The Price Tag of Afghanistan Dwarfs Country’s GDP

-

afghanistan war.jpg
The cost of America’s military effort in Afghanistan is $65 billion per year — and the price tag will probably go up when a new strategy is announced by President Obama.
There have been many hundreds killed and thousands wounded there.
But what gets me is that the entire GDP of Afghanistan is just $22 billion.
We are spending — just on the military and not counting allied force commitments or NGO and other non-military aid — more than three times the entire GDP of the country.
And we have been losing this war.
And now the military wants more resources, more troops and more funding?
— Steve Clemons

Comments

38 comments on “The Price Tag of Afghanistan Dwarfs Country’s GDP

  1. Canada Guy says:

    Instabilty and war are the primary factors responsible for increased opium production in Afghanistan. Before the Soviet invasion, and during the brief rule of the Taliban, opium production was either very limited, or deliberated curtailed. Soon after the war is over, production is likely to plummet.
    http://watching-history.blogspot.com/2009/10/opium-in-afghanistan.html

    Reply

  2. Paul Norheim says:

    Thus I suppose you didn`t care to look at her
    arguments, which actually helped focusing on
    Biden`s option as an alternative to General Stanley
    McCrystal`s in Afghanistan?

    Reply

  3. ... says:

    why anyone bothers reading arianna huffpep is beyond me.

    Reply

  4. Paul Norheim says:

    Aranna Huffington:
    “WHY JOE BIDEN SHOULD RESIGN:
    The centerpiece of Newsweek’s story is how Biden has become the chief White House skeptic on escalating
    the war in Afghanistan, specifically arguing against Gen. McChrystal’s request for 40,000 more troops
    to pursue a counterinsurgency strategy there.
    The piece, by Holly Bailey and Evan Thomas, opens with details of a September 13th national security
    meeting at the White House. Biden speaks up:
    “Can I just clarify a factual point? How much will we spend this year on Afghanistan?” Someone provided
    the figure: $65 billion. “And how much will we spend on Pakistan?” Another figure was supplied: $2.25
    billion. “Well, by my calculations that’s a 30-to-1 ratio in favor of Afghanistan. So I have a
    question. Al Qaeda is almost all in Pakistan, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. And yet for every
    dollar we’re spending in Pakistan, we’re spending $30 in Afghanistan. Does that make strategic sense?”
    The White House Situation Room fell silent.
    Being Greek, I’m partial to Biden’s classic use of the Socratic method — skillfully eliciting facts in
    a way that lets people connect the dots that show how misguided our involvement in Afghanistan has
    become.
    It’s been known for a while that Biden has been on the other side of McChrystal’s desire for a big
    escalation of our forces there — the New York Times reported last month that he has “deep
    reservations” about it. So if the president does decide to escalate, Biden, for the good of the
    country, should escalate his willingness to act on those reservations.
    What he must not do is follow the same weak and worn-out pattern of “opposition” we’ve become all-too-
    accustomed to, first with Vietnam and then with Iraq. You know the drill: after the dust settles, and
    the country begins to look back and not-so-charitably wonder, “what were they thinking?” the mea-culpa-
    laden books start to come out. On page after regret-filled page, we suddenly hear how forceful this or
    that official was behind closed doors, arguing against the war, taking a principled stand, expressing
    “strong concern” and, yes, “deep reservations” to the president, and then going home each night
    distraught at the unnecessary loss of life.
    Well, how about making the mea culpa unnecessary? Instead of saving it for the book, how about future
    author Biden unfetter his conscience in real time — when it can actually do some good? If Biden truly
    believes that what we’re doing in Afghanistan is not in the best interests of our national security —
    and what issue is more important than that? — it’s simply not enough to claim retroactive
    righteousness in his memoirs.
    Though it would be a crowning moment in a distinguished career, such an act of courage would likely be
    only the beginning. Biden would then become the natural leader of the movement to wind down this
    disastrous war and focus on the real dangers in Pakistan.
    Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/why-joe-biden-should-resi_b_320929.html

    Reply

  5. questions says:

    From my 9:01 am post, which does deal with the money issue directly, and which then is referred to later….
    Near as I can tell, Dan, I do deal with the money issue below. And then I refer to it later. So if I’m supposed to repeat myself, here it is:
    “I think the money issue is probably the weakest one that could be made. We routinely spend more on things than they’re “worth” because “worth” is an indeterminate concept. What’s the market price for Afghanistan? Is it merely the sum of it’s economic output? Is it the value of a rogue state under control? Is it the value of pipleines crossing it? Is it the value of face saving? The value of proving that military adventurism is great?
    There are a lot of positive and negative ways to discuss the “value” of Afghanistan, and I don’t think any of them entirely gets at what we should be doing.
    There are humanitarian, strategic, political, face-saving, and probably lots of other reasons for being there or for exiting. These are waht need to be balanced. Not the GDP against our military spending.
    As I noted below someplace, money saved somewhere doesn’t necessarily get recaptured for spending elsewhere. So, “saving” money on Afghanistan doesn’t necessarily free up money for some other purpose.”

    Reply

  6. questions says:

    “Realistic about what we face” can quite easily mean that we are dealing with a host of undecidables.
    And Dan, what I offer after the point about not using money is not further bolstering about the point about not using money as an argument. I figured the money issue was already in the trash heap. What I offer instead is what it seems to me the grounds of the argument should be. Somewhere in the midst of morality and practicality is the place to look. Not to POA’s fucking pothole he should just repair himself (even if it is only some bullshit symbol or whatever) and not OA’s fucking swimming hole she should just fund herself, and certainly not the GDP of Afghanistan compared to the cost of intervention in Afghanistan.
    But I thought all the money stuff was clear already. My bad.
    *****
    And OA, economic incentives to behave do not necessarily change behavior. Not if there are threats to life, to ways of life, to core beliefs. Economics has a limited impact on people’s behavior in a lot of situations. A rabbit might like the carrots, but a grizzly bear might want a rabbit, and we might not be in the business of sacrificing rabbits to grizzlies to get something like peace.
    Hey POA, why are you so obsessed about things in people’s asses? Seriously. It’s your major metaphor.

    Reply

  7. Outraged American says:

    Farid-BRAVO. It’s almost libertarian, and /but, I’m not a true
    libertarian, I think your idea might work.
    Put the power and the money back to the people, to the villages,
    and let them work in their own best interests as they see fit and
    work with us to achieve whatever the hell goals we say we want
    to achieve that day.
    Any village that harms women (one of the “reasons” we’re
    allegedly over there) gets its funds cut and then watches as the
    village next door prospers.
    I’ll take bets they’ll turn their RPGs into plough shares in no
    time, which will mean more heroin for me — YIPPEE!
    And the situation of women in Afghanistan, which in the past
    has at times been relatively good before we helped muck things
    up — who funded the Mujahadeen … can’t remember…? — will
    improve.
    Carrots, a lot of them. Economic incentives to behave, and on a
    strictly local level. As Farid points out that would cost a lot less
    than this horrid, ludicrous war. If we’re going to rule another
    country we should at least do it right.

    Reply

  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Mostly, I’d like to see the arguments on either side be more realistic, less foolish, more honest about what we face”
    What an ironic joke, coming from questions. His entire commentary, about anything and everything, is spent telling us THERE IS NO DEFINABLE REALITY. Then he comes up with a statement like that.
    Questions wouldn’t know “honest about what we face” if someone shoved it up his ass with a telephone pole.

    Reply

  9. Dan Kervick says:

    “The main point I was making above is that the money issue is a poor one to be raising.”
    But nothing in what you say after making this claim amounts to anything close to an argument for it.

    Reply

  10. questions says:

    I think your last line, JohnH, says three quarters of it, and the other part is that we really do have a lot of moral claims to balance.
    The main point I was making above is that the money issue is a poor one to be raising.
    The argument against all the war fighting probably needs to be made first on the do-ability level. War simply does nothing we need done, and in fact makes it all worse.
    Second, the morality issue falls against the troops’ presence because soldiers do more damage than they fix. Their presence radicalizes the nationals, brings massive corruption, and distorts the local economy.
    Third, sending soldiers in is utterly against US national interests.
    Possibly there are other arguments that can be made that are far more effective AND accurate than the money nonsense.
    BUT — on the making it worse — is that a temporary effect that passes and then we hit this mystical mark where suddenly we start making things better? That’s the powerful fantasy at any rate. Makes it hard to get out on the off chance that tomorrow is that mystical day.
    On the second point, it’s not super popular to see OUR soldiers as wicked, distorting, unhelpful. You hit the “hey, you’re against the troops” issue.
    And on the third, I have suggested for quite some time that “American interests” is not a definable term. Not even sure “American” is definable given how un-unified this country is.
    With all of this in place, I find it really difficult to settle on a good, smart, right policy towards Afghanistan, and I’m surprised that anyone thinks there’s an easy answer, either morally or politically.
    What I would hope for at this point is some kind of wimpy “third way” thing that encourages the very slow development of something like a non-corrupt legal, political, and social system in Afghanistan )the more I read about the place, the less hope I have for it. All these years of war really have ravaged it.)
    But the precise contours of a third way strategy are certainly beyond me. Maybe a massive “peace corps” like push? Vast boarding schools for all boys aged 6 and up to keep them off the streets? Intensive farm aid and a policy of buying up what they grow? Anti-opium policies? Security for those who might actually not want to work for the Taliban? Dealing with the radio broadcasts that seem to be pretty threatening? Attracting those who might be religiously inclined but don’t necessarily need the Taliban’s version of religion?
    I’m not sure anyone knows how to intervene without distorting a market in unsustainable ways. I’m not sure non-intervention is the smartest thing ever. So there’s my Afghanistan “fix.”
    Mostly, I’d like to see the arguments on either side be more realistic, less foolish, more honest about what we face. Dealing with reality might lead to something like a reasonable policy. Dealing with OA’s swimming pool and POA’s pothole is not going to give us a reasonable policy.

    Reply

  11. JohnH says:

    questions–you’re right. Saving money one place does not necessarily free it up elsewhere.
    But eliminating funding for the occupation of Afghanistan would, at minimum, reduce the need of the US government to borrow from China, Petro States, and the Social Security Trust Fund. This would alleviate the downward pressure on the dollar and help assure that Social Security could meet its obligations towards those who were taxed extra to secure their retirements.
    Of course, if the military misadventures magically disappeared, Congress could substitute other self-destructive behaviors, such as more borrowing to pay off Wall Street’s gambling debts or cutting taxes on the wealthy…

    Reply

  12. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Our presence in Afghanistan has never made a bit of sense to me, least of all economically.

    Reply

  13. thecrow says:

    Yes, but what is the “price tag” of the TAPI pipeline, Mr. Clemmons?
    http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/the-gas-must-flow/

    Reply

  14. questions says:

    oops — its NOT it’s. Damn!

    Reply

  15. questions says:

    I think the money issue is probably the weakest one that could be made. We routinely spend more on things than they’re “worth” because “worth” is an indeterminate concept. What’s the market price for Afghanistan? Is it merely the sum of it’s economic output? Is it the value of a rogue state under control? Is it the value of pipleines crossing it? Is it the value of face saving? The value of proving that military adventurism is great?
    There are a lot of positive and negative ways to discuss the “value” of Afghanistan, and I don’t think any of them entirely gets at what we should be doing.
    There are humanitarian, strategic, political, face-saving, and probably lots of other reasons for being there or for exiting. These are waht need to be balanced. Not the GDP against our military spending.
    As I noted below someplace, money saved somewhere doesn’t necessarily get recaptured for spending elsewhere. So, “saving” money on Afghanistan doesn’t necessarily free up money for some other purpose.

    Reply

  16. Farid says:

    Steve,
    In most cases it makes sense to look at GDP-PPP but for Afghanistan, I think the $12 billion GDP is more accurate indicator.
    It is important to note that of the $12 billion GDP, about $9 billion of it is related to the war contracting and also drug trade.
    So if you exclude drug and war components, the real economy of Afghanistan is about $3 billion.
    We are spending $65 billion to “safeguard” a $3 billion dollar economy. In addition to our spending, other European are also spending billions to support their troops operations in Afghanistan.
    There is talk of increasing the troop size as well as the civilian development experts. Each civilian cost about $1 million per year with salary, danger and hardship premium, security, housing, travel & transport….so increase of 1000 civilians will cost us $1 billion per year. With the increase of security deterioration, how can the civilian be effective if they cannot move around freely.
    $1 billion can accomplish a lot in Afghanistan.
    We are better off giving small money to Afghan villages directly and let them decide how they will use the money. There should be an audit team to monitor the effectiveness of the use of the money. More effective, more money as incentive. This would be more effective of winning the hearts and minds as well as more effective capacity building by transferring the burden/responsibility to the local population.
    Less money, less troops!
    Farid

    Reply

  17. Dan Kervick says:

    “Refining a strategy is one thing. Looking desperately for some excuse to bug out is another. If Obama wants to teach the world that he doesn’t mean anything he says, that nobody should take either his threats or his promises seriously, he’s going the right way about it.”
    From what we know, that’s not what the administration debate is about at all, Nadine. It sounds like they are trying to take stock and achieve some strategic focus on an effort that has the feel of being made up as it goes along.
    They are apparently concerned about a strategic drift that has turned the war into a full-blown counterinsurgency campaign, but one that, even with the additional troops requested by McChrystal, will have nowhere near the manpower resources that COIN doctrine calls for. (My understanding is that the number COIN theory proposes for a country with the size and population of Afghanistan is 900,000.)
    But if the key issue is really the security of Pakistan, it’s government and its nukes; and if the importance of Afghanistan lies mainly in how Taliban activity in Afghanistan does or does not play a role in what is happening in Pakistan, then it is at least unclear whether they should be fighting a counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, rather than focus more on simply targeting networks running in and out of Pakistan.
    They were also forced by events to recalculate the options after the debacle of the Karzai election. If the government is now seen as illegitimate throughout much of the country, it is hard to see what kind of prospects there are for fighting a successful counterinsurgency designed to extend, by steps, the reach of the Kabul government over all of Afghanistan. They are supposedly entertaining options on supporting local leaders in various ways. But obviously that strategy has huge risks as well.
    Some folks in Washington would, for some reason, like them to keep improvising, and just take orders from the local commander whose job description does not include the big picture. I’m not sure what the motivation for this urgency is, or why these pundits think American interests are best served by thoughtless muddling along and sheer reactivity.

    Reply

  18. Outraged American says:

    Feinstein? *SNORTS*
    Drenched in blood & money that one is. What I loathe the most
    is her grandmotherly voice. Well, past everything she’s ever
    done.
    If you want to hear the difference between public persona and
    what you now know about Feinstein’s war profiteering, call-up
    her office.
    Guaranteed you’ll have to wait, because California and her 15
    quadrillion people get two Senators, just like Rhode Island and
    her 3 citizens, get two Senators.
    And Israel gets all the Senators, plus the House of Reps thrown
    in as well.
    Feinstein’s hold, with her voice that will remind you of soft,
    down comforters and warm apple pie, will bug the F out of
    anyone who actually has followed her Machievellian career. And
    no, I’m not going to look up the spelling.
    POA, is it true Feinstein’s considering a run for gov of CA? I’ve
    been doing a lot of vomiting in my mouth for the last 46 years,
    but this one made me spew.
    JohnH, good one.
    I seem to remember Bush the Dauphin promise not to engage in
    “nation building.” I guess Americans have always been prone to
    believe snake oil salesmen, and nuclear war-mongers.

    Reply

  19. Scott Baker says:

    This is why I wrote the article “Ending the War in Afghanistan on Our Own Terms” nearly a year ago. It shows how an historically proven solution could work to end the war, remove 60% of the Taliban’s funding immediately, and start to finally build a middle class in Afghanistan, without which, as even our Generals now admit, no military solution is possible. See the link above for the article.

    Reply

  20. ... says:

    it is almost always funny reading nadine… it’s like getting the fucked up twisted coverage one gets from much of mainstream media, where they expect you to believe the bullshit they’re putting before you, no questions asked…
    to quote her “and one reason is that Al Qaeda had declared Iraq the central front in global jihad, so that’s where most of the Al Qaeda fighters were.”
    that’s funny! can you read out another outdated and outlandish announcement from usa’s home security depot for me while yer at it?

    Reply

  21. Frank Dean says:

    At “street prices,” Afghanistan’s opium crop alone is worth $41 billion.
    CNN indicates the value of the Afghan opium crop is about $4 billion.
    http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/29/news/international/afghanistan_taliban_drugs.fortune/?postversion=2009093009
    A recent production estimate from the UN is 6900 tonnes.
    http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/press/releases/2009/September/afghan-opium-market-plummets-says-unodc.html
    Opium prices are estimated at $48 – $64 per kg. This gives a farm-gate value of about $330 million.
    Apparently an “age-old rule of thumb” is that 10 tonnes of opium yield 1 tonne of heroin.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/heroin/transform/
    So Afghanistan produces enough opium to yield 690 tonnes of heroin.
    A number of online sources suggested the street price of heroin is about $60 / gram.
    The potential street value of Afghanistan’s opium crop is therefore about $41.4 billion. (690 tonnes x 1000 kg/tonne x 1000 g/kg x $60.) (This assumes the street heroin is pure. Note that any adulteration of the heroin will increase the total street value.)
    Not all opium is made into heroin, and not all heroin reaches market, but I doubt it affects the result that much.
    Distribution has a cost, and presumably much of the profit goes to non-Afghani traffickers.
    I don’t think this makes Steve Clemons’ important point less valid, but it does indicate the magnitude of the financial forces arrayed against the rule of law in Afghanistan.

    Reply

  22. arthurdecco says:

    “We are spending — just on the military and not counting allied force commitments or NGO and other non-military aid — more than three times the entire GDP of the country.” Steve Clemons
    And you haven’t included the billions more Canada and the rest of the Nato contingent are throwing away on the one-time-use weapons and personnel trained to murder those Afghan citizens unwilling to bend to the US Monolith’s Will.
    Gee – like Clint mentioned above: could their be some legs to the almost 60 year old accusation that the Military Industrial Complex plays a huge role in the drafting of American Foreign Policy?

    Reply

  23. Dan Kervick says:

    “… and one reason is that Al Qaeda had declared Iraq the central front in global jihad, so that’s where most of the Al Qaeda fighters were.”
    Um, yeah. That’s *after* we invaded a place which was Ground Nowhere for global jihadism until US soldiers showed up.
    Anyway, it looks like Bush did nothing to shore up the Afghan government, took the last helicopter off the roof in Afghanistan and left Obama to either go all in or preside over the fall of Saigon.

    Reply

  24. Dan Kervick says:

    “At least Bush made it clear he was a war mongering piece of shit, instead of pretending to be an instrument of “change” like Obama has been doing.”
    Not really, PA. Bush ran on the promise to practice a more “modest” foreign policy preaching some middle-of-the-road Condi Rice liberal/realism mishmash about “a balance of power that favors freedom”.

    Reply

  25. JohnH says:

    Nadine–Since you seem to care about Afghanistan, why not send the IDF to fight the jihadis there? After all, the Pashtu may be one of the ten lost tribes of Israel. And Afghanistan would provide much bigger opportunities to commit war crimes against defenseless civilian populations than Gaza ever did. And it would relieve NATO of its quagmire!

    Reply

  26. nadine says:

    Dan, do you have amnesia? Afghanistan was in much better shape when Bush was President — and one reason is that Al Qaeda had declared Iraq the central front in global jihad, so that’s where most of the Al Qaeda fighters were. When Al Qaeda lost their base in Anbar, many fighters regrouped to Waziristan and Afghanistan deteriorated, aiding by the Pakistani unwillingness to put down the militants in the NW Territories and Qetta. The Pakistanis still think they can tame this beast and turn it on the Americans and the Indians without getting eaten themselves. The jury is out on that one.
    Look at the big picture if you are able.
    “It’s Bush’s fault!” begs the question. Barack Obama is President. He wanted the job, nobody made him run. All during the campaign and as recently as August he said Afghanistan was a war of necessity. Well is it or isn’t it?
    Refining a strategy is one thing. Looking desperately for some excuse to bug out is another. If Obama wants to teach the world that he doesn’t mean anything he says, that nobody should take either his threats or his promises seriously, he’s going the right way about it.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Just Bush, Dan? Don’t forget, Hillary was a willing participant in that fuckin’ con job, as was Harry Reid, and a slew of other “influential” Democrats.
    And whats changed? We are still in Iraq, and now we are escalating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For what? Al Qaeda??? If you still believe that shit, you’re daft. WHAT ARE WE IN AFGHANISTAN FOR, DAN???
    It won’t work Dan, you can’t separate Obama’s bullshit from Bush’s bullshit. In just about every arena in regards to the Middle East, Obama is just an extension of George Bush, and maybe, considering his campaign platform, a bit worse than Bush. At least Bush made it clear he was a war mongering piece of shit, instead of pretending to be an instrument of “change” like Obama has been doing.

    Reply

  28. Dan Kervick says:

    What I want to know is what the hell George Bush did for *seven years* in Afghanistan. Did he pay *any* attention while he was off chasing aluminum tubes and centrifuges in Iraq?

    Reply

  29. nadine says:

    Is the credibility of the United States and the President of the United States worth anything? Because less than two months ago, the President declared Afghanistan a “war of necessity.”
    Just asking here.

    Reply

  30. Clint says:

    Excellent. This should keep the Military Industrial Complex happy, and that’s what really counts.

    Reply

  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Democratic Blood Money and Senator Feinstein’s War Profiteering
    by Joshua Frank
    Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California silently resigned from her post on the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee (MILCON) late last week as her ethical limbo with war contracts began to surface in the media, including an excellent investigative report written by Peter Byrne for Metro in January. MILCON has supervised the appropriations of billions of dollars in reconstruction contracts since the Bush wars began.
    Feinstein, who served as chairperson and ranking member for the committee from 2001-2005, came under fire early last year in these pages for profiting by way of her husband Richard Blum who, until 2005, held large stakes in two defense contracting companies. Both businesses, URS and Perini, have scored lucrative contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last four years, and Blum has personally pocketed tens of millions of dollars off the deals his wife, along with her colleagues, so graciously approved.
    Here’s a brief rundown of the Feinstein family’s blatant war profiteering. In April 2003, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave $500 million to Perini to provide services for Iraq’s Central Command. A month earlier in March 2003, Perini was awarded $25 million to design and construct a facility to support the Afghan National Army near Kabul. And in March 2004, Perini was awarded a hefty contract worth up to $500 million for “electrical power distribution and transmission” in southern Iraq.
    But it is not just Perini that has made Feinstein and Blum wealthy. Blum also held over 111,000 shares of stock in URS Corporation, which is now one of the top defense contractors in the United States. Blum was an acting director of URS, which bought EG&G, a leading provider of technical services and management to the U.S. military, from the neocon packed Carlyle Group back in 2002.
    “As part of EG&G’s sale price,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle, “Carlyle acquired a 21.74 percent stake in URS – second only to the 23.7 percent of shares controlled by Blum Capital.”
    URS and Blum have since banked on the war in Iraq, attaining a $600 million contract through EG&G, which Sen. Feinstein permitted. As a result, URS has seen its stock price more than triple since the war began in March of 2003. Blum has cashed in over $2 million on this venture alone and another $100 million for his investment firm.
    And it is not just the Feinstein family that has benefited from the war – so too has the Democratic Party. Since 2000, the Democrats’ Daddy Warbucks has donated over $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Committee including leading Democrats including John Kerry, Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy, and even Barbara Boxer.
    Feinstein’s resignation from MILCON was the least the senator could do to atone for profiting off the spoils of war. But Feinstein wasn’t trying to atone, she seems to have been trying to cover her tracks instead by distancing herself from her post. If the Democratic Party had any foresight whatsoever it would return all the Blood Money donated by Blum. From there the Senate ought to hold hearings and examine Feinstein’s tenure as the chair and ranking member of MILCON and analyze every single contract she approved which benefited her husband’s respective companies.
    There is absolutely no question – Sen. Dianne Feinstein has a plethora of ethics violations she needs to account for at once.
    April 4, 2007
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/frank/frank36.html
    Note the date. Yet Feinstein is still a key figure in the Democratic party. Filthy rich, and drenched in blood, she epitomizes the despicable nature of the Washington elite. This blood sucking vampire does not “represent” the people anymore than Idi Amin did.
    And her war profiteering is not an anomoly amongst those that are supposed to “represent” us.
    http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/08/8155
    Published on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 by Inter Press Service
    US Lawmakers Invested in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars
    by Abid Aslam
    WASHINGTON – U.S. lawmakers have a financial interest in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a review of their accounts has revealed.
    Members of Congress invested nearly 196 million dollars of their own money in companies that receive hundreds of millions of dollars a day from Pentagon contracts to provide goods and services to U.S. armed forces, say nonpartisan watchdog groups.
    David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq, is to brief the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees on Tuesday and Wednesday. The latest findings are unlikely to have a significant impact on this week’s proceedings but could stoke anti-incumbent sentiment in this year of presidential and legislative elections.
    Lawmakers charged with overseeing Pentagon contractors hold stock in those very firms, as do vocal critics of the war in Iraq, says the Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP).
    Senator John Kerry, the Democrat from Massachusetts who staked his 2004 presidential bid in part on his opposition to the war, tops the list of investors. His holdings in firms with Pentagon contracts of at least five million dollars stood at between 28.9 million dollars and 38.2 million dollars as of Dec. 31, 2006. Kerry sits on the Senate foreign relations panel.
    Members of Congress are required to report their personal finances every year but only need to state their assets in broad ranges.
    Other top investors include Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican with holdings of 12.1 million – 49.1 million dollars; Rep. Robin Hayes, a North Carolina Republican (9.2 million – 37.1 million dollars); Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin (5.2 million – 7.6 million dollars); and Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat (2.7 million – 6.3 million dollars).
    Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Democrat and former governor of West Virginia who chairs the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, invested some 2.0 million dollars in Pentagon contractors, CRP says.
    Other panel chiefs who invested in defence firms include Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut Independent who presides over the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Rep. Howard Berman, the California Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
    In all, 151 current members of Congress — more than one-fourth of the total — have invested between 78.7 million dollars and 195.5 million dollars in companies that received defence contracts of at least 5.0 million dollars, according to CRP.
    These companies received more than 275.6 billion dollars from the government in 2006, or 755 million dollars per day, says budget watchdog group OMB Watch.
    The investments yielded lawmakers 15.8 million – 62 million dollars in dividend income, capital gains, royalties, and interest from 2004 through 2006, says CRP.
    Not all the firms deal in arms or military equipment. Some make soft drinks or medical supplies and military contracts represent a small fraction of their revenues. Many are leaders in their industries and, as such, feature in the investment portfolios of millions of ordinary people who invest at least a portion of their savings in mutual funds, which in turn hold stocks in up to hundreds of companies.
    “Giant corporations outside of the defence sector, such as Pepsico, IBM, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson, have received defence contracts and are all popular investments for both members of Congress and the general public,” says CRP.
    “So common are these companies, both as personal investments and as defence contractors, it would appear difficult to build a diverse blue-chip stock portfolio without at least some of them,” the group acknowledges.
    If some of the stocks appear innocent, aides say legislators also are. Some did not buy the stocks in question but inherited them. Many hold them in blind trusts, so called because the investments are handled by independent entities, at least theoretically without the politicians’ knowledge of how their assets are being managed.
    Even so, according to CRP, owning stock in companies under contract with the Pentagon could prove “problematic for members of Congress who sit on committees that oversee defence policy and budgeting.”
    Members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees held 3.0 million – 5.1 million dollars in companies specialising in weapons and other exclusively military goods and services, it added.
    Critics have assailed President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney for their ties to companies seen as benefiting from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Bush was characterised as pushing conflict in the interest of the oil fraternity whence he hailed.
    Before becoming vice president, Cheney headed Halliburton, a major player in the oil services industry and the object of controversies involving political connections, government contracts, and business ethics.
    Halliburton’s subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, was given multi-billion-dollar contracts to provide construction, hospitality, and other services to the U.S. military following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The contracts drew fire because of Cheney’s history and then-ongoing financial relationship with the firm, and because the company did not have to compete for the Pentagon’s business. The firm was renamed KBR Inc. after Halliburton spun it off last year.

    Reply

  32. DonS says:

    Let’s review this:
    – The military is integral and primary to the tactical aspects of conducting warfare that is deemed “necessary’ by the civilian/politcial portion of the American government. Nominally it has been the role of congress to approve war but for too many decades it has been a presidential decision to initiate war with the political debate following. Today the military seems an equal partner in strategic thinking and decisions. What is wrong with this picture? Dispersion (lack of accountability) for intelligence gathering, planning and analysis of course. But the red flag should go up when the military appears the tail wagging this dog.
    – the strategic factors involved in Afghanistan are pathetically minimal. Today Frank Rich provided the figure of 100 Al Quada active in the country. So we are doing what? Fighting a war to provide a fig leaf for Obama’s campaign slogan that reflected a truth that was salient 8 years ago? Reality says the cost/benefit of remaining engaged in Afghanistan is virtually non existent except for the arena it represents for US politics — the bill for this macho show being footed by the middle class Americans.
    — The military is probably broken. We don’t have the real facts because of the numerous factors that support the fiction of the success of the “all volunteer force”. The brass has not reached the breaking point — or is holding it’s breath until it can retire — where it screams that it cannot handle the mission (which of course is really being executed by the day to day forces that are trapped in their own equivalent of economic pressure that afflicts the rest of the population.)
    Reinstate the draft if you want a reality check about the hearts and minds of the American people, or those most vulnerable to be drafted. The great threat — continually stoked by the rabid right — is that we are on the verge of a revolution . . . that these hard questions can’t be asked or Glen Beck will call or the forces. And maybe we are. But it seems like it is the duty of the president to assess the situation and make the tough choices that call the bluff of those whose retrograde thinking continues to drag America down.

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And now the military wants more resources, more troops and more funding?”
    Well, Obama has already made clear the military will get “more funding”, and his use of mercenaries is increasing, so that takes care of the “resources”. And, more troops??? Who can doubt it, as there seems to be little difference between Obama and the sack of shit Bush when it comes to embroiling us in clusterfucks and debacles.
    Is there any area that Obama is not a huge disappointment?
    Last night, on CNN, they had Zinni on declaring that “unlike the Russians, we aren’t there to occupy”. What an utter load of Bush-like horseshit. Does this propaganda spewing scumbag actually think the Afghanis are buying into this crap? Does he think they are ignorant about what we are doing in, and to, Iraq?
    Where the hell is the change this posturing fraud Obama promised us? I thought we were finished with these “message force multipliers” feeding us a line of shit. Same oh same oh, different face, different name, different party, same old bullshit.
    .

    Reply

  34. JohnH says:

    This is just standard operating procedure. The US occupied Iraq when its GDP was only $67 Billion. And how much have we spent by now? Couldn’t we have done a merger and acquisition for less?
    Of course, no one knows the answer to how much has been spent, because DOD refuses to be audited.
    But some people are making out like bandits. Former Ambassador (thief) Peter Galbraith apparently pocketed $250 million for working with a Norwegian oil company to export Kurdish oil against Iraqi law.
    http://historiae.org/galbraith.asp
    His adamant protest of the election results in Afghanistan begs the question of whether his opposition stems from principle or from unfulfilled deals he had arranged with Abdullah, the loser.
    This is just one more example of reprehensible behavior from the foreign policy mob, this time from a free lancer.
    And for this America borrows $65 billion per year from China, Petro States, and the Social Security Trust Fund to fight shadows in Afghanistan?

    Reply

  35. jdledell says:

    Another way to look at this stupid waste of money is we could hire every adult male in Afganistan and pay him $6,000/year. The poulation of the country is about 28 million so a generous estimate would be 10 million males for a total payout of $60 billion. We could put the entire nation to work building roads, homes, hospitals and the standard of living in Afganistan would suddenly be the highest of any muslim country.
    The military approach is a stupid and far less effective than buyiong the people. Save our military for really necessary wars. In 2001 we probably could have paid the Taliban $100 billion to hand over Bin Ladin and crew and saved ourselves a Bushel of money.

    Reply

  36. Ali Gharib says:

    I think Tupac Shakur put it quite well: “You know it’s funny when it rains it pours/ they got money for wars but can’t feed the pour.”
    Lobe once noted to me that during Vietnam, we had 12,000 USAID people on the ground there. I think the total USAID workforce is now about a tenth of that. It’s a combination of the militarization of foreign policy – army trainers as part of CoIn – and the privatization of foreign aid and development. Inre the latter, Ken Silverstein had a nice chart last month that related that something like 80 percent of aid to Afghanistan never leaves the U.S.
    Hope all’s well, Steve.

    Reply

  37. Scott says:

    Excellent point, Steve. I think the writings and statements of Andrew Bacevich also need to be considered. He was on the Newshour on Oct. 5, paired with Gen. Keane, and asked all the right questions about whether such an extensive, resource-intensive approach was right for something that is not a vital national security interest. He concludes it is not.
    We are essentially engaged in a long-term nation building effort there, and will be even more so if we send thousands and thousands of more troops. I hope VP Biden continues to effectively advocate for more limited goals in the country.
    We could use some serious nation-building back here in America…

    Reply

  38. ... says:

    the money could be put to so many better uses then funding the usa military machine and all the leeches that feed off it.. it won’t happen until a different system is put in place… the one now is so entrenched, everything is directed towards it… open up a dept of love peace and happiness, or as lennon once said – give peace a chance…

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *