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Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Buttering Up the Pentagon

Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Buttering Up the Pentagon

Recently, the Pentagon’s top Asia official, Randall Schriver, told senators that the Afghan war would cost this country’s taxpayers $45 billion in 2018, including $5 billion for the Afghan security forces, $13 billion for U.S. forces in that country, and $780 million in economic aid.  How the other $26 billion would be spent is unclear and, given the Pentagon’s record in these years, Schriver’s estimate could prove a low-ball figure.  All in all, it’s just another year in this country’s endless war there.  Still, if Schriver is on the mark, in Afghanistan alone the American taxpayer will spend more than a fifth of the $200 billion the Trump administration is urging Congress to put up for the rebuilding of America’s crumblinginfrastructure. (The estimated cost of the full war on terror in President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, according to the Costs of War Project, is approximately… yep, you guessed it: $200 billion.) And, of course, all of that is next to nothing when compared to the $5.6 trillionthe Costs of War Project estimates the war on terror has already cost us (with certain future expenses added in).

Under the circumstances, isn’t it remarkable that the government has sent so many taxpayer dollars tumbling down the rabbit hole of its failed wars and the “reconstruction” scams in Afghanistan and Iraq that once passed for “nation-building”? (By 2014, the U.S. had already sunk more money into “reconstructing” Afghanistan than it had once put into the Marshall Plan to rebuild all of Western Europe — and compare the results of each of those investments!)  More remarkable still, for all the bitter political disputes in these years about how government money should be spent, there has never been real disagreement here, no less significant protest, over the decision to put such staggering sums into America’s wars.

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