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What We’ve Paid For War In Afghanistan And Iraq

Memo Pad National News Politics

What We’ve Paid For War In Afghanistan And Iraq


War is hell.

Major General Harold Greene could certainly tell you all about that — but, sadly, he’s dead. On August 5, General Greene became the highest-ranking American soldier to die in our unfathomable, 13-year war in Afghanistan, joining 2,339 other servicemembers who’ve paid the ultimate price for being sent by warmongering politicians into that fight for… well, for what?

No president or congressional leader has ever offered a coherent or credible answer, much less a compelling one, for why our troops have been made to sacrifice so much for so little. Indeed, how bitterly ironic that the general was not killed by the Taliban or al Qaeda, whom we’re supposedly fighting, but by one of the Afghan government’s own soldiers, whom we’re supposedly helping.

Another blunt reminder of the hellish absurdity of our political leaders’ quick-draw approach to war can be seen in a recent report by the Congressional Research Service. Military budget analysts in this non-partisan congressional agency keep track of how much the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are costing us taxpayers. The tally has now topped a trillion dollars — and that amount doesn’t count the cost of the the future health care bill for veterans or the enormous interest payments that’ll be made on that debt, which will multiply the trillion-dollar outlay three- or fourfold.

And the meter is still running. The Pentagon, White House, and Congress intend to keep a contingent of soldiers and trainers in both countries for the foreseeable future, plus provide billions more of our tax dollars to both countries for building their infrastructure and education systems. Meanwhile, a trillion dollars and so many American lives later, Iraq is in chaos and falling apart, and Afghanistan is mired in corruption and facing a Taliban takeover.

And — ready or not — here we go again. Our military has been hurled back into the chaos of Iraq. Apparently, “Mission Accomplished” is “Mission Never-Ending.”

We’re told that, for now, America will provide only jet fighters, drones, weaponry, humanitarian airdrops, military advice, training — and, of course, our money — to the cause of making this unworkable country work. At least President Obama has put his foot down and sensibly pledged that there will be no American “boots on the ground.”

However, in the politics of Iraq, don’t count on “sensible” surviving the chaos. The Shia-Sunni-Kurdish divide still rages on there, now exacerbated by the theocratic Islamic State’s sudden sadistic invasion. Plus, Iraq’s former prime minister (a corrupt autocrat whom our foreign policy geniuses installed during the disastrous Bush-Cheney reign of errors) was so detested by practically everyone that the parliament dumped him. However, he added slapstick to Iraq’s chaos by desperately trying to cling to power, finally having to be almost physically hauled away.

But the least sensible factor affecting Iraq is our own red-faced, militaristic, warmongering members of Congress, demanding that we must go to war. For example, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham is filled with bloodlust over the ferocious rise of the Islamic State in Iraq, so he says we have no choice but to return there to destroy the fanatics.

Of course, by “we,” congressional warriors like Lindsey don’t mean them, their loved ones, or anyone else they actually know.

Since the end of World War II, practically every American president, backed by Congress, has sent our troops to die in wars of lies and political flimflam. From Vietnam to Grenada to Iraq, our soldiers have been in senseless wars nearly non-stop for 70 years. It’s time to tell the perennial political sword-rattlers that they should wield the swords themselves. War is hell…and this one is stupid.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

AFP Photo/Mauricio Lima

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Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a nationally syndicated columnist and one of America's most prominent progressive voices. His column carried by more than 75 publications across the country. Prior to becoming a writer, Hightower served as Texas Agricultural Commission from 1982 to 1991.

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  1. rustacus21 August 20, 2014

    Probably the next question is why, in 2000, the American voter didn’t ask themselves the question, of why would we risk our prosperity, security & national prestige, on an anxious, psychically violent, obviously culturally & historically unaware George W. Bush (even though he graduated from Yale w/a BA in HISTORY of all subjects!!!), when we knew full well, from his co-writing of the book, ‘Putting People First’, w/future President Bill Clinton & being the natural heir apparent to the legacy of the most successful Presidency of the 2nd half of the 20th century, that he was able, capable, experienced & supremely knowledgeable of HIS OWN ADMINISTRATIVE (ESPECIALLY coming in handy, in the months prior to 9/11, ironically…) INHERITANCE, would the citizenry not vote for him OVERWHELMINGLY? Propaganda. Not having our COLLECTIVE heads on straight! Seeing differences, when, as our Declaration, Constitution & Bill of Rights INSTRUCTS US, our “…lives, fortunes & sacred honor…” are in each to the others BEST INTERESTS, what’s really our problem here? Even after Vietnam, misadventures in Central Asia (including Afghanistan v. the Soviet Union), Central & South America, could we NOT have known this was coming (from conservatives Republicans)? Being NOW trapped in this demented cycle of conservative-preoccupied violence & conflict, how do we now save President Obama from himself? Just think what the on-going Democratization initiatives in both Iraq & Afghanistan, ca. 2000, had been continued by President Gore? What would the world look like now, one must contemplate…

    1. CPAinNewYork August 22, 2014

      The question was asked, but the GOP refused to answer it. Instead, they gorged themselves on no-bid contracts for scumbag companies like Halliburton.

      Considering the GOP’s aversion to the truth, it would have been a waste of time to ask the question.

      1. TerryW September 5, 2014

        The raping and pillaging of the United States.


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