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

Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring