War Funding, 2010

This past Wednesday, Admiral Mullen (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) announced that the Pentagon will seek additional war funds for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2010.  While he did not give a firm dollar amount, the New York Times reported that defense budget analysts are kicking around the number of $50 billion.  The Times also reported that Jack Murtha, Chair of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, indicated on October 30 that he expects the supplemental spending bill for 2010 to be in the range of $40 billion.  The final dollar amount won’t be known until the White House submits its “emergency” supplemental spending request to Congress, most likely around February 2.

In the immortal words of Coach Vince Lombardi: “What the hell is going on out there?”

We should be so lucky if it were a simple matter of the Green Bay Packers screwing up the power sweep.

Instead, it’s a matter of the Obama Administration now leading us down the path of the most expensive year in war funding since President Bush began the so-called “Global War on Terror” (now morphed into the “Overseas Contingency Operations” under President Obama).

You read that correctly.  War spending in 2010 will exceed $190 billion if indeed the Pentagon seeks-and Congress approves–$50 billion in “emergency” funding.  That’s more than the $179 billion spent under President Bush in 2008, the previous high water mark for war spending.  War spending in 2010 will also far exceed spending in 2009 (which is about $145 billion).

While Admiral Mullen did not announce a new war strategy for Afghanistan, it is difficult to conceive for what this additional $40 to $50 billion will be used if not used to expand the war in Afghanistan (and to perhaps continue the occupation of Iraq at near current troop levels without the substantive reductions promised earlier this year).

Let’s compare the numbers from 2009 to 2010 for three key areas of spending: Personnel costs; Operation and Maintenance costs; and Procurement costs.

Funding levels in 2009 were: Personnel – $19.9 billion; Operation and Maintenance – $80.4 billion; and Procurement – $31.9 billion.

Current funding levels in 2010 are: Personnel – $14.1 billion; Operation and Maintenance – $80.3 billion; and Procurement – $22.2 billion.  (With all the talk about building Afghanistan’s army and police forces, it is worth noting that spending on the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund increases from $5.6 billion in 2009 to $6.6 billion in 2010, so it’s not likely that the “emergency” supplemental will include significantly more funds for this category).

Total funding levels in these three main areas are approximately $15.6 billion less in 2010 than in 2009.  While Procurement funding declines in 2010 compared to 2009, this decline is most likely the result of returning to a more normative definition of what constitutes “emergency” war spending than the very expansive definition that was implemented under President Bush and that resulted in the explosion of Procurement spending to approximately $45 billion in both 2007 and 2008 (Procurement spending in 2005 was $18 billion and in 2006 it was $22.9 billion before this expansion).

The Congressional Research Service notes in a September 2009 report that the President’s budget for 2010 includes both the increase in troop levels in Afghanistan to 69,000 ordered by President Obama earlier this year and the anticipated reduction in U.S. troop levels in Iraq through August 2010.

Which leads one to ask the question:

In announcing that the Pentagon intends to seek additional war funding for 2010, did Admiral Mullen tip the hat that President Obama intends to dramatically increase the level of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan–edging towards that 40,000 additional troops that General McChrystal seems to be requesting?

Or that the U.S. intends to otherwise dramatically increase the level of combat operations in Afghanistan and into Pakistan, which would carry the potential for significant increased costs in Operations and Maintenance as well as in Procurement funds?

Or that the U.S. intends to maintain troop levels in Iraq near current levels for the remainder of 2010?

Mullen’s statement comes within the context of Obama’s speech to service members in which he said that the U.S. would not send members of the military into harm’s way without adequate resources.  It comes within the context of Obama assuming personal responsibility for his decisions as commander-in-chief when he became the first U.S. President in decades to personally participate in the ceremonies at Dover upon the return of U.S. service members who died in war.  The sequencing of events seems to be preparing the way for President Obama to issue the order to dramatically increase U.S. troop levels and combat operations in Afghanistan.

Somehow we must reinvigorate the antiwar movement that seems to have largely gone missing over these past several months.

One campaign under way to rise to the challenge is the Peaceable Assembly Campaign (www.peaceableassemblycampaign.org).

From January 19 through February 2, the PAC will maintain a two week vigil at the White House and engage in regular acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, starting on the day President Obama enters his second year in office, continuing through his anticipated State of the Union address to Congress, and concluding on the day he is to submit his budget for 2011 to Congress.

Then after February 2, the Peaceable Assembly Campaign will focus its work upon Congress.  Similar to the Occupation Project effort of 2007, the PAC will organize lobbying–both legal and extralegal (i.e., civil disobedience)–in the home offices of Representatives and Senators who do not commit themselves publicly to oppose additional funding for the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

You can become involved with the Peaceable Assembly Campaign at www.peaceableassemblycampaign.org

Now is not the time to equivocate in our opposition to the continuing and expanding wars.  The die is being cast by the Obama Administration.  It is our choice on how we respond.  And rather than being directed at the Administration, perhaps we should direct Coach Lombardi’s challenge to ourselves.  After all…

What the hell IS going on out here?

JEFF LEYS is Co-Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He can be reach via email, jeffleys@vcnv.org

More articles by:

JEFF LEYS is Co-Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He can be reach via email, jeffleys@vcnv.org

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior