Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Greatest Example of Wasteful Government Spending

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and counterterrorism operations have cost the U.S. a combined $1.6 trillion since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to a new Congressional Research Service analysis.
Through fiscal 2014, which ended in September, Congress approved $815 billion for warfare in Iraq, $686 billion for Afghanistan and other operations against terrorism, $81 billion for other war-designated spending and $27 billion for Operation Noble Eagle air patrols over the U.S., according to the report posted on the agency’s internal website. The total includes $297 billion spent on weapon procurement and war repairs.
The assessment is the agency’s first full update of war costs since March 2011. About 92 percent of the funds went to the Pentagon, followed by the State Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs. It includes war operations, training and equipping Iraqi and Afghan forces, diplomatic operations and medical care for wounded Americans over the past 13 years, the agency said in the report dated Dec. 8. It also includes most reconstructions costs.
“The main factor determining cost is the number of U.S. troops deployed” at different times, the research service said. U.S. troops in Afghanistan peaked at 100,000 in 2011; there are 11,600 there today as the U.S. withdrawal continues.
The figures include war-related intelligence funding that wasn’t tracked or spent by the Defense Department, according to the report. It wasn’t updated with the $63.7 billion in war spending for the current fiscal year for Afghanistan operations and the first installment of operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The Iraq invasion--initiated on a pledge to rid Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction he didn’t have -- resulted in 4,491 U.S. military and civilian deaths and 32,244 wounded, according to Defense Department data compiled by Bloomberg.
The U.S. invasion to destroy al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and remove the Taliban from power has led to 2,356 military and U.S. civilians deaths and 20,060 wounded as of Dec. 16.
In addition, 128,496 U.S. military who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to September data from the Defense Medical Surveillance System.
Unlike academic estimates, which have calculated total costs as much higher, the Congressional Research Service doesn’t include in its calculations the lifetime costs of medical care for disabled veterans, imputed interest on the deficit or potential increases to the base defense budget deemed to be a consequence of the war, according to Amy Belasco, author of the report.
 So the real costs are much higher still, and what did we get for that?  Nothing.  And yet, most politicians, and a sizable number of citizens have learned nothing from these massive fuckups.  Much like in the torture debacle, where all evidence indicates we learned nothing valuable, and were sent chasing fabricated leads, yet many of the same politicians and citizens think torture works, and should be used in the future.  Many of these folks complain that Obama is weakening America, which is a joke, but based on the actions this nation has taken in the 21st century, it appears the nation and the world would likely be better off if we were too weak to project military power and torture interrogations wherever we feel like it.

On the subject of the wastefulness of the military-industrial complex, here is a very good article focusing on the F-35 boondoggle.

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