ACTION ALERT: Obama’s War on Libya Costing $100 Million a Day

March 23rd, 2011 - by admin

Robert Greenwald / Reader Supported News & Megan Scully / National Journal – 2011-03-23 02:27:38

ACTION ALERT: Not One Dime for another War

(March 23, 2011) — For the past year, rightwing billionaires Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers have insisted Congress slash spending on everything — except enormous tax cuts for themselves. Last month, their Tea Party Republican henchmen demanded $100 billion in immediate cuts, and $4 trillion in cuts over 10 years.

Yet last week, Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham had the nerve to demand a brand new war in Libya — one we can’t possibly afford.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost over $3 trillion, with no end in sight. And every single penny was charged to our uncontrolled national debt, even as Republicans endlessly denounced the immorality of that debt.

At a time when tyrants are murdering civilians in numerous countries, why are we bombing Libya? Is it just because McCain, Graham, and Joe Lieberman went on TV to demand it? Why do three TV Senators get to demand wars?

The Constitution requires majorities of both houses of Congress to authorize wars. Tea Party Republicans insisted they would strictly follow the Constitution. So why didn’t they hold a vote?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) will introduce an amendment to upcoming bills to block any funds for attacking Libya. Every “progressive,” “fiscal conservative,” and “Constitutional defender” who opposes this amendment will be exposed as an utter fraud and should be defeated next November.

ACTION — Tell Congress: Not One Dime for Libya

Day One: Obama Drops 100 Million Dollars
on Libya
Robert Greenwald / Reader Supported News

(March 22, 2011) — President Obama’s decision to participate in the strikes in Libya has already cost US taxpayers “well over $100 million,” according to the National Journal. [See story below] The Journal also relayed that, “the initial stages of taking out Libya’s air defenses could ultimately cost … coalition forces between $400 million and $800 million.”

The administration launched this new war (and yes, it is a war) with no official congressional authorization, little public debate and with a vague, possibly even non-existent, endgame in mind. It’s as if the lessons of the last decade are completely lost on policymakers in the United States.

Congress and the president should be ending the wars we were already in, not starting new ones in new Arab countries where even the hint of civilian casualties could quickly set fire to a bonfire of anti-US sentiment. For example:
“A day after a summit meeting in Paris set the military operation in motion, a vital Arab participant in the agreement expressed unhappiness with the way the strikes were unfolding. The former chairman of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, told Egyptian state media that he was calling for an emergency league meeting to discuss the situation in the Arab world, and particularly Libya.

“‘What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians,’ he said, referring to Libyan government claims that allied bombardment had killed dozens of civilians.”

This is what happens even when there’s no definitive proof of civilian casualties. And don’t kid yourself for a second: there will be civilian casualties. Just remember the opening days of the Iraq War, where none of the first 50 “precision” airstrikes hit their intended targets.

One would think that two horrendously expensive military disasters would be enough for the president and his advisers. After all, over in Afghanistan, we’re already spending $1 million per soldier, per year, and spending approved by Congress will bring the total price tag just for direct Afghanistan War costs to half-a-trillion dollars this year.

And that war is a caustic catastrophe that severely undermines US national interests. Is a war where more troops have died this year than any other year of the conflict, where more civilians have died than any other year of the conflict, where more US resources have been wasted than any other year of the conflict, not enough to hold the administration’s attention?

The Obama Administration shouldn’t think for a second that the fact that this expensive new military assault is taking place while policymakers are slashing basic services and public-sector jobs will be lost on the American people. This unwise military spending splurge has even caught the attention of leading Senate Republicans:
“Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Richard Lugar, R-Ind., says Congress should have had the opportunity to weigh in on what he said will be “a very expensive operation, even in a limited way.”

“‘It’s a strange time in which almost all of our congressional days are spent talking about budget, deficits, outrageous problems,’ Lugar said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. ‘And yet [at the] same time, all of this passes.'”

The American people want Congress and the administration to be ending the wars which we were already fighting before this weekend, not starting new ones. We couldn’t afford the other two wars we were already fighting before the cruise missiles started flying over Libya. This new war makes us less safe and spends precious resources on a war with an alarmingly vague end-game.

But hey, just remember the silver lining: Every time a Tomahawk cruise missile blows up a building in Libya (and everyone inside it), war-profiteer Raytheon makes $1.5 million.

Costs of Libya Operation Already Piling Up
Megan Scully / National Journal

(March 21, 2011) — With US and coalition forces bombarding Libya leader Muammer al-Qaddafi’s forces from the sea and air, the cost for the first day alone of the operation was well over $100 million with the total price tag expected to grow much higher the longer the strikes continue, analysts said.

Operation Odyssey Dawn appears to be focused on creating a limited no-fly zone mostly targeting Tripoli and other areas along the coast, which will require a wide range of military assets.

With allies expected to shoulder some of the bill, the initial stages of taking out Libya’s air defenses could ultimately cost US-led coalition forces between $400 million and $800 million, according to a report released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments earlier this month.

Maintaining a coastal no-fly-zone after those first strikes would cost in the range of $30 million to $100 million per week — not pocket change by any means, but far less than the $100 million to $300 million estimated weekly cost for patrolling the skies above the entire 680,000-square-mile country.

These unanticipated costs come at a time when the Pentagon is putting pressure on Capitol Hill to pass a fiscal 2011 defense budget. Continuing to operate under a stopgap continuing resolution through September, senior defense officials argue, would amount to a $23 billion cut to the military’s request for the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. The Pentagon wants $708.3 billion for this year, including $159.3 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Still, the Pentagon has the money in its budget to cover unexpected contingencies and can also use fourth-quarter dollars to cover the costs of operations now. “They’re very used to doing this operation where they borrow from Peter to pay Paul,” said Gordon Adams, the White House Office of Management and Budget’s associate director for national security during the Clinton administration.

Indeed, former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim estimated that the Defense Department would only need to send a request for supplemental funding to Capitol Hill if the US military’s share of operations expenses for Libya topped $1 billion.

Such a request would likely be met with mixed reactions in a Congress focused on deficit reduction. And, while many key lawmakers have been agitating for action in Libya, others have been more reluctant and have urged the Obama administration send them a declaration of war.

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Richard Lugar, R-Ind., says Congress should have had the opportunity to weigh in on what he said will be “a very expensive operation, even in a limited way.”

“It’s a strange time in which almost all of our congressional days are spent talking about budget, deficits, outrageous problems,” Lugar said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. “And yet [at the] same time, all of this passes.”

For the U.S. military, the highest costs come in the form of pricey munitions, fuel for aircraft and combat pay for deployed troops — all factors that will pile up each day U.S. forces remain at the helm of the operation.

On the first day of strikes alone, U.S.-led forces launched from ships stationed off the Libyan coast 112 long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, which cost in the range of $1 million to $1.5 million apiece. That is $112 million to $168 million for the first day’s strike in missiles alone. The military will eventually refill its stockpile though those costs could be pushed off for months or more.

Pentagon budget watchers said the deployment of guided missile destroyers and submarines would not put a major dent in the Pentagon’s accounts because the ships were already deployed to the region.

But the US military on Sunday tapped its B-2 bombers, and F-15 and F-16 fighter jets to strike a number of targets in and around Tripoli, which will undoubtedly force an immediate uptick in the military’s operations and maintenance expenditures, including fuel costs.

On the personnel front, special pay for soldiers involved in the operation will also kick in immediately — unlike the munitions costs, which the Pentagon can defer.

Ultimately, the length and scale of the operation will be key to its total costs to the United States. A week-long operation involving a limited number of U.S. troops would be manageable within the existing budget. But if the operation drags into weeks and months, the Pentagon would likely have to do some maneuvering to replenish its accounts.

Complicating matters is the fact that most allied militaries, which operate on a fraction of the Defense Department’s yearly allowance, are grappling with budget pressures of their own. While the Pentagon hopes to transfer control to allies in the coming days, the longer the operations over Libya continue, the more difficult it will be for coalition partners to take the lead.

“If it goes on more than a month, we’re going to be in the forefront [of operations] or we’re going to let Qaddafi stick around,” said Zakheim, who served during the George W. Bush administration. “The choices aren’t very pleasant.”

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment report, a historical analysis of the price for similar operations, provided costs for several different scenarios, ranging from a sweeping and high-priced effort to impose and maintain a no-fly zone over the entire country to a much smaller no-fly zone with limited flyovers and few, if any, attacks on Libyan air defenses or ground forces. The current operation appears to fall somewhere between those two scenarios.

Zack Cooper, a senior analyst at the think tank and the co-author of the study, acknowledged the operation’s costs are still too difficult to estimate because of lingering questions following the weekend strikes.

“Since we don’t yet know the length, magnitude, or degree of U.S. involvement, any cost projections are going to be very rough estimates at this point,” Cooper said.

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