War Still Policy of Choice in Washington — Whatever the Cost

Congressional Republicans are engaged in a rare, internal debate over foreign policy. Prominent neoconservatives, including Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are chiding some in the party for what they describe as “isolationist” views. Of course, this label is dishonest; no one (at least in the Congress) wants to completely cut the United States off from the world.

But it is just as clear there is a pronounced and growing sentiment among Republicans that playing policeman to the world may be an unsustainable burden, especially at a time when we are experiencing a massive debt and budget crisis at home. And, with new, nonpartisan calculations of the costs of such an interventionist foreign policy now available, the questions are more timely and serious than ever. Whether the politicians in our nation’s Capitol will actually act on such sentiment, however, remains a question.

According to a new study from the Watson Institute at Brown University, the so-called “wars on terrorism” will cost taxpayers between $3.2 trillion and $4 trillion. The estimate includes not only the costs directly associated with prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the occupation and rebuilding in which we continue to engage in those countries; but also the substantial obligations to soldiers and their families.

Independent figures such as these have never sat well with those in government advocating for such adventures.

In the months before the invasion of Iraq, for example, Bush Administration officials claimed that war would cost between $50 billion and $60 billion. In fact, the administration played down higher cost estimates by its then-economic advisor, Lawrence Lindsey, who was forced to leave his White House post shortly after suggesting that the war could cost up to $200 billion.

However, the Watson Institute report now estimates we have spent over $757 billion in this Iraq adventure alone. Clearly, Bush Administration officials deliberately low-balled the cost of the war in an attempt to sell it to members of Congress and the public.

While some form of military involvement in Afghanistan was understandable and justifiable in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, our continued to presence in the “Graveyard of Empires” nearly a decade after those attacks has cost over $416 billion.

The cost in terms of human lives also should be noted. The report estimates that 225,000 people have been killed in the 10-year “war on terrorism,” which includes soldiers from the U.S. and allied countries and civilians in occupied nations. Additionally, the report notes that the US Veterans Administration system alone has already treated more than 650,000 veterans of the two wars for a variety of problems and received 550,000 disability claims.

Sadly, our interventions do not end with these two countries. America’s involvement in Libya continues; and apparently at levels higher than publicly admitted. Just last month we learned of airstrikes against militants in Somalia. The Washington Post noted that the “airstrike makes Somalia at least the sixth country where the United States is using drone aircraft to conduct lethal attacks, joining Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen.”

With the Congress poised to condone a broadened view of the “war on terrorism,” there is little to prevent President Barack Obama from arbitrarily dropping bombs on whatever country might engage in actions the president finds displeasing on any particular day.

At the end of the day, however, while Republicans and Democrats may bicker, and nuanced differences in domestic policy will surface periodically, when it comes to war, it doesn’t really matter much which of the two major parties occupies the residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or is in charge of the domed building at the other end of the street. War is patriotic.

by Bob Barr — The Barr Code

60 comments Add your comment

Michael T

July 8th, 2011
9:27 pm

To: I Know You Are …,

I don’t know if you are joking or what but I think you’ll find Bookman’s blog is rampant with juvenile name-calling and decorum is not welcome. At least Bob doesn’t join in the name-calling. Now, the one who really needs to police his blog is Jim Wooten. The lunatics are running the asylum over at Wooten’s. But he’s okay with that because if it weren’t for the kooks, he’d have hardly any comments atall.

P.S. Please let me know what you thought of Bookman’s blog.


July 8th, 2011
10:01 pm

“Please let me know what you thought of Bookman’s blog.”

1: Bookman allows his liberal minions to name call but bans any conservative who name calls.
2: Bookman loves to attack white Christians.
3: Bookman blames the GOP for everything but won’t say one bad thing about Obama.
4: There are approximately 10 liberal bloggers who blog 24/7 on his blog.
5: Bookman claims that he can take down Neal Boortz.
6: Neal Boortz averages thousands of listeners per week and Bookman averages 20 different bloggers per week.
7: Bookman once stated that the GOP caused Obama not to shut down Gitmo even though the Democrats controlled both the House and Senate.
8: Bookman blames high unemployment on George W. Bush.
9: Bookman claims that Sarah Palin is irrelevant yet he once devoted 3 weeks to trash talk her.
10: Bookman believes that he is the Thomas Friedman of the south.

Liberals are retarded

July 8th, 2011
10:04 pm

“you falsely assume I am a liberal.”

Gee, I wonder where I got that from? LOL

“who was told repeatedly that his tax cuts would cause a massive deficit. ”

Spending causes deficits, Debruuuuuu. Tax cuts gave companies the ability to hire more people.

You didn’t take Econ 101 did you.

“Not only did he start two unnecessary, ineffective wars”

Guess you missed 911. You must have also missed the fact that many Democrats including the current VP and Sec of State both voted for them.

“Before you start huffing and puffing,maybe you should use your brain.”

Says the gal who doesn’t understand basic economics.

Michael T

July 8th, 2011
10:36 pm

Thank you Observation for your observations. Yes, I noticed that Jay spends so much time criticizing republicans that he doesn’t have time to say anything good about democrats. So, I must assume there is nothing to good to say. And I have noticed he is obsessed with Sarah Palin. I’m sure he dreams about her.


July 9th, 2011
9:04 am

Not much brain power to being a lemming…….. But hey Bush did great, gosh I am surprised the country didn’t implode with all that wonderful work he did !

But he got close…..the Iraq War was for what ? And the cost is now what ?

How are we going to pay for that war ….Please Republican’s step up and answer.

Sure all got on board after the many lies were spewed, until the lie became a reality.

Please don’t ever say a the last few Republican President’s were “Conservative” with Tax payers money, as long as the Cons are out there crying free the world.

“Cost plus contracts were NOT for Bilking America ?

John McCain is the first example, we dodged WW 3 with his and Palin’s loss in the last election. See there is a God after all !

But really…… which God did George pray too before invading Iraq ?


July 9th, 2011
11:31 am

War is the natural equilibrium of the global man. We need it like plants need rain. Without it, we’re finished.

We need more movies to glorify war, our destiny.


July 9th, 2011
6:04 pm

What is most ridiculous is that those who support spending this $3-4 trillion are unwilling to pay for it. We will be the first generation to ask our children and grandchildren to pay for our wars because we won’t support tax increases to pay for it, even though we are paying the lowest taxes since the depression; and god forbid that corporations like Exxon and GE that paid no taxes in 2010 be asked to pay taxes to pay for something like this.

Peter is a moron

July 9th, 2011
8:32 pm

“the Iraq War was for what ?”

Ask your cult leader Obama about it since he’s the one keeping the troops there.

“How are we going to pay for that war ”

The same way we pay for your welfare check every month.

Gen. Halftrack

July 10th, 2011
1:25 pm

That we continue to maintain this huge number of troops in Afghanistan becomes more curious every year.

A possible reason that’s never mentioned is the issue of what’s to be done with those 100,000 souls when we bring them home? Probably half of them would be cashiered out of the service. In Afghanistan at least they’re not a factor in the 9.2% unemployment rate.

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