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US Coats of Wars

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Cost of Wars and now Ukraine By Paul E Vallely, MG US Army (Ret)

July 3, 2022

The United States and its Presidents continue to drain our Treasury for unnecessary wars and conflicts. The loss of life and the destruction of property, cities, and towns account for a whole separate set of costs.

Nearly 20 years after the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, the cost of its global war on terror stands at $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths, according to a report from the Costs of War project at Brown University “The wars (though never declared as wars by our Congress) have been long, complex, horrific and unsuccessful. The research team’s $8 trillion estimate accounts for all direct costs of the country’s post-9/11 wars, including Department of Defense Overseas Contingency Operations funding; State Department war expenditures, and counterterror war-related costs, including war-related increases to the Pentagon’s base budget; care for veterans to date and in the future; Department of Homeland Security spending; and interest payments on borrowing for these wars. The total includes funds that the Biden administration requested in May 2021.

The death toll, standing at an estimated 897,000 to 929,000, includes U.S. military members, allied fighters, opposition fighters, civilians, journalists, and humanitarian aid workers who were killed as a direct result of war, whether by bombs, bullets, or fire. It does not, the researchers noted, including the many indirect deaths the war on terror has caused by way of disease, displacement, and loss of access to food or clean drinking water.

“The deaths we tallied are likely a vast undercount of the true toll these wars have taken on human life,” said Neta Crawford, a co-founder of the project and a professor of political science at Boston University. “It’s critical we properly account for the vast and varied consequences of the many U.S. wars and counterterror operations since 9/11, as we pause and reflect on all of the lives lost.” “Twenty years from now, we will still be reckoning with the high societal costs of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars — long after U.S. forces are gone.”

The report comes at the end of a contentious U.S.. surrender in Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents captured every major city and seized governmental control as American military units worked to extract 123,000 troops, diplomats, and allies. Of the $8 trillion, $2.3 trillion is attributed to the Afghanistan/Pakistan war zone, according to the report. We turned approximately $85 B of military equipment to the Taliban at Bagram Air Base where the Chinese have now moved into and control as part of the silk-belt road initiative.

In an address to the nation on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, President Biden cited Costs of War estimates to convey the financial and human burden of the 20-year war in Afghanistan as he defended his decision to surrender and leave, by the way, many Americans and its supporters on the ground.

“We no longer had a clear purpose in an open-ended mission in Afghanistan,” Biden said. “After more than $2 trillion spent in Afghanistan, costs that Brown University researchers estimated would be over $300 million a day for 20 years — yes, the American people should hear this… what have we lost, therefore, in terms of opportunities? …I refuse to send America’s sons and daughters to fight a war that should have ended long ago.”

Even as the U.S. exited Afghanistan, Costs of War estimates show that Americans are far from done paying the bill on the war on terror, which continues across multiple continents. The cumulative cost of military intervention in the Iraq/Syria war zone has risen to $2.1 trillion since 9/11, and about $355 billion more has funded military presence in other countries, including Somalia and a handful of African countries.

And when the wars do end, the costs of war will continue to rise, the report notes A towering $2.2 trillion of the estimated financial total accounts for future care that has already been set aside for military veterans, the researchers said, and the U.S. and other countries could pay the cost of environmental damage wrought by the wars for generations to come.[1]

Researchers for the project reported direct war costs, which include all Department of Defense Overseas Contingency operations funding and State Department war expenditures, and counter-terror war-related costs such as increases to the Pentagon’s base budget, care for veterans to date and in the future, spending by the Department of Homeland Security, and interest payments on borrowing for these wars. Of the approximately $8 trillion estimated costs of the wars, $2.3 trillion can be attributed to the war zones in Afghanistan and Pakistan, $2.1 trillion to the war zones in Iraq and Syria, and $355 billion was attributed to other war zones. The total also includes $1.1 trillion of related spending by Homeland Security and an estimated $2.2 trillion earmarked for future veterans’ care, including future medical care and disability payments, over the next decades.

The estimates do not include money spent on humanitarian assistance and aid for economic development in Afghanistan and Iraq, future costs of interest payments on borrowed money to pay for wars after the Fiscal Year 2023, or state and local spending for counter-terrorism and services for post-Sept. 11 veterans. The cost to the U.S. would have been much higher if not for the help and spending of allies, including Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Germany, and France.

The lack of detailed expenses from the federal government was the impetus for the Costs of War project, Crawford wrote. The Globe reported: In March, the Defense Department released its most recent estimate that emergency and overseas contingency operations spending for wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan cost a total of $1.6 trillion, or $8,094 per taxpayer through the Fiscal Year 2020. But those amounts entirely exclude non-defense department classified programs.

“Democracy can sometimes take a beating during the war,” the report states. “Operations may be shrouded in well-intentioned but perhaps unnecessary secrecy, and mistakes are generally swept under the rug or downplayed.” “The Costs of War Project hopes that this accounting, and our other work, promotes transparency and facilitates informed conversations about current and future wars,” the report states.

The human costs of war are huge and crippling. The financial costs can be, too. According to a new estimate by the Costs of War co-director Neta Crawford, US taxpayers have paid nearly $2 trillion in war-related costs on the Iraq war alone. Newsweek estimated that the total for the Iraq War comes out to an average of $8,000 per taxpayer. The figure far exceeds the Pentagon’s estimate that Americans paid an average of $3,907 each for Iraq and Syria to date. And in March 2019, the Department of Defense estimated that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria combined have cost each US taxpayer around $7,623 on average.

Breaking down the financial costs of the Iraq War

The Pentagon had been allotted approximately $838 billion in “emergency” and “overseas contingency operations” for military operations in Iraq from the fiscal year 2003 to 2019, including operations fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, Savell says the actual costs of the war often exceed that of the Congress-approved budgets.

“When you’re accounting for the cost of war, you can’t only account for what the DOD has spent on overseas contingency funds,” Savell told Insider. “You have to look at the other sets of costs including interest on borrowed funds, increased war-related spending, higher pay to retain soldiers, medical and disability care on post-9-11 and war veterans, and more.”

According to their estimates, the cost of the Iraq War to date would be $1,922 billion in current dollars — this figure includes funding appropriated by the Pentagon explicitly for the war, spending on the country by the State Department, the care of the Iraq War veterans and interests on debt incurred for the 16 years of the US military’s involvement in the country. Many pockets were lined with dollars and unaccountable (not traceable). Crawford says that war-related spending in Iraq has blown past its budget in the 16 years military forces have been in the country, estimating a $382 billion surplus in Iraq alone.

The increases to the Congressionally approved budgets were used to heighten security at bases, for enlistment and reenlistment bonuses, to increase pay to retain personnel, and for the healthcare costs of servicemembers.

A US soldier in Iraq. Getty

Aside from the Defense Department costs, the State Department added approximately $59 billion to the total costs of the Iraq War for USAID on Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, $199 billion has been spent on Iraq war veterans receiving medical care, disability, and other compensation.

The US has gone deep into debt to pay for the war. That means it has interest payments. Just print more money!

As expected, that taxpayer dollars are going towards war-related expenses including operations, equipment, and personnel. But a surprising amount of the costs are to pay off the interest on the debt the US has accrued since going to war. “People also need to know that these wars have been put on a credit card, so we will be paying trillions on war borrowing in interest alone over the next several decades,” Avell told Insider.  Since the US launched its “Global War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan — and later Yemen, Pakistan, and other areas — the US government has completely financed its war efforts by borrowing funds. A Cost of War Projects reports estimated the US government debts from all post-9/11 war efforts “resulted in cumulative interest payments of $925 billion” on a $2 trillion debt. The financing method departs from previous international conflicts, where the federal government either raised taxes or issued war bonds to finance war-related expenses. According to Boston University political scientist Rosella Cappella-Zielinski, tax payments accounted for 30% of the cost of World War I and almost 50% of the cost of World War II.

Borrowing from both domestic and foreign sources, Crawford estimates the US has incurred $444 billion in interest on borrowing to pay for Pentagon and State Department spending in Iraq alone. While the money spent on the Iraq War may seem staggering, the Costs of War estimates the US has spent over $6.4 trillion total on all of its “War on Terror” efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the related violence in Pakistan and Syria. Defense Department spokesperson Christopher Sherwood told Insider that the Defense Department dedicates $1.575 trillion for war-related costs, with an average of spending $4.2 billion per month on all operations for the fiscal year 2019. Sherwood said that the department’s costs go towards war-related operational costs, such as training and communications, support for deployed troops, including food and medical services, and transportation of personnel and equipment.

 The human costs of the Iraq War are even harder to trace. The US invaded Iraq in March 2003 on the belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq’s government had connections to various terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. Although the invasion initially had overwhelming support from the American public and the approval of Congress, it is now considered one of the greatest foreign policy blunders in US history. 189,000 soldiers were killed in direct war deaths and 32,223 injured, Cost of War estimated. Meanwhile, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of service members due to war-related hardships remain difficult to track.

The Costs of War Project believes calculating the total costs of war — economic, political, and human — is important to ensure that Americans can make educated choices about war-related policies. “War is expensive — in terms of lives lost, physical damage to people and property, mental trauma to soldiers and war-zone inhabitants, and in terms of money,” Cost of War researcher Heidi Peltier wrote. In 2016 and leading up to 2020, President Trump campaigned on a promise of pulling American troops out and ending “these ridiculous wars” in the Middle East.

The Pentagon originally requested less than $10 billion of that amount for Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria — however, the budget may be blown after more troops were sent into a war zone that was meant to be winding down. The Pentagon had been allotted approximately $838 billion in “emergency” and “overseas contingency operations” for military operations in Iraq from the fiscal year 2003 to 2019, including operations fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, Savell says the actual costs of the war often exceed that of the Congress-approved budgets.

“When you’re accounting for the cost of war, you can’t only account for what the DOD has spent on overseas contingency funds,” Savell told Insider. “You have to look at the other sets of costs including interest on borrowed funds, increased war-related spending, higher pay to retain soldiers, medical and disability care on post-9-11 and war veterans, and more.” According to their estimates, the cost of the Iraq War to date would be $1,922 billion in current dollars — this figure includes funding appropriated by the Pentagon explicitly for the war, spending on the country by the State Department, the care of Iraq War veterans and interests on debt incurred for the 16 years of the US military’s involvement in the country. Crawford says that war-related spending in Iraq has blown past its budget in the 16 years military forces have been in the country, estimating a $382 billion surplus in Iraq alone.

The increases to the Congressionally approved budgets were used to heighten security at bases, for enlistment and reenlistment bonuses, to increase pay to retain personnel, and for the healthcare costs of servicemembers. Aside from the Defense Department costs, the State Department added approximately $59 billion to the total costs of the Iraq War for USAID on Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, $199 billion has been spent on Iraq war veterans receiving medical care, disability, and other compensation.

The US has gone deep into debt to pay for the war. That means it has more interest payments.

As expected, that taxpayer dollars are going towards war-related expenses including operations, equipment, and personnel. But a surprising amount of the costs are to pay off the interest on the debt the US has accrued since going to war. “People also need to know that these wars have been put on a credit card, so we will be paying trillions on war borrowing in interest alone over the next several decades,” Avell told Insider. Since the US launched its “Global War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan — and later Yemen, Pakistan, and other areas — the US government has completely financed its war efforts by borrowing funds. A Cost of War Projects reports estimated the US government debts from all post-9/11 war efforts “resulted in cumulative interest payments of $925 billion” on a $2 trillion debt. The financing method departs from previous international conflicts, where the federal government either raised taxes or issued war bonds to finance war-related expenses. According to Boston University political scientist Rosella Cappella-Zielinski, tax payments accounted for 30% of the cost of World War I and almost 50% of the cost of World War II. [2]

The Biden administration is set to hand over another massive amount of U.S. taxpayer money to Ukraine, as Russia has continued to make military advances following its Feb. 24 invasion. Washington will send Kyiv another $820 million on top of the billions the administration has already sent. As reported by Slay News,The assistance comprises of $770 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds plus an authorization of a Presidential Drawdown (PDA) of security assistance valued at up to $50 million. The PDA is the 14th drawdown of arms and equipment from the Pentagon’s inventories since August 2021. The United States has committed a total of about $6.92 billion in military aid to Ukraine to fight Russian forces since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Prior to the invasion, the United States had committed some $1.8 billion in weapons and military training to Ukraine since 2014. The report noted that around $700 million of the $1.8 billion came from the Biden administration.

This latest aid package was noted by President Joe Biden during a news conference in Madrid, Spain 2002, the third and final day of a NATO summit that was focused primarily on the war in Ukraine. “We are going to support Ukraine as long as it takes,” Biden said, adding that the United States is giving Ukrainians “the capacity” so that “they can continue to resist the Russian aggression.” The Pentagon also issued a more specific announcement on Friday after the transfer was formalized. Capabilities in this package include:

  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

Under USAI, the DoD will provide Ukraine with critical capabilities to defend against Russian aggression. Included in this package are:

  • Two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS).
  • Up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition; and
  • Four additional counter-artillery radars.

The two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) are “a Norwegian-developed anti-aircraft system that is used to protect the airspace around the White House and Capitol in Washington,” Slay News added. “The United States continues to collaborate with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its evolving battlefield requirements. DoD recognizes Norway’s cooperation to enable the historic provision by the United States of modern air defense systems that will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s brutal air attacks,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Todd Breasseale.

“I am especially grateful today to the United States and to Biden personally for the package of support for Ukraine announced today, which includes very powerful NASAMS—an anti-aircraft missile system that will significantly strengthen our air defense,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted in a statement following Biden’s announcement. “We have worked hard for these supplies,” he added. Slay News adds:

The counter artillery radars being sent are the Raytheon-Technologies AN/TPQ-37 systems, a senior defense official told media, reported Reuters.

This is the first time these systems are being sent to Ukraine which have about triple the effective range of the previously sent AN/TPQ-36 systems.

The radars will require weeks at a minimum for defense companies to build.

Ukrainians are also being trained to use the newly provided systems.

The bulk of the aid will take weeks or even months to reach Ukraine. Administration officials as well as a host of military experts have predicted that the conflict is likely to go on for much longer, years.

“Ukrainians continue to face brutality highlighted once again this week by an attack that struck a shopping mall filled with civilians. They continue to fight for their country, and the United States continues to stand by them and their just cause. As the United States prepares to commemorate our independence, we remain committed to the independence, security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“Our commitment to the Ukrainian people will not waver, and we will continue to stand united with Ukraine,” he added.[3]

It is important to us Americans to know the cost of these “unnecessary wars.” President Trump had the United States and NATO on the right track and then, Joe Biden completely fell the track. NATO (somewhat reluctant) and the US keep pushing the war, maybe, to the brink of a nuclear war. You can only “poke” the bear for so long!

Published and Distributed by the Stand Up America US Foundation

Contact: [email protected]

[1] Brown University – Cost of War Project September 1, 2021

[2] Insider – Military and Defense 2 6 2020

[3] Conservative Brief 7 3 2022



Source: https://standupamericaus.org/us-coats-of-wars/


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