Friday, February 02, 2007

$245 billion more

That's what the administration wants for Iraq and Afghanistan in the next two years: $100 billion for the rest of 2007 (on top of $70 billion already approved) and $145 billion in 2008. Plans call for an appropriation of $50 billion in 2009, and none after that when the hope is we will have withdrawn.

Add that $295 billion to the $378 billion already appropriated for Iraq and at least $70 billion for Afghanistan, and it brings the total cost of the two wars to nearly $800 billion -- more expensive than Vietnam even on an inflation-adjusted basis. Never mind the indirect costs, or the long-term costs for things like health care for veterans, which added in would bring the total cost into the $2 trillion to $3 trillion range.

The Afghan expenditures I have no quarrel with. The Iraq expenses, which account for the bulk of the money, represent an incredible amount of forgone opportunities in order to pursue an unnecessary war.

Speaking of which, the latest NIE makes clear that prospects for success are daunting.

Iraqi leaders will be hard pressed to achieve sustained political reconciliation in the next year to year and a half, a collaborative report by 16 U.S. spy agencies says, raising uncertainty about the prospect for withdrawing American troops that are shoring up the government.

Months in the making, the assessment says that growing and entrenched polarization between Shia and Sunni Muslims, inadequate Iraqi security forces, weak leaders, and the success of extremists' efforts to use violence to exacerbate the sectarian war all create a situation that will be difficult to improve.

One key point it makes is that Iraqi security forces are unlikely to be ready to take over responsibility for security in the next 12 to 18 months -- raising the question of what happens to the benchmarks we've told Iraq to meet, and how long we're willing to hold their hand.

And while it accuses Iran of meddling, it also says Iraq's neighbors are not "major drivers" of violence, nor are they likely to be -- largely because Iraqis are more than capable of generating plenty of violence on their own.

There is one hopeful section:

The estimate said some positive developments could — analysts stressed "could" — help reverse negative trends. They include broader acceptance of the Sunni minority of the central government and concessions on the part of Shiites and Kurds to make more room for Sunni participation.

This would be more hopeful if the first part of the report didn't assess the likelihood of any of that happening as very small.

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Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

Your post has some excellent points. Here's some additional data:

The U.S. Department of Defense, headquartered in the Pentagon, is one of the most massive organizations on the planet, with net annual operating costs of $635 billion, assets worth $1.3 trillion, liabilities of $1.9 trillion and more that 2.9 million military and civilian personnel as of fiscal year 2005.

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

It is difficult to convey the complexity of the way DOD works to someone who has not experienced it. This is a massive machine with so many departments and so much beaurocracy that no president, including Bush totally understands it.

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exhorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years.

What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.

Please examine the following link to testimony given by Franklin C. Spinney before Congress in 2002. It provides very specific information from a whistle blower who is still blowing his whistle (Look him up in your browser and you get lots of feedback) Frank spent the same amount of time as I did in the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) but in government quarters. His job in government was a similar role to mine in defense companies. Frank's emphasis in this testimony is on the money the machine costs us. It is compelling and it is noteworthy that he was still a staff analyst at the Pentagon when he gave this speech. I still can't figure out how he got his superior's permission to say such blunt things. He was extremely highly respected and is now retired.

The brick wall I often refer to is the Pentagon's own arrogance. It will implode by it's own volition, go broke, or so drastically let down the American people that it will fall in shambles. Rest assured the day of the implosion is coming. The machine is out of control.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting on this blog entitled, "Odyssey of Armaments"

On the same subject, you may also be interested in the following sites from the "Project On Government Oversight", observing it's 25th Anniversary and from "Defense In the National Interest", inspired by Franklin Spinney and contributed to by active/reserve, former, or retired military personnel. More facts on the Military Industrial Complex can be gleaned from "The Dissident" link, also posted below:

2/02/2007 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you have "no quarrel with the Afghan expenditures?"

And as far as the new NIE report----would that be the same NIE that gave us the reports just before the war that Iraq had stockpiles of wmd? And we're to totally trust their reporting now????


2/02/2007 9:39 PM  
Blogger Maxtrue said...

Sean, good points. Money does make the Pentagon go round. It irks me that the EU hasn't really helped in Afghanistan or Iraq much (save the few). Given their desire for acclaim, China and Russia don't contribute much to peacekeeping duties or aid rebuilding except as a hold on a market a la Sudan etc.

I think the NIE reads fairly which is why the rush for a 6 - 12 month window by Democrats is unrealistic. After all this blood would you pull the plug in one more year? Even if there were real signs of hope? I agree that we should try to keep the numbers of deployed as low as sufficient, but Gates and Fallon working with Petraeous should be deciding that. Notice how I leave out Bush? I am sure we both agree this has been a huge and unnecessary bleed of money apart from removing Saddam. That cost only 20 billion.

As I said, it troubles me that we accept the lack of help in Afghanistan and the meager euros of support in Iraq. Since we are not in the Middle East for American Domination, why don't our allies help pay for our deployment? While I sometimes feel like saying “screw it, you secure the line”, by the time our "friends" woke up, we would be in big trouble as well as being blamed by them for the eventual chaos.

While I appreciate those wishing to curtail the waste in spending and inertia which hits many departments, your first poster doesn't provide the goods on the DOD. His first link states old news and insinuates an evil corporate empire wishing to enslave the world in perpetual warfare while bleeding our prosperity good bye. He connects names and policies and highlights strategic elements of our emerging NSS, as tif hose connections in themselves constitute some nastiness. Of course a widely scattered group working with the major corporations advance a strategic policy with the DOD in order to keep the military going. It isn’t done behind secret doors without Congressional review. I do strongly favor strengthening the whistle blowing protection laws. While I know waste happens and policy is somewhat clumsy (see rotation stupidity in light of counterinsurgency tactics), the great evil conspiracy that some think these “links” imply is over the top.

This is another topic, I'm sorry to address it here. Just one example. Small nukes were proposed to counter underground bunkers. A 35,000 bomb is set to test soon. Everyone knows nukes would be a bad idea, The DOD knows this. Part of the strategy is to keep them guessing. Remember Dr. Strangelove? Is it a bad idea to drop a Tungsten wing-guided rod from on high, that could drive 300 feet into the ground? Not bad. Raptors were designed with Iran in mind. Chinese have lasers on their turrets. Russia touts hypersonic warheads. These facts get lost in the polarizing.. The MIC is a capitalist manifestation of self-interest and profit. It has worked a bit better than other systems, but certainly it should be checked and reformed. One great way to save a buck is to prevent the use of force without clear criteria for action, a good plan and great execution with benchmarks the people can rally behind. Anyway, thanks for your review and persistence to wrestle the news of the day, from the center ground...

2/02/2007 10:39 PM  
Blogger Maxtrue said...

No, brilliant one, that is the same NIE that warned of sectarian violence should we fail to keep order after Saddam was removed. You remember, the report Bush cherry-picked to support his particular plan for ousting Saddam. Funny how the Left disses reports that refute them now, when the same reports supported them in 2003. Back then the Left cried IRAN was the real threat, not Saddam, but now we should leave poor Iran alone. Being a bit more centered, you notice those things...... And by the way, I have never voted for a Republican.

2/02/2007 10:48 PM  
Blogger Maxtrue said...


30 billion short?

2/03/2007 9:23 AM  

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