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Costs of Iraq, Afghanistan wars could rise to $6 trillion

By       Message Bill van Auken       (Page 2 of 2 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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The most common medical problems suffered by troops returning from the two wars, according to the report, "include: diseases of the musculoskeletal system (principally joint and back disorders); mental health disorders; central nervous system and endocrine system disorders; as well as respiratory, digestive, skin, and hearing disorders." Fully 29 percent of these troops have been diagnosed with PTSD.

Among the most severely wounded are 6,476 soldiers and Marines who have suffered "severe penetrating brain injury," and another 1,715 who have had one or more limbs amputated. Over 30,000 veterans are listed as suffering 100 percent service-related disabilities, while another 145,000 are listed as 70 to 90 percent disabled.

The worst of these casualties have taken place under the Obama administration as a result of the so-called surge that the Democratic president ordered in Afghanistan. "Walter Reed is treating hundreds of recent amputees and severe casualties--the hospital received 100 amputees for treatment during 2010; 170 amputees in 2011; and 107 amputees in 2012," the report states. "The Marines have suffered an especially high toll."

As the report points out, massive direct spending on the two imperialist interventions continues. Over 60,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan. It is estimated that the cost of deploying one American soldier for one year in this war amounts to $1 million. These troops continue suffering casualties--including in so-called "green on blue" attacks by Afghan security forces on their ostensible allies. As they are brought home, they will further drive up the costs of medical care and disability compensation.

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Moreover, Obama's claims that the "tide of war is receding" notwithstanding, an "Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement" signed by the US president and America's puppet in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, envisions US military operations continuing in Afghanistan for at least another decade after the formal withdrawal deadline at the end of 2014.

And, as the report points out, "The US is maintaining a vast diplomatic presence in Iraq, including at least 10,000 private contractors providing support in security, IT, logistics, engineering and other occupations; as well as logistics support and payments for leased facilities in Kuwait."

Finally, there was the way in which the US government financed the wars, which was based on just as much of a lie as the phony pretexts of terrorism and "weapons of mass destruction" used to launch them.

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The Bush administration claimed at its outset that the Iraq war would finance itself out of Iraqi oil revenues. When Bush's National Economic Council director Lawrence Lindsey told the Wall Street Journal that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, he came under intense fire from others in the administration who claimed that this was a gross overestimation, and he was forced to resign.

Washington ended up borrowing some $2 trillion to finance the two wars, the bulk of it from foreign lenders. This accounts for roughly 20 percent of the total amount added to the US national debt between 2001 and 2012. According to the report, the US "has already paid $260 billion in interest on the war debt," and future interest payments will amount to trillions of dollars.

"It is important to note that this borrowing has not been used to invest in the capital stock of the country," the report notes. "For example, investing in education, infrastructure and knowledge (R&D) benefits the nation, so this is debt for a helpful purpose. By contrast, the war debt has been especially unhelpful."

Vast resources literally went up in smoke in Iraq and Afghanistan, while tens of billions of dollars were squandered on supposed aid and reconstruction programs that were riddled with corruption, incompetence and inefficiency, doing little or nothing to improve conditions for the populations of those countries.

In its conclusion, the report seeks to dispel illusions that ending full-scale wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will produce any kind of "peace dividend" that could help ameliorate conditions of poverty, unemployment and declining living standards for working people in the US itself.

"Instead, the legacy of decisions made during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts will impose significant long-term costs on the federal government," it warns. "In short, there will be no peace dividend, and the legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan wars will be costs that persist for decades."

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Bill Van Auken (born 1950) is a politician and activist for the Socialist Equality Party and was a presidential candidate in the U.S. election of 2004, announcing his candidacy on January 27, 2004. His running mate was Jim Lawrence. He came in 15th (more...)

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