini with a Volkswagen.

On the Web:

Brown University's Costs of War project

CRS: Cost of the global war on terrorism since 9/11 your social media marketing partner


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Remember that making the world better begins with responsible action.

- The RSN Team

+40 # pjbrunner 2011-08-16 14:11
So in other words, 25 percent of the entire national debt is attributable to these two wars. Incredible!
+32 # radil 2011-08-16 16:28
Over 90% of the total debt accumulated since 1916 is due to all our wars.
+22 # Rita Walpole Ague 2011-08-16 19:27
And guess the name of the family who has profited beyond belief from both oil, oil oil, and war, war, war since WWI.

I'll give you a hint: rhymes with tush.
+5 # Carbonman1950 2011-08-17 00:07
Quoting pjbrunner:
So in other words, 25 percent of the entire national debt is attributable to these two wars. Incredible!

By some accountings, if you include interest on the portion of the national attributable to military spending, military pension and post-service medical expense, and all the other military expenditures larded into other non-military portions of the federal budget, military spending absorbs more than 50% of the annual federal budget. Visit for one version of that view.
+5 # Capn Canard 2011-08-17 09:50
That 50% was the number I heard way back in college. I am not surprised that it hasn't changed. This is why the profit motive is a truly a horrible incentive for true "economic" growth. The profit motive doesn't account for things like human death, destruction of habitat, villages, culture, environment or any type of long term sustainability both economic or ecological or cultural. It is extremely short sighted and extremely egomaniacal.
+9 # NanFan 2011-08-17 03:17
I want my money back! I want my $12,000, because I do not condone these or any wars. I protested Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I voted for people in Congress who voted against these illegal "invasions."

I want my money back!!

+1 # CommonSense 2011-08-22 07:02
Its not incredible.
Its par for the (early) Modern course, for those into history.
The PRIVATE CENTAL BANK CARTEL, since the days of Adam 'the invisible hand' Smith, has worked, and conspired (but pls. don't say "labored"- these people think for a living) to perpetuate their own dominance of ALL western nation's monetary/curren cy systems, largely (among other strategies) by means of the military-indust rial-complex, perpetual wars & sky-high 'public' debt, payable of course, mostly to themselves- the intellectual creators of the trick/system.

Today's 'public' debt in USA is not substantially different from 18th century Britian's... Same (old) game; slightly different (new) place.
+37 # fredboy 2011-08-16 14:15
A 10 year war, an 8 year invasion, and messy accounting.
And what happened to the USSR after it tried to conquer Afghanistan?
+25 # Virginia 2011-08-16 16:57
Anybody doubt this was on the backs and sacrifice of the America homeowners? President Eisenhower warned against the "military industrial complex" - ultimately it is the trifecta of military, industrial and financial that have done us in... I can hear the conversation now..."ramp it up, we need war money - what better way than to scam the homeowners out of every dime and then sell it to investors - since they won't support or donate to our wars..." $600 Trillion and they still can't win the wars.
+34 # maddave 2011-08-16 15:06
In this piece, it wasn't until the last couple od paragraphs that the specter of worn, used up and obsolete equipment was even mentioned. We went into Iraq & Afghanistan with a well equipped Army, Navy & Air Force, and now, here we come out with our war-fighting equipment beat all to hell. A major part of todays equipment is beyond economical repair/rehab and will be, most likely, abandoned where it sits today! Consequently, if we want to regain our pre-Iraq/Afghan istan military capabilities, the cost will be astronomical. Given no other foreign wars or police actions for the next decade-or-two, we still will not be out from under the HIDDEN costs of this senseless adventure.
+16 # GeeRob 2011-08-16 17:31
We did NOT go into Iraq with a well-equipped Army. U.S. soldiers were dumpster diving for armor. Remember when a soldier asked Rumsfeld about their lack of protection and Rummy replied "You go to war with the army you have..."?
+13 # cadan 2011-08-16 18:41
I think maddave's remark is very important.

Our military is much worse off today than 10 years ago. And not just in terms of hardware worn out during our pointless wars.

Officers' training has also been sacrificed.

It used to be that our Air Force officers would get a chance to study subjects like foreign affairs in places like Georgetown. This provides so many benefits, from greater integration of our officers into our society, to just having a more professional and well rounded corps. But this sort of thing is being drastically curtailed due to the expenses of our wars.

So we are descending into banana republichood in more than one way.

I think that no matter what you think our role in the world should be, these pointless crusades against Moslems and Arabs are the wrong way to go about it.

Nobody, no matter how conservative or how liberal, should support our crusades. It does not benefit our people, our military, our standing, and certainly not our victims.
+8 # Carole 2011-08-17 06:08
In Iraq, even with the overall costs of the war declining and the US military scheduled to withdraw its remaining 46,000 troops by the end of this year, the cost per service member spiked from $510,000 in 2007 to $802,000 this year.

These figures take military spending and divide it by the number of troops we have. Total stupidity.

It is CONTRACTING that eats the money. In the past 8 years, most of the billions of dollars have gone to military contractors, who do less than the troops, and make sometimes 50 times the money, and to contractors tasked with fulfilling the unrealistic demands of the "combatant commanders". The proof is in the pudding--nothin g worthwhile except protection against IEDs has been produced.
+26 # hms 2011-08-16 15:14
Congrads on this piece. Since the average American can't compute such figures because they are so massive, what you did in the introduction is give the figure of $12,000 per taxpayer. Now that is something the average American can understand. And I can't understand why such figures per citizen taxpayer are not used for all the items we are paying for--everywhere!

This $12,000 figure should be pasted on billboards nationwide and run on t.v. too. Let us all understand how much and what we are paying for!
+22 # angelfish 2011-08-16 15:22
The money that this Country has PI**ED away, MOSTLY under Bush's Watch, then bequeathed to Obama, could have, in ALL likely-hood, maintained Clinton's Surplus, funded a DECENT, single Payer Option Health-Care Program for Americans and kept us on an even Financial Keel! Sadly, the Republican Party has been over-run with HARD Right-Wing Ideologues and Fascists who serve ONLY their Wealthy Handlers. No longer Republicans, they are now the K.N.F.P (Koch/Norquist Fascist Party)! Hopefully, they will be given their walking papers on Election Day 2012!
+3 # Capn Canard 2011-08-17 09:56
angelfish, nice. Of course this is power and control run amok. Like the crazy Id on a jagg with a GOP Tea party pushing and a retarded group of Dems laying down there is no counter balancing force to the wanton dismantling of the middle class and GOOD SENSE.
+1 # GeeRob 2011-08-17 12:20
Capn, please leave the word 'retarded' out of your comments. It's insulting to the many people of the world with Downs Syndrome and their families and friends.
0 # Texas Aggie 2011-08-17 19:14
Well, the projections at the beginning of Shrub's term were that we would be completely out of debt by this time if we didn't do anything to change the economic trajectory. You may have noticed that Shrub started two wars and did a bunch of tax cuts that sort of wrecked havoc with the projections.
+36 # America 2011-08-16 15:22
Of course the cost is known.

The incredible committment of resources to a lost cause and our inability to escape from it.

The destruction of the US economy

Loss of world-wide credibilty

High unemployment

Collapse of the housing market

Massive loss of human lives

Just add it all up. The cost goes much further than just dollars and cents.
+8 # NanFan 2011-08-17 05:31
Quoting America:
Of course the cost is known.

The incredible committment of resources to a lost cause and our inability to escape from it.

The destruction of the US economy

Loss of world-wide credibilty

High unemployment

Collapse of the housing market

Massive loss of human lives

Just add it all up. The cost goes much further than just dollars and cents.

And Bush/Cheney and cronies have been given immunity from prosecution by the US government for these crimes!

I say, arrest the bums. Do a Brattleboro, VT, and pass a law that says if Bush or Cheney even step a TOE into their city, they will be arrested for their crimes against the US, humanity, and the planet!

We sit in their quagmire of hate and greed, while they bask in their fortunes.

I truly hope there IS a payback day for them, even if it comes via the International Court.

+15 # AML 2011-08-16 15:38
Why don't they distinguish the 'military budget' from the 'defense budget'?

When the procurement of a hammer is $200., I'm thinking I'd love to sell hammers to the military...
+11 # mrbadexample 2011-08-16 16:02
The costs are extremely hard to break down but $12K per family probably isn't close. The Gulf War was fought 'on the cheap' except that now a third of the troops that were in-theatre are on disability from exposure to DU or the poison gas residues. Once all the PTSD and TBI/SCI injuries are totaled from these two wars, there's well over a hundred thousand vets who'll be on some form of disability for life--and the costs will be dispersed for the Section 8 and WIC and child support their families are entitled to.
+14 # in deo veritas 2011-08-16 16:11
We should start by DEMANDING that everyu one of the a-holes in Congress who voted for these fiascos cough up $12000 out of their pocket change to help pay for them. It wouldn't hurt them a bit! What would really hurt is voting them out of office since we won't put them in prison where they should be.
+17 # janutb 2011-08-16 16:24
Add to that, Bush never paid for the wars, he borrowed from China. We are now paying 'interest' on top of the actual war debt. What is the total after interest?
+19 # Isar 2011-08-16 16:28
For shame--for shame--for shame. How can Obama justify staying in Afghanistan and Iraq, spending all that money that we need back home? Yes, Bush-baby started it because War is Big Business...Chen ey's company made millions...Reme mber-"Guns and Butter"...Howev er, in today's world, there is no excuse for this kind of thinking....the thinking that old men send young men to die in foreign lands for causes that make no sense. The Taliban in Afghanistan don't want us in their part of the world. IF we would leave, they would forget about terrorizing us. Pakistan doesn't want us either, and as we learned, they were willing to hide Osama Bin Laden!@!!...and look at the money we have given them. We are being played for fools....but IF WE BRING THE TROOPS HOME...we jsut gotta find another war....because the Pentagon has to keep the money flowing into it's budget....LOTS OF BIG money goes into the Pentagon....Lot s of Big People live very well on that money. Think of the Pentagon as the Largest Corporation in America....and they don't pay ANY taxes!!! Shame on us. We are in the 21st century fighting the same kind of wars we fought in the 20th century. Young American men and women are still dying--NOT to PROTECT THIS COUNTRY....but to feed the monster--the Pentagon Monster. For shame--for shame--for shame. We refuse to learn from history and continue to repeat our mistakes.
+14 # MEBrowning 2011-08-16 16:28
There's our economic nightmare in a nutshell. Just think what a booming economy we might have had if the feds had simply given every American $12,000.
+13 # Regina 2011-08-16 16:36
And let's not forget the pork of obsolete equipment the Pentagon no longer needs or wants, but it feeds a Congress member's obligations for election campaign support. Nobody is calculating the cumulative cost of every quid pro quo.
+12 # ABen 2011-08-16 17:30
As a nation, we really need to have the "guns vs butter" debate again. Also, we need to drive a stake through the heart of the Bush/Cheney doctrine of preemptive war!
+10 # jwb110 2011-08-16 17:45
I seem to remember troops complaining, one specifically to Rumsfeld at a press conference, that the force was under fully armed when the war started. No armored vehicles, no flack-jackets, not enough helmets, etc.
+5 # giraffee2012 2011-08-16 17:55

Ecuador police to take lie detector test.

Each person in W.H. and Congress should take lie detector tests -- so we can figure out HOW much $$ they know went to what/who
In fact, we know when they say "my constutients" want blah blah -- is not true -- those who funded their elections demand "what they say the people want" -- THE PEOPLE want jobs, their homes, and equal tax for all.

NO elected person who tries to legislate law on a religious basis is OUT -- we have a constitution and it is not the bible of any religion.

I want an accounting of ALL those (70K) checks the government sends each month.

If a company makes their goods in a foreign country (jobs overseas is becoming epidemic) -- they MUST pay a tarif tax to sell product in USA. This might equalize their choice to keep their $$ off shore to dodge taxes.

This article is not a surprise -- but brings up what the 12 specials must consider: Bring everyone into a medicare system - along with some of the CORRECT parts of the Heaalth Care Reform.,

Vote 2012 -- get the RepugNUTS out -- Register now and get mail-in ballots (deliver them to the polling both on election day and make sure they are put into the slot with machine votes)
+7 # JohnLoth 2011-08-16 18:29
I'll bet Osama bin Laden is up in Muslim Heaven with his 72 virgins just laughing his ass off.

How would he say MISSON ACCOMPLISHED in Arabic?
+5 # margpark 2011-08-16 18:49
Of course those wars are costing trillions. These endless wars have put us in the awful (except for the rich) financial situation we are in. And we still are not taking good care of our wounded veterans.
I am starting to loose hope for any sense in our government.
+15 # jtom 2011-08-16 19:07
Osama bin Laden told us years ago he didn't need to fighty us he would just bankrupt us. He won didn't he.
+9 # giraffee2012 2011-08-16 19:16
Quoting jtom:
Osama bin Laden told us years ago he didn't need to fighty us he would just bankrupt us. He won didn't he.

Norquist must be in bed with Al Quaeda + GOP/TP in bed with Norquist --

The GOP now says Obama's fault for no jobs when GOP has not allowed one JOB CREATION bill to be in front of Congress. And the GOP/TP says Obama has a spending problem - when the CONGRESS HOLDS THE PURSE!

Something is wrong with media that they allow these people to talk - none give facts/figures.

I'll go for a run and hope I sweat out all my anger!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!
+4 # Sallyport 2011-08-16 20:16
The Pentagon cannily protects its provisioning by ensuring that its many contracts get spread around the country into as many regions (& congressional districts) as possible, so that any time a program is scheduled to be struck off, congress comes to the rescue. This way the Pentagon gets credit for being willing to cut back but at the same time gets to keep everything in perpetuity. What we need is a re-commissioned Pentagon devoted to peace making, infrastructure building & maintenance, and support of education. A lot of this work would go to contractors as before. Homeland security (renamed, of course, to something sounding indigenous to the US) could be redirected to public and workplace safety, & protection of the food supply, among other things. A small standing army technologically well-equipped would round out this enterprise.
+6 # Roy 2011-08-16 20:30
Soon the military retirees may likely be under a 401k system managed by the Wall Street boys. Watch out folks because the federal cuts will be coming and pointed directly at the American people's SS, medicare, and military retiree benefits. Congress will of course have their own retirement and medical system apart from the 401k or medicare. The political foxes will be guarding their nests during these coming federal cuts.
+4 # pierre 2011-08-16 22:04
And the Oligarchs and their minions are laughing all the way to the bank while AmeriKa remains dumbed down and fearsome/cluele ss. What a concept!
+3 # Activista 2011-08-16 22:16
There is NO WAY that we can recover with present MILITARISTIC policies.
Likely it is too late even IF we stop ALL the WARS next 24 hours.
And populist Obama believes ... what a joke.
Is there ONE rational being in Washington DC?
+5 # shesap 2011-08-16 22:18
Never thought I'd say it but I long for the good old days when wars were fought for the freedom and protection of our country not to put money into the pockets of America's rich. Bring our troops home and let's put that money into infrastructure!
+2 # Glen 2011-08-17 16:40
When was that, shesap? Profit has always been a motive in U.S. attacks on countries. Check out WWII, and probably WWI, and who profited from those attacks. The rah rah, support of war is a disgrace, and rarely for the protection of the country.

What is lacking is a true education for our students so that they would know the truth.
+4 # Carbonman1950 2011-08-17 00:12
On the day we invaded Afghanistan my 80 year old mother said "D.H. Lawrence warned us about getting involved in that area. Now we will be there for a hundred years."
0 # Activista 2011-08-17 20:04
Quoting Carbonman1950:
On the day we invaded Afghanistan my 80 year old mother said "D.H. Lawrence warned us about getting involved in that area. Now we will be there for a hundred years."

Within 5 years we will be NOT there - bankrupted USA will be worse than CCCP in 1989.
+2 # sabiha1 2011-08-17 00:35
Look at the emblem of the US. One olive branch held in one claw and a quiver of 13 arrows in the other!! War will always be a way of life with the establishment of this country until the whole great country unravels. And moral downgradation added to the ultimate cost of war. Remember the photographs of young soldiers killing civilian kids and cutting off their pinkies as souvenirs!
+6 # SOF 2011-08-17 00:35
Military/Indust rial complex? Chaney was Halliburton.....
Chaney and Bush both oilmen... I remember that Bush announced the war could wind down about a week after the 'benchnmark' to divide Iraq's oil. We thought that meant Sunni, Shi'a, and Kurd. But it was BP, Shell? a Dutch oil co. and ?? Still looking for that info. And where are the media stories about it?
OSB won like he said he would.
And if they won't tax for war, they won't tax for keeping newly poor American's alive. We are either screwed or on the verge of revolution. Fat chance since we no longer have rights or even free speach, much less an informed populace. And there are all those private jails now.... We're screwed.
0 # Glen 2011-08-17 16:46
Nicely said, SOF, except for the comment on Osama bin Laden. He had nothing to do with the downfall of the U.S. The U.S. government did that to the country.

The government should be warned to not tax for war or we will have a revolution for sure. Privatization is a real consideration and than you for keeping us on that subject.
+5 # Habib Khan 2011-08-17 01:51
“Preemptive” War (Iraq) and a war for wanting one individual (Afghanistan) will probably be written in the History as the reason of the collapse of the Capitalist system.
The Communist system (Soviet Union) collapse came after the adventure in Afghanistan.
We do not seem to learn from History.
+3 # rf 2011-08-17 06:07
How many hundreds of thousands could we have given every man, woman, and child in afganistan and iraq with all of this money? Problem would have been solved with a marshal plan solution rather than the pharmaceutical solution!
+3 # boudreaux 2011-08-17 08:26
No accountablity aagin, no one seems to know shit about this money, it is no wonder that we are in the debt that we are in. If they would just stop all of this war shit like people want them to, we could pay off the deficit in no time...It could have been paid off years ago.....all down the drain and still going......
+1 # Nick Gallup 2011-08-17 12:04
No one has even mentioned how much the 15,000 killed has cost us. Each family of a KIA is given $100,000. That's $1.5 billion. And don't forget to factor in the costs of recovering the bodies, packing them in body bags filled with ice, and then flying them to Delaware. Estimated cost - about $10,000 per KIA, or $150 million. At Delaware the bodies are embalmed, cleaned up, cosmetics applied (a thoughtful gesture,just in case the widows or parents want to take a last look,) fitted into a military dress uniform, placed into a government furnished coffin, and then flown to the survivors , where they are buried at government expense in a national cemetary. Estimated cost - about $50,000 per KIA, or another $750 million. Oh, the flag, you know the one presented to the widow or parents, that only amounts to a million dollars or so. Forget that, but lets not forget that we, in many cases, have to pay survivors' pensions. There's another big cost. Figure half of the KIAs' survivors are entitled to a pension averaging $20,000 per annum, with a survivor life expectancy of 50 years. Cost to taxpayers for that alone - about $7.5 billion dollars. Grand total - just over $10 billion. Damn, we could buy three aircraft carrier for that! Now, consider the cost of our wounded. Aw, forget that. You get the picture.
+1 # holdcraftm 2011-08-17 23:28
One correction to your article. You mention the DoD Budgeting System can't account for all the costs of these wars. That is incorrect. The Budgeting system was never designed to account for DoD expenses. The system you should be citing is the DoD accounting system. That is the system that account for all costs within DoD, not the Budgeting System. They are separate systems and that is one reason why no one can ever figure out where all the money actually goes. I know, I spent 4 years in the Pentagon in the Budgeting System for the USAF trying to figure out why the two systems never were coordinated to properly report expenses, so we could use that baseline to accomplish our annual budgets. The Budgeting system is centered in the Pentagon, the finance system is centered in Denver, Colorado and several other locations by each Armed Service.
+1 # reiverpacific 2011-08-19 08:33
"holdcraftm" Thanks very much for that valuable information. It's good to get this sort of data from an informed source, and thanks to RSN for making it possible to get such revealing words out to we of the "lower 95".
No way would this be reported on mainstream.
+1 # reiverpacific 2011-08-18 08:53
And this is only the stuff that can be accounted for!
What about the "Missing Billions" in Iraq and Afghanistan? And the "No-Bid" contracts? And the biggest Embassy n the world in Baghdad which can be seen from space (if they were supposed to be even considering leaving)? And the "Black Budget" (CIA, surveillance, assassinations and now renditions worldwide) which is not even accountable to Congress nor the president but which is apparently almost 0.5 of the total "official" defense (Ha, ha!) budget. And THAT'S just recent.
Oh yes -and throw in the recent recruitment and use of "Private security firms", many made up of the scum of the earth from death squads and banana republic police.
As General Smedly Butler put it in his book of the same name "War is just a Racket" and the old "Fighting Quaker" should know this better than anybody.
+4 # old man 2011-08-18 15:36
These wars would be over if we would have re-instated the draft.
You don't fined wealthy people signing up to go to the middle east to fight, only people that need to feed their families.
End these wars now, put these people to work on our decaying infrastructure.
+1 # Don Thomann 2011-08-22 12:08
Take note, the "terrorists" knew all along that a nation's mania for "security" would destroy that nation!
Take note, the military-indust rial complex knew all along that a nation's mania for "security" would fill their coffers!
And, they were both right!
Why don't Americans see it? Duh!

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