Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

From Plato Jesus:

Nothing says Fourth of July like putting a price tag on the killing we're doing in the name of freedom. In that spirit, allow me to reflect on a recent report by Congressional Research Service (CRS) and provide a brief update:

How much have we spent to fight wars in the past 7 years?

About $700 billion since 9/11 on Iraq, Afghanistan, and bunkers.

If you total what has been spent on military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans' health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks - Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other counter terror operations; Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military bases; and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) - Congress has approved about $700 billion.

Where is the money going?

Mostly through the Defense Department to Iraq. Of that total, Iraq will receive about $524 billion (75%), OEF about $141 billion (20%), and enhanced base security about $28 billion (4%), with about $5 billion that CRS cannot allocate (1%). About 94% of the funds are for DOD, 6% for foreign aid programs and embassy operations, and less than 1% for medical care for veterans.

What is the current rate of spending?

A little over $12 billion a month. As of April 2008, DOD's monthly obligations for contracts and pay averaged about $12.1 billion, including $9.8 billion for Iraq, and $2.3 billion for Afghanistan.

How much are we going to spend in the short-term (the next 2 years)?

We're committed to at least another $163 billion over the next two years, but this could be supplemented later as has often been done since 9/11.

On June 19, the House passed a new version of H.R. 2642, the FY2008 Supplemental, which is expected to be considered by the Senate next week. That bill includes $163 billion for both FY2008 and FY2009. If this clears the Senate and becomes law, war funding would total $857 billion, including $656 billion for Iraq, $173 billion for Afghanistan, and $29 billion for enhanced security.

How much are we going to spend in the long-term (the next 10 years)?

It depends on how many troops we keep in Iraq and for how long. In February 2008, the Congressional Budget Office projected that additional war costs from 2009 through 2018 under two scenarios: If troop levels are reduced to 30,000 by 2010, we will spend another $440 billion between now and 2018, for a total of over $1 trillion. If troop levels are reduced to 75,000 by 2013, we will spend another $1 trillion between now and 2018, for a total of over $1.7 trillion.

All very fascinating and depressing reading, but a couple of other numbers don't appear in the report:

US soldiers killed in Iraq: 4,413
US soliders wounded in Iraq: over 30,000
US soldiers killed in Afghanistan: 541
US soldiers wounded in Afghanistan: over 2,000
US soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan 32,000
US soldiers currently serving in Iraq 160,000

So, how's the war to protect freedom going?

Let's just say we've spent about $700 billion and if we're really lucky, we're likely to spend only at least twice that in the next decade. As for the human toll, it's a blurry and forgotten footnote.

copyright, © 2008 Plato Jesus

photo by Wyatt Doyle