My fellow fiscal conservatives are letting me down. At a time when we desperately need to cut the deficit, they are standing by while the Obama administration spends $119 billion per year in Afghanistan, which is a country with a gross national product of only $14 billion a year.
Conservatives fought tooth and nail against the health-care program, which costs far less than our occupation of Afghanistan. Yet when our military plans for a multiyear commitment in Afghanistan – a trillion-dollar commitment even with a gradual drawdown – fiscal conservatives barely raise an eyebrow.
In 2000, the U.S. military budget was $370 billion. For 2011, it is $707 billion. And that’s before any unforeseen emergency supplements. And much of this is for a war where even a cursory review reveals that al-Qaeda is largely gone from Afghanistan – and where the underlying conflict is a civil war in which negotiation among all the relevant parties will get us further, faster, and at a much lower cost.
Richard Vague, a Philadelphia-based CEO, was a member of the Afghanistan Study Group project I helped organize — and I think that one of his key points, that we are spending nearly nine times the GNP of a country, seems like a fiasco.
— Steve Clemons