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.
The violence in Iraq continues to escalate, according to the latest UN figures, with more than 650 Iraqi civilians killed in November 2013.
The UN reports that 7,157 civilians and 952 security forces have been killed so far in 2013. Perhaps most tragically, so many of these innocent victims have been killed while doing the most mundane daily tasks – shopping for food, drinking coffee in a cafe, etc. Meanwhile, the failure of the Iraqi security forces to quell this violence is weighing heavily on the negotiations in Afghanistan, where the Loyal Jinga voted overwhelming to ask US forces to stay on pretty much indefinitely. No one really wants this outcome but everyone is fearing the kind of resurgent strife that is growing in Iraq.