With Nearly $6 Trillion Spent Since 9/11, the US Military Can No Longer Afford to Dominate the Planet
November 15, 2018 AntiWar.com & CBS Evening News
Starting in late 2001, the US has engaged in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere around the world. Many of those wars have become more or less permanent operations. Now, a new report by a bipartisan Congressional commission says the US could lose a war against China or Russia. The warhawks claim the Pentagon is "underfunded" and the military needs more money because, unlike China and Russia, the US goal is not self-protection but the maintenance of global power.
US Has Spent $5.9 Trillion on Wars Since 2001 Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
Crawford_Costs of War Estimates Through FY2019 .pdf
(November 14, 2018) -- A new report from Brown University is aiming to provide a close estimate of the cost of the overall cost to the US government of its myriad post-9/11 wars and assorted global wars on terror. The estimate is that $5.933 trillion has been spent through fiscal year 2019.
This is, of course, vastly higher than official figures, owing to the Pentagon trying to oversimplify the costs into simply overseas contingency operations. It is only when one considers the cost of medical and disability care for soldiers, and future such costs, along with things like the interest on the extra money borrowed for the wars, that the true cost becomes clear.
That sort of vast expenditure is only the costs and obligations of the wars so far, and with little sign of them ending, they are only going to grow. In particular, a generation of wars is going to further add to the medical costs for veterans' being consistently deployed abroad.
Starting in late 2001, the US has engaged in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere around the world. Many of those wars have become more or less permanent operations, with no consideration of ending them under any circumstances.
A new report by a bipartisan Congressional commission says the US could lose a war against China or Russia. CBS News national security contributor and former deputy CIA director Michael Morell explains.
(November 14, 2018) -- America's military edge is diminished, and in some cases erased -- just as rival countries are getting savvier, stronger and more aggressive, according to a new analysis by a panel of former security officials and military experts. The stark conclusion: America could lose the next war it fights.
"America's ability to defend its allies, its partners and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt," the report's authors wrote. "It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia."
The panel is called the National Defense Strategy Commission, and is made up of 12 former national security officials and experts. It was tasked one year ago with evaluating the nation's defenses, and reviewing the National Defense Strategy, a comprehensive planning document by the Defense Department that lays out military objectives.
"Russia and China are challenging the United States, its allies and its partners on a far greater scale than has any adversary since the Cold War's end," the authors wrote. "If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency or China in a war over Taiwan," the report warned.
"Americans could face a decisive military defeat."
Adversaries have studied US military strategies post-9/11 -- and learned how to counter them, said commission co-chair Eric Edelman, in an interview with Intelligence Matters host and CBS News senior national security contributor Michael Morell, who is also among the members of the commission and who helped write its report.
"They've learned from what we've done. They've learned from our success," said Edelman, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. "And while we've been off doing a different kind of warfare, they've been prepared for a kind of warfare at the high end that we really haven't engaged in for a very long time. What that means is that we can't fight traditionally, the way we have fought," he said.
The commission identified a set of six trends it said had fundamentally altered the strategic environment now facing the United States:
* The return of major-power competition from authoritarian powers like Russia and China;
* The rise and expanded military capabilities of aggressive regional challengers like Iran and North Korea;
* Evolving and intensifying threats from jihadist groups;
* Rising "gray-zone" aggression, which includes strong-arm diplomacy and economic coercion, media manipulation and cyberattacks, paramilitary and proxy forces;
* Proliferation of advanced technology -- hypersonics and AI, for instance -- that is eroding US advantages and creating new vulnerabilities;
* And political dysfunction -- budgetary instability and reduced defense investment.
"We have basically been underfunding the Defense Department for quite a period of time," Edelman said. "I think there's been a disposition to believe that we spend so much money on defense [that] we should be able to deal with all comers. But what I think people have lost sight of is that the international environment has just become so much more complicated."
The commission called for an increase in the defense budget of between 3-5 percent above inflation, or else "DOD should alter the expectations of the strategy and America's global strategic objectives."
The report also recommended an independent commission be appointed to review US cyber policy. "It is painfully clear that America is not competing or deterring its adversaries as effectively as it should in cyberspace," the report said.
"We've got to match the kind of intellectual firepower they're bringing to the problem with that kind of firepower of our own," Edelman told Morell.
Previous defense strategy reviews had already issued warnings that America was risking national security crises if it did not better maintain or, in some cases, immediately bolster its military and operational capabilities.
The 2018 commission said, however, that it believed America had already "reached the point of a full-blown national security crisis."
"In this report," Edelman said, "I think what we had to wrestle with was the consequences of all those warnings having been ignored."
The Defense Department said in a statement that it welcomed the release of the report and said it had "engaged extensively with the Commission throughout its deliberations." It said that the report's description of the security environment faced by the US is "a stark reminder of the gravity of these issues, and a call to action." The Defense Department's statement went on to say it would "carefully consider each of the recommendations put forward by the Commission as part of continuing efforts to strengthen our nation's defense.
The commission's co-chairs will testify about their findings before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees about the report's contents later this month.
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