Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’
Tags: Afghanistan, cartoon, deficits, Greece, inequality, politics, United States
Tags: Afghanistan, economics, Iraq, Pakistan, war
Measuring the costs of war should have been conducted by mainstream economists. But they haven’t done it. So, the task has fallen to the Costs of War project by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, a multidisciplinary team led by political scientist Neta C. Crawford and anthropologist Catherine Lutz.*
Mainstream economists often defend what they do, and their superiority over other social sciences, on the basis of their quantitative methodology and rigorous empirical methodology. But they’ve been absent from the debate concerning the costs of the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The only exception is an analysis of the “Economic Consequences of a War in Iraq” [pdf] conducted by William D. Nordhaus in 2002. That’s it.
And now the Costs of War project. Here are some of their key findings:
- While we know how many US soldiers have died in the wars (just over 6000), what is startling is what we don’t know about the levels of injury and illness in those who have returned from the wars. New disability claims continue to pour into the VA, with 550,000 just through last fall. Many deaths and injuries among US contractors have not been identified.
- At least 137,000 civilians have died and more will die in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan as a result of the fighting at the hands of all parties to the conflict.
- The armed conflict in Pakistan, which the U.S. helps the Pakistani military fight by funding, equipping and training them, has taken as many lives as the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan.
- Putting together the conservative numbers of war dead, in uniform and out, brings the total to 225,000.
- Millions of people have been displaced indefinitely and are living in grossly inadequate conditions. The current number of war refugees and displaced persons — 7,800,000 — is equivalent to all of the people of Connecticut and Kentucky fleeing their homes.
- The wars have been accompanied by erosions in civil liberties at home and human rights violations abroad.
- The human and economic costs of these wars will continue for decades, some costs not peaking until mid-century. Many of the wars’ costs are invisible to Americans, buried in a variety of budgets, and so have not been counted or assessed. For example, while most people think the Pentagon war appropriations are equivalent to the wars’ budgetary costs, the true numbers are twice that, and the full economic cost of the wars much larger yet. Conservatively estimated, the war bills already paid and obligated to be paid are $3.2 trillion in constant dollars. A more reasonable estimate puts the number at nearly $4 trillion.
- As with former US wars, the costs of paying for veterans’ care into the future will be a sizable portion of the full costs of the war.
- The ripple effects on the U.S. economy have also been significant, including job loss and interest rate increases, and those effects have been underappreciated.
- While it was promised that the US invasions would bring democracy to both countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, both continue to rank low in global rankings of political freedom, with warlords continuing to hold power in Afghanistan with US support, and Iraqi communities more segregated today than before by gender and ethnicity as a result of the war.
- Serious and compelling alternatives to war were scarcely considered in the aftermath of 9/11 or in the discussion about war against Iraq. Some of those alternatives are still available to the U.S.
The authors of the report acknowledge the constraints of their analysis. With their limited resources, they focused on U.S. spending, U.S. and allied deaths, and the human toll in the major war zones.
There is still much more to analyze and understand. Unfortunately, they’re not going to get any help from mainstream economists.
* There are, in fact, a number of economists working on the project. They include Anita Dancs, Ryan D. Edwards, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heintz, and Bassam Yousif. At least a couple of them received their doctorates from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I don’t know whether the others consider their work to be mainstream or heterodox. The fact remains, mainstream economists have the quantitative skills to measure the costs of war but, for the most part, they’ve neglected the topic.
The question is, why? Maybe they were scared off after Larry Lindsey, director of the National Economic Council (2001–2002) and assistant to the president on economic policy, who played a leading role in formulating President Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax cut plan, was fired after he estimated the cost of the Iraq war could reach $200 billion.
Tags: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, United States, war
Tags: Afghanistan, cartoon, law, unemployment, United States, Walmart, war
Tags: Afghanistan, economy, Iraq, war, workers
War is business, and the business of war in Iraq and Afghanistan involves an invisible army of “Third Country Nationals” who are working, suffering injuries, and dying for the U.S. war effort.
As Sarah Stillman explains,
The expansion of private-security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan is well known. But armed security personnel account for only about sixteen per cent of the over-all contracting force. The vast majority—more than sixty per cent of the total in Iraq—aren’t hired guns but hired hands. These workers, primarily from South Asia and Africa, often live in barbed-wire compounds on U.S. bases, eat at meagre chow halls, and host dance parties featuring Nepalese romance ballads and Ugandan church songs. A large number are employed by fly-by-night subcontractors who are financed by the American taxpayer but who often operate outside the law.
The wars’ foreign workers are known, in military parlance, as “third-country nationals,” or T.C.N.s. Many of them recount having been robbed of wages, injured without compensation, subjected to sexual assault, and held in conditions resembling indentured servitude by their subcontractor bosses. Previously unreleased contractor memos, hundreds of interviews, and government documents I obtained during a yearlong investigation confirm many of these claims and reveal other grounds for concern. Widespread mistreatment even led to a series of food riots in Pentagon subcontractor camps, some involving more than a thousand workers.
Amid the slow withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, T.C.N.s have become an integral part of the Obama Administration’s long-term strategy, as a way of replacing American boots on the ground.
How does it work?
The process of outsourcing begins at major government entities, notably the Pentagon, which awarded its most recent prime logistics contract (worth as much as fifteen billion dollars a year) to three U.S.-based private military behemoths: K.B.R. (the former Halliburton subsidiary), DynCorp International, and Fluor. These “prime venders” then shop out the bulk of their contracts to hundreds of global subcontractors, many based in Middle Eastern countries that are on the U.S. State Department’s human-trafficking noncompliance list. Finally, these firms call upon thousands of Third World “manpower agencies”—small recruiting operations like Meridian Services.
The business of war is flourishing in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an invisible army of desperate workers are being exploited so that K.B.R., DynCorp International, and Fluor can profit.
Tags: Afghanistan, J. P. Morgan, resources, United States, war
In the scholarly literature on the political economy of conflict, intrastate wars are all about the greed of insurgents for resources. That’s the argument made famous by Paul Collier (to combat the idea that conflicts are caused by poverty, inequality, and grievances). What Collier and others have forgotten about is the greed of occupiers and their business partners for resources.
James Bandler reports that, in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus and J. P. Morgan’s Ian Hannam have combined to “tap” Afghanistan’s vast mineral riches.
To Hannam, chairman of J.P. Morgan Capital Markets, Afghanistan represents a gigantic, untapped opportunity — one of the last great natural-resource frontiers. Landlocked and pinioned by imperial invaders, Afghanistan has been cursed by its geography for thousands of years. Now, for the first time, Hannam believes, that geography could be an asset. The two most resource-starved nations on the planet, China and India, sit next door to Afghanistan, where, according to Pentagon estimates, minerals worth nearly $1 trillion lie buried. True, there is a war under way. And it’s unclear how the death of Osama bin Laden will impact the country’s political and economic environment. But Hannam is not your usual investment banker: A former soldier, he has done business in plenty of strife-torn countries. So have all the members of his team, two of them former special forces soldiers who have fought here. . .
Hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of iron, copper, rare earth metals, and, yes, gold are buried beneath Afghanistan’s deserts and mountains. This wealth has lain there mainly undisturbed for thousands of years as armies of Persians, Greeks, Mongols, Britons, Russians, and now Americans tramped above. Invaders have dreamed of exploiting it since the time of Alexander the Great, but no one has yet succeeded on a large scale.
That’s a war for resources the U.S. government and J. P. Morgan consider worth fighting.
Tags: Afghanistan, Vietnam, war
Once again, Frank Rich hits the nail on the head: there is a real parallel between the 1971 Pentagon Papers and the Wikileaks release of the Afghan war logs. But it’s not what people think.
The logs won’t change the course of our very long war in Afghanistan, but neither did the Pentagon Papers alter the course of Vietnam. What Ellsberg’s leak did do was ratify the downward trend-line of the war’s narrative. The WikiLeaks legacy may echo that. We may look back at the war logs as a herald of the end of America’s engagement in Afghanistan just as the Pentagon Papers are now a milestone in our slo-mo exit from Vietnam.
The Vietnam War ended not because of the Pentagon Papers but as a result of a combination of Vietnamese resistance, opposition at home, and U.S. soldiers in Vietnam going on strike.
Clearly, the two first two conditions are met with respect to the current war in Afghanistan. I wonder about the third. . .
Tom Engelhardt shows how the U.S. military, along with its civilian and intelligence counterparts, has been in an almost constant state of surge since the last days of the Bush administration. He gathers that scattered information on the nine surges—not just the decision to add 30,000 more U.S. troops—the Obama administration has been engaged in:
- private contractors
- CIA and special forces
All of this has been underway for close to a year, with at least another six months to go. This is the reality that the president and his top officials didn’t bother to explain to the American people in that speech last week, or on those Sunday talk shows, or in congressional testimony, and yet it’s a reality we should grasp as we consider our future and the Afghan War we, after all, are paying for.
The Vermont National Guard begins shipping out tomorrow for Bush’s Obama’s war in Afghanistan.
A farewell ceremony is set for this morning in Burlington for the first of nearly 1,500 Vermont National Guard soldiers going to Afghanistan as part of the Guard’s largest deployment since World War II.
As a sign of how long this war has lasted, 60 percent of those being deployed are veterans of earlier deployments to the region.
Although figures are hard to come by, the Seattle Times reports
The wars have taken a big toll on the state [of Vermont], which has lost 22 people in Iraq and has the highest per-capita casualty rate among states, at 3.54 per 100,000 of population.
As of 8 January 2005, Vermont had the highest number of deaths per 100K of population of any state in the union. It was 1.64—compared to a national average of 0.47.