Whatever the merits of US military action in Afghanistan and
Iraq, one thing seems clear: It's very expensive.
If this week's White House request for $196 billion more for
Afghanistan and Iraq is included, total costs for these operations
will reach about $808 billion by the end of next year, according to
figures compiled by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary
That's more than the Gulf War ($88 billion in today's dollars),
or Korea ($456 billion), or Vietnam ($518 billion). It's within
shouting distance of the price of the Korea and Vietnam conflicts
But the US economy is much larger today than it was in, say, 1968
- meaning the financial burden on the nation posed by these costs is
And despite the rising price tag, Congress is unlikely to make
significant trims in the administration's latest war-appropriations
request. Democratic Party leaders just don't have the votes.
"For fear of being accused of not supporting the troops, Congress
will not deviate much from what the administration has requested,"
predicts Gordon Adams, an American University professor of
President Bush's Oct. 22 request to Congress for $196 billion in
supplemental defense funds for fiscal year 2008 is a revision of a
previous $150 billion request upon which lawmakers had not yet
A large portion of the extra $46 billion would be channeled into
Army procurement - specifically, the purchase of new, more bomb-
proof armored vehicles, and general replacement of munitions
expended and equipment worn out from years of fighting.
Operations and maintenance would also get additional funding.
"The bill provides for basic needs, like bullets and body armor,
protection against [improvised explosive devices], and mine-
resistant, ambush-protected vehicles," said Mr. Bush on Monday. "It
also funds training missions, vital embassy programs, improvements
in Iraqi security forces, and intelligence operations that protect
Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are funded separately from the
overall defense budget. Congress has yet to pass the
administration's $481 billion request for general 2008 Pentagon
Given that the Iraq war has now stretched on for over four years,
it's time to stop paying for it via "emergency" supplemental
appropriations, according to some experts. …