How much is Obama's new war on Iraq and Syria going to cost? If you believe the woman who was right about the costs of the last US war on Iraq, Harvard Professor Linda J. Bilmes, it's going to cost a fortune.
In a critically important article Professor Bilmes wrote for the Boston Globe last week, the author of The Three Trillion Dollar War (with Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz) points out that although the US has already spent approximately one billion dollars thus far on President Obama's plan to "degrade and destroy" ISIS, the price tag is going to climb steeply — and quickly — from there.
Direct costs of the president's plan will likely be on the order of $22 billion per year, but that is only the start.
In addition to the bill for military operations, there are costs associated with veterans’ benefits, depreciation of equipment, humanitarian aid, covert action, and paying (as the US frequently does) for the military efforts of our coalition “partners.”
She also points out that just when there was talk about the need to step back from the limitless Pentagon appropriations of the past 13 years, this new "crisis" has put all talks of military spending cut-backs off the table. On the contrary, in addition to the considerable direct costs associated with US actions in the Middle East, general spending on the US military will likely increase rather than decrease. Though talks of the sequester decreasing the growth of US military spending was always a lot of hot air, with this new crisis the sequester has a final stake drive through its heart.
What will be the total price tag per year, then, for the president's new war in Iraq and Syria? Concludes Professor Bilmes:
The combined cost of abandoning planned cutbacks at the Defense Department, new spending to combat the Islamic State, and extra foreign military assistance means that America will wind up spending up to $100 billion more on military activities than we had expected this year alone.
And all this spending says nothing about the president's chance of success in his approach to ISIS. The early notices are in, and they are not very good. Ever eager to please interventionists in the US government, the media is overflowing with tales of how the US bombing strategy is not working and boots on the ground are absolutely essential.
Although "happy days" never ended for the military-industrial complex, it can be said that with this new "threat," which will require massive resources (i.e. the stuff that the military-industrial complex produces), it will be "happy days are here again" for the rich elites who keep selling bombs as the only way for the US to relate to the rest of the world.
This isn't going to end well.
This article first appeared at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.