T Nation

Another Question for the Warmongers


Seeing as though this article points out, these police actions/wars by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan have been financed by monopoly money (aka national debt), if this practice stopped, how much of a revenue increase would you personally tolerate to fund these wars?

Wars drove up national debt
September 21, 2011 12:05 AM
Posted in:



debt ,
war on terror

Ten years into the war on terror, the U.S. has largely succeeded in its attempts to destabilize al-Qaida and eliminate its leaders. But the cost has been enormous, and our decisions about how to finance it have profoundly damaged the U.S. economy.

We chose to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan with a small, all-volunteer force, and we supplemented the military presence with a heavy reliance on civilian contractors. These decisions not only placed enormous strain on the troops but dramatically pushed up costs.

To date, the United States has spent more than $2.5 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon spending spree that accompanied it and a battery of new homeland security measures instituted after Sept. 11.

How have we paid for this? Entirely through borrowing. Spending on the wars and on added security at home has accounted for more than one-quarter of the total increase in U.S. government debt since 2001. And not only did we fail to pay as we went for the wars, the George W. Bush administration also successfully pushed to cut taxes in 2001 and again in 2003, which added further to the debt. This toxic combination of lower revenues and higher spending has brought the country to its current political stalemate.

There is only one other time in U.S. history that a war was financed entirely through borrowing, without raising taxes: when the Colonies borrowed from France during the Revolutionary War.

Even if we were to leave Afghanistan and Iraq tomorrow, our war debt would continue to rise for decades. Future bills will include such things as caring for military veterans, replacing military equipment, rebuilding the armed forces and paying interest on all the money we have borrowed.

At this point, the bill for future medical and disability benefits is estimated at $600 billion to $900 billion, but the number will almost surely grow as hundreds of thousands of troops still deployed abroad return home.

And it isn't just in some theoretical future that the wars will affect the nation's economy: They already have. The invasion of Iraq and the resulting instability in the Persian Gulf were among the factors that pushed oil prices up from about $30 a barrel in 2003 to historic highs five years later. Higher oil prices threatened to depress U.S. economic activity, prompting the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates and loosen regulations. These policies were major contributors to the housing bubble and the financial collapse that followed.

For years, the public failed to adequately question how it was possible that we could spend and borrow so freely, with so few consequences. But now the painful legacy of these decisions has become clear. Throughout the past decade, Congress routinely approved huge "emergency" appropriations to pay for the wars. This process pre-empted the usual scrutiny and debate that accompanies large spending bills.

Our response to Sept. 11 has weakened both the current economy and our future economic prospects.

Nearly 10 years into the Afghanistan war, the violence in that country shows little sign of abating. August was the deadliest month of the war yet for U.S. troops. The surge in violence comes as NATO is drawing down and handing over security control to national forces. But tens of thousands of U.S. troops are scheduled to remain in Afghanistan through the end of 2014.

The costs of fighting the war on terror have already been far higher than they needed to be. The U.S. should not take on even greater war debt without understanding the true costs of continuing down that path.

Linda J. Bilmes is a faculty member at Harvard University. Joseph E. Stiglitz is a professor at Columbia University and the recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics.



If we weren't wasting mountains of money on unconstitutional social welfare programs we would have plenty of money for constitutionally mandated military actions. This says nothing whatsoever about the legitimacy of any given war. Only that we are not in debt primarily because of a military that is actually called for in our founding documents.


Correct...the amount spent on social services for illegal immigrants each year alone could fund a year in Afghanistan.


Prove it.

The truth about the government's social welfare spending is that VERY little of it doesn't go to those who've paid into it. Social security pays out in proportion to what a person paid in during their working years and currently has quite a bit of money sitting in reserves, which the government uses to gain interest and fund other things, like war. Then there are a lot of benefits, which are counted in the "welfare" portion of the US budget, for retired government employees and veterans and those make up another large chunk of the "social welfare spending".

On the other hand, we're financing the wars mostly on loans.


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I am sorry to say but except for the last part you have no idea what you are talking about.


The real question is why we should tolerate using a military force to go around the world looking for other people's "problems to solve" in the first place.


I agree. A dictator is killing his own people? Not cool, but not our problem. Perhaps we cut off all trade and talks and other business with them, but why do we go in, make a mess, fund the recovery, and then gain much of nothing.
Other foreign aid? Why is it assumed that I want to fund that?
Even humanitarian causes overseas...these should be funded via private contributions.


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Sorry in this instance you are very wrong 113 BILLION a year to illegal immigrants.


And the first part of your statement is just full of fail.

The last part COULD be very true, but I don't have the time to dig through Google Docs for the budget info.


A couple decades late....and after our overlords became all buddy-buddy with him.

The US government has no moral leg to stand on, EVER.


That was overdue. Why he wasn't taken out years ago is cause for question


WOW! I mean WOW! and LOL!

Oleena, what color is the sky in your world?


For the 2010 fiscal year, the president's base budget of the Department of spending on "overseas contingency operations" brings the sum to [b]$663.84 billion.[/b][1][dead link][2]

When the budget was signed into law on October 28, 2009, the final size of the Department of Defense's budget was $680 billion, $16 billion more than President Obama had requested. An additional $37 billion supplemental bill to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was expected to pass in the spring of 2010, but has been delayed by the House of Representatives after passing the Senate.

The federally budgeted (see below) military expenditure of the United States Department of Defense for fiscal year 2010, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is[8]:
Components Funding Change, 2009 to 2010
Operations and maintenance $283.3 billion +4.2%
Military Personnel $154.2 billion +5.0%
Procurement $140.1 billion â??1.8%
Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation $79.1 billion +1.3%
Military Construction $23.9 billion +19.0%
Family Housing $3.1 billion â??20.2%
Total Spending 683.7 billion +3.0%

As for my claim that our payments to illegal immigrants are small compared to social security:

"In 2011, there will be 56 million beneficiaries and 158 million workers paying in. In 2010, total income was $781.1 billion and expenditures were $712.5 billion"

Do the math: 712.5/113= 6.3. Social security spending is 6.3x greater than monies given to illegal immigrants.


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Jesus Olenna, I was using ONE group as an example....the total entitlement system is a fucking GIGANTIC total. (not to mention you lumped Iraq AND Afghanistan together in your figures...I was only referencing Afghanistan)

And you did not address your other completely short bus statement either....

"The truth about the government's social welfare spending is that VERY little of it doesn't go to those who've paid into it"



Bu we could call it something else.

It would be totally ok then.

See, I pay attention.


Did he actually blow up the plane?

If not then all living US presidents should be brought to "justice".


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The American president that is.

All other presidents, not so much.