As NATO formally takes over the operation in Libya, the US is set to continue injecting millions of dollars into operation Odyssey Dawn.
The US has cultivated an enviable ease with which it invades nations. War 1, war 2, war 3… Locations change. The list of enemies grows. The habit becomes harder to shake, even as the costs rack up.
From military spending, to casualties, to a badly stained world image – what is the real toll of America’s wars?
Five and a half thousand people – that’s the official American death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another 70,000 is the estimated number of injured US soldiers, while some 170,000 are thought to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“But we are also looking at the number of people that are being killed by U.S. actions, and there we are getting up to the millions,” said co-founder of antiwar.com Eric Garris in San Francisco.
It’s estimated that 100,000 to 1 million Iraqis are dead, with 4 million displaced. Aaron Emery, after a tour in Iraq, is tired of the US trying to run the rest of the world.
“American way of life doesn’t work everywhere. We’ve seen this over and over again. We tried to bring it to Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, what we have going on in Libya now. It never works. It will only work if the people want it. But if they want it, they are going to do it on their own,” he said.
Something the west did not allow the Libyans.
In terms of money, the US is the proud owner of the largest defense budget in the world.
“We have 54 percent of federal tax dollars going into defense and into the destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq, you have to really wonder how crazy this country is,” said editorial columnist Ted Rall.
Another question begging to be asked – why would total military expenditure be nearing a staggering $900 billion? The answer – because war is expensive.
Iraq has cost an estimated $3 trillion.
“That was enough money to fix the social security problem in the United States for fifty years,” said Paul Craig Roberts, former Reagan Administration official.
Afghanistan has cost another $3 trillion.
“If we just took 243 troops – 243 – that’s all! That’s barely a drop in the bucket – for the hundreds of thousands that are over there right now – put them on a C-130 and flew them back home, we would save enough money to fund higher education for all of Afghanis for the entire year,” explained Derrick Crowe.
Those wars are not over and done, yet the attack on Libya kicked off. The tab for the first 10 days in Libya is $550 million dollars with another $120 million to be pumped in over the next three weeks, followed by a monthly allowance of $40 million.
“They said that now NATO is in charge. NATO spelt backwards is USA,” said trends forecaster Gerald Celente.
Another less tangible price of war-waging is the soaring anti-American sentiment abroad, chipping away at a self-proclaimed key to successful diplomacy.
“The United States is losing influence. It looks not like some sort of a democratic nation in pursuit of peace. It looks like a very aggressive war-monger,” said Roberts.
“The United States has not won a war decisively since world war two,” echoed Rall.
While former soldiers certainly get it, politicians seem blissfully unaware.
Nathan Sassaman, a former commander of ground troops in Iraq explained that like Iraq, the conflict in Libya may last much longer than anticipated.
“There are a lot of long-term consequences when you commit forces to the battlefield,” he explained, expressing that when the military is involved, the consequences are always great and unknown.
No matter the reasons, when the military becomes involved the length of the commitment is longer, civilian casualties and military casualties on all sides rise, costs rise.
“It’s a very very high cost,” he said. “I think there should have been a lot more consideration taken into account before we introduced American forces into this battlefield.”
Sassaman said the US could be looking at another eight to ten years in Libya just like Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Obama is a painful liar,” he said, explaining the President’s words regarding regime change in Libya.
Lendman said American involvement will continue even if it is under the name of NATO. It has all been planned and began last year. It’s classic western imperialism, he argued. There is no Libyan revolution; it is a western backed insurgency. The excuse of humanitarianism is non-existent, he said. The west caused the humanitarian crisis, not Gaddafi.
The intervention in Libya is illegal and violates the UN chatter. No nation may attack another except in self-defense, he contended.