|Investment in the US military versus return on investment?|
Trump said: “We have spent as of two months ago almost $7 trillion in the Middle East,” Trump said. “And you know what we have? We have nothing. It’s worse than it was 17 years ago when they started.”
Trump made similar claims during the 2016 presidential election and in his first months in office, alluding to the cost of U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Some figures from studies mainly, based on figures provided by the military estimate U.S. spending on wars in the Middle East is high, about $4.4 trillion, but not as high as Trump claims.
War spending in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria since 2001 is about $4.4 trillion, according to professor Neta Crawford from Brown University’s Costs of War project.
The Department of Defense (DOD) reported in June it had spent only $1.5 trillion on war-related costs since Sept. 11, 2001. But Crawford says that direct DOD spending doesn’t tell the whole story.
“War costs are more than what we spend in any one year on what’s called the pointy end of the spear,” she told The Wall Street Journal last month. “There are all these other costs behind the spear, and there are consequences of using it, that we need to include.”
Crawford’s $4.4 trillion figure includes costs through 2017 for operations overseas, medical and disability claims for veterans, counter terrorism efforts by the Department of Homeland Security and interest on borrowing for the wars.
Her estimate comes closer to Trump’s $7 trillion figure, when including expected future spending. When including expenditures for veteran health care through 2056 and estimated war costs for 2018, total war-related spending rises to $5.6 trillion.
A Harvard working paper from 2013 estimated that the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will total between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. These figures are also closer to Trump’s claim, but they are also based on cost estimates of veteran care for decades to come. Trump’s claim is based on costs to date.
Another factor is that the wars in the Middle East are financed almost entirely with debt. Crawford’s study estimates that accumulated interest on war appropriations through 2013 alone will add $7.9 trillion to the national debt by 2056. But, again, these are expected costs, not costs so far.
Note EU-Digest: the bottom line,whatever way one tries to juggle with the figures, is quite clear. The US is spending far too much on its military activities and basically have very little or nothing to show for it.
Consequently, the EU must at least have the courage to also question these expenditure, specially after President Trump scolded them for not paying their share of NATO expenditures. After all, what would otherwise be the purpose for EU nations to remain in the NATO?