[Thanks to Pam Person for permission to post this opinion piece. – JR]
February 28, 2011
How to reduce the deficit
Within the last 45 days, local people with the help of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have defeated multi-decade old tyrants in Egypt and Tunisia, and are trying to succeed in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain. How much has this cost the United States – nothing. How many US troops have been killed or injured during these uprisings – none. Our leaders have sent messages of support to the protestors and our technologies have enabled the public to succeed.
On February 25, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke at West Point to the cadets. The most relevant quote from that speech is: “…in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.“
This year the budget for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is approximately $185 billion at the same time Republican leaders urge action on our “fiscal crisis.”
As we enter into year ten in Afghanistan:
– 2,341 US soldiers have been killed and more NATO and civilians are being killed daily
– War and aid costs are $120 billion a year – over $455 billion since the war began.
– Over 98,000 US troops are in Afghanistan now
– No plan to exit, according to General Petreaus, until at least 2014
– UN reports that, despite the surge, there are few secure (from Taliban) areas of Afghanistan
– We have not found Osama bin Laden
– Al Quaeda is no longer believed to be active in Afghanistan
– The Taliban leaders did not attack us in 2001
– Afghanistan has been able to defeat all foreign invaders for centuries
– What is our purpose in being there in February 2011?
As we approach the eighth anniversary of our attack on Iraq here is what we know:
– 4,757 US soldiers have been killed and over 30,000 wounded in Iraq
– Iraq did not attack us on September 11, 2001
– Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction in 2003
– Our combat soldiers have left but we have over 50,000 troops in Iraq and are still spending about $65 billion this year in Iraq.
– Chinese company got the first Iraqi oil contracts.
– Iraqi civilian deaths are over 100,000. 4.6 million Iraqis have been internally displaced or become refugees in neighboring countries.
– We have spent well over $802 billion in direct costs plus tens of billions in “additional security” funding.
It will probably cost US taxpayers another $1 trillion when the continued care of all physically and mentally wounded veterans from both wars is counted, not to mention the countless personal tragedies.
Where have we been more successful?
(1) in 2011 with our statements supporting democracy in Northern Africa, or
(2) in our two wars that have bled our nation dry – physically, financially and
in terms of international support?
As Congress considers balancing the budget, remember the costs of $185 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq for just this year. Please, Maine congressional delegation, vote to bring our troops home now.
Pam and Phil Person
“How is the War Economy working for You?” — Veterans for Peace