A Budget for Permanent War
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Need proof that George W. Bush is not planning to withdraw US troops from Iraq on his watch? Just look at his latest budget.
The Bush Administration will ask Congress for $100 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan this year -- on top of the $70 billion already allocated -- and $145 billion for 2008. Why ask for the money if you're not planning to use it?
Administration officials, according to the Washington Post , "warned that even more money will probably will be needed." The Los Angeles Times says the military wants " even larger defense budgets."
Are you kidding me?
The costs of Iraq and Afghanistan aren't even included in the $481 billion the Pentagon demands for 2008, a 10 percent raise over this year. Total these figures up and Bush is asking for roughly $745 billion in defense spending, a higher number, when adjusted for inflation, than the entire cost of the Vietnam War.
Just pause and consider the size of that number. Three-quarters of a trillion dollars and Osama bin Laden is still at large, the Taliban are regrouping in Afghanistan and the US military is stuck in a civil war in Iraq.
"We have the largest Pentagon budget since World War II, but we are losing to an opponent in Iraq that spends less over an entire year than what we spend in one day," says Winslow Wheeler, a longtime defense expert at the Center for Defense Information.
Four defense analysts at the Security Policy Working Group recently awarded the government low or failing grades on virtually every aspect of the budget -- use of nation's resources (D), affordability (D), realism (D) and transparency (F). On only one criteria, advertising, did they award at A+, "for the Pentagon managing to convince Congress that the world's largest defense budget is too small."
The question now is whether this Congress will take the bait?
Ari Berman is a contributing writer for The Nation and a Ralph Shikes Fellow at the Public Concern Foundation. He's currently based in D.C.