Last week, the administration of President Barack Obama requested an additional $83.4 billion for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama has made the request through an emergency funding procedure–known as supplemental requests–that he criticized repeatedly during the presidential campaign. According to his administration, this will be the last time the procedure is used. In future years, the administration will include the cost of the two occupations as part of its annual Pentagon budget.
The $83 billion comes on top of a previously allotted $67 billion. Depending on the numbers used, the Iraq War has cost between $613 billion and $1 trillion dollars. It has been estimated that the war could ultimately cost as much as $3 trillion dollars. Grand Rapids’ share of the cost is at least $343.5 million.
Anti-War Group Reacts
In response to the request, the anti-war group Code Pink issued a statement criticizing Obama for the supplemental request. Calling the funding an “outrageous request” for “ineffectual, destabilizing, immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” the group said the request violated Obama’s campaign pledge to no longer use supplemental funding requests.
Code Pink writes:
“Despite Obama’s campaign promise never to ask for war funding as a supplemental bill as opposed to the regular budget, war officials say this supplemental is “necessary” to pay for wars through mid-year. This explanation for the rushed spending, strategically downplayed amid the start of a holiday weekend, reflects the same rush into war six years ago and recent rush into taxpayer bailouts for mismanaged corporations. It leaves no time for Congress to thoroughly analyze the true need for such funds and it ignores the fact that the United States — and the American people — cannot afford to spend $83 billion dollars on war at a time of sky-high unemployment and record deficits.
It also ignores widespread dissent in American and abroad against continuation of the wars, despite Defense Secretary Gates’ statement that he does not know anybody who believes “a sudden and precipitous withdrawal of the United States from both places” to be a good idea. A USA Today/Gallup Poll earlier this spring found 42 percent of Americans felt the Afghanistan war was “a mistake,” an increase of 30 percent earlier this year and 34 percent in August 2008. A March CBS poll found six in 10 Americans now say the U.S. did the wrong thing in entering Iraq.”
Instead of the wars, Code Pink is calling for a reallocation of war funds to serve people. It calls for using the money to pay for health care, education, green jobs, and infrastructure for all Americans.
Limited Democratic Opposition
Aside from Code Pink and grassroots anti-war activists, there has been little criticism of the request.
California Democrat Lynn Woolsey issued a statement saying:
“As proposed, this funding will do two things – it will prolong our occupation of Iraq through at least the end of 2011 and it will deepen and expand our military presence in Afghanistan indefinitely.
“I cannot support either of these scenarios. Instead of attempting to find military solutions to the problems we face in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama must fundamentally change the mission in both countries to focus on promoting reconciliation, economic development, humanitarian aid, and regional diplomatic efforts.”
However, other Democrats have been largely silent, while Republicans are indicating they support the request.