Is this 2014 or 2003?
I’m flinching at a painful sense of déjà vu as we hear calls for military intervention in Iraq, as President Obama himself — taunted by critics who contend he’s weak — is said to be considering drone strikes there.
Our 2003 invasion of Iraq should be a warning that military force sometimes transforms a genuine problem into something worse. The war claimed 4,500 American lives and, according to a mortality study published in a peer-reviewed American journal, 500,000 Iraqi lives. Linda Bilmes, a Harvard expert in public finance, tells me that her latest estimate is that the total cost to the United States of the Iraq war will be $4 trillion.
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Disarray at the VA Kennedy School’s Bilmes has pragmatic proposals for presidential commission, system overhaul
America Is Too Broke to Rescue Ukraine
Peter Beinart in The Atlantic March 17
If only America were fighting more wars, Russia would never have taken Crimea. That’s basically the argument John McCain made last Friday in The New York Times. “For five years,” he complained, “Americans have been told that ‘the tide of war is receding’.… In Afghanistan and Iraq, military decisions have appeared driven more by a desire to withdraw than to succeed.” As a result, “Obama has made America look weak,” which emboldened Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.
I have no earthly idea what McCain means by ‘succeeding’ in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we can be pretty sure that in addition to claiming more American lives, it would require a lot more American money. Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a 2013 report by Linda Bilmes, a public policy lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, are the most expensive wars in U.S. history, costing the U.S. between $4 and $6 trillion when you factor in medical care. For Ukraine’s sake, McCain believes, that number needs to go up.
The number of veterans who have applied for and been awarded disability benefits just keeps going up. It is far in excess of our original predictions. The latest report from the Veterans Benefits Administration shows that only 1.8% of disability claims evaluated to date have been denied. The other 98.2% of claims have been approved. This brings the total number of GWOT veterans who have been “service-connected” for disabilities to 810,307 Nearly 50% of all veterans have filed claims.
- Total Living GWOT Veterans: 1,847,047
- Total who have filed disability claims: 914,193
- Total who have been awarded disability benefits: 810,307
- Total claims denied: 15,105
- Pending claims: 168,702
As usual, ridiculous projects with massive cost overruns at the US taxpayer expense. This time, the US has spent more than $107 million on new office building for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, during which the money has been squandered and is now so over-budget and behind schedule that the US has run out of funds to complete the project.