Owen Harries: Costs of a needless war
A most important article for All to read! The wars of Iraq and Afghanistan extend far beyond destruction of Terrorist elements and/or al Qaida. The current administration wants to leave a historical legacy, while filling their own coffers with rich Government contracts for their Corporate friends. Many, or Most, of this author's readers disagree with the author's position of the current American military ventures. Foreign attitudes, though, are growing increasingly attuned to this author's views on the Wars. Excerpts:
It is still a fundamental strategic axiom that the availability of means should not determine ends, and there are very powerful reasons why the US, even as the "sole remaining superpower", should be very parsimonious in using its military force actively
Barry McCaffrey, a well-informed and, up to now, dedicated supporter of the war, has recently maintained: "The US Army and the marines are too under-manned and under-resourced to sustain this security policy beyond next [autumn]. They are starting to unravel."
Today we are witnessing in the US not only substantial increases in government expenditure, but a serious diminution of the rule of law in the form of a partial suspension of habeas corpus, a circumventing of the Geneva Convention, a justification of the use of torture, and greater secrecy.
(As I write, it is reported that the Bush administration is classifying documents at the rate of 125 a minute or, if my arithmetic is accurate, 180,000 a day!)
as a general approach to political action a commitment to hold undeviatingly to a line of action, regardless of circumstances or consequences, is foolish and dangerous.
As always in politics, circumstances are crucial. To ignore them and to insist that the mission must proceed regardless is to invite recourse to that old play on Kipling's lines: "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you have probably misunderstood the situation."
Indeed, prominent US Republican senator Chuck Hagel virtually said as much last month: "The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It is like they are making it up as they go along. The reality is that we are losing in Iraq."
Owen Harries, a former editor of The National Interest in Washington, DC, is a visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney.
There are other paramount economic reasons for aborting the present Wars as quickly as possible. The Cost of rebuilding the U.S. military Main Force structure from the deterioration now endured is estimated by this author (and some Others) at $180 billion, with that figure growing by $3 bn per month of continued operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Future Disability payments can be estimated as increasing (containing Survivor Benefits) by $8 million per year for every additional month spent in Operations in the two countries. Iraq, itself, can be estimated to have lost 2% of its Labor Force to Death or Disability payments since the start of the War.
Can the War in Iraq be won?
Islamic Fundamentalists worldwide will finance Terrorist activity in Iraq, as long as American military forces are on Iraqi soil and conducting military operations. American military presence in Afghanistan only incites support for the Taliban, as they learn to counter American tactics effectively, and are adequately financed from Opium sales. Neocon thinking is not going to cure this headache. lgl