13 Nov, 2017
© Baz Ratner / Reuters
The total estimated cost of US wars between 2001 and 2018 is about $23,386 for every American taxpayer, which is more than three times the amount ($7,740) calculated by the Pentagon, according to an analysis by Brown University’s Cost of War project.
It has been estimated that by the end of this year the US will have spent in total $5.6 trillion on wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
The cost looks set to increase with NATO planning to put more troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
RT spoke to Republican Virginia State Senator Richard Black to discuss these latest findings.
“There is no doubt that we are spending an immense sum of money on the Middle East re wars. The real question is that we are spending $23,000 per taxpayer, that is what we have already spent. There are going to be future costs. We are moving more troops into Afghanistan. There is no question that eventually we will lose that war, it is just a question when we decide to pull out. And the fact of the matter is that by fighting these wars. I think the real question is: are we actually increasing terrorism?” Black told RT.
Black recalled that “when we began in 2001, Al-Qaeda amounted to perhaps several hundred or maybe a thousand people in Afghanistan. We have fought now for 16 years there non-stop. We’ve lost many thousands of people. I think they are 56,000 grievously wounded casualties.”
“At the same time, we’ve gone from having a very relatively small group of terrorists to where at its peak ISIS was fielding multiple mechanized divisions supported by tens of thousands of infantry. It seems like the more that we engage in the war on terror, the more terrorists we produce,” he continued.
In Black’s opinion, “the fact of the matter is that we have funneled American weapons to terrorists, particularly to Al-Qaeda and its allies. But in some cases, I fear that some of our weapons intentionally or not, have worked their way to ISIS and have resulted in just a sea of bloodshed in the Middle East. There is no doubt the American strategy in the Middle East has been fantastically costly.”
“A third of our entire national debt going back to the founding of the nation results from our decision to embark on wars of aggression in the Middle East,” he added.
According to Black, the US needs “a very fundamental change” in its strategy.
“It would begin by closing down our bases in Syria, ending the war against the Syrian people and beginning to draw down our military presence in many places across the globe,” he explained.
According to the Virginia senator, the US started the whole thing by attacking Libya, which was “a neutral, non-belligerent country,” and “the most prosperous of all of the North African countries” before the US “bombed them utterly into oblivion…”
In Black’s view, the problem is that the US now has two parties of war.
“The Republican Party is a party of war, and the Democratic Party has always been a party of war. The American people do not like war, but there is no force of opposition against war,” he said.
“It is interesting that the acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said, ‘Do we really have to do everything that we are doing in the world?’ He talked about the stress the soldiers were under, and he said we have got thousands of troops deployed in 140 countries. He said, ‘How relevant is this to national security?’ And I would say that a great deal of it, perhaps half, perhaps two-thirds is not really relevant to national security at all,” Black pointed out.
“Whenever we inject American forces into a foreign country, as we are doing in many of the African countries today, it acts as a point for terrorists to coalesce around. They are able to go after the people and say ‘Look, we are occupied by a foreign army.’ No country wants to be occupied by a foreign army. And so it is a tremendous recruiting tool. Frankly, I think if we just get out of it and let some of these countries handle their own affairs, they’d muddle through, we could send them military aid support. But keep American troops out of there; stop all of the drone attacks and all of the bombings. Because I think they are very counterproductive. I think they are hurting the American image around the world very badly,” Black claimed.