This week, General David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are testifying before Congress about the Iraq war. As many media reports have made apparent, the intention of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker is simply to announce a continuation of the current strategy - the decision to maintain at least 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely was made weeks ago. The American people understand the enormous cost of the war in Iraq and are looking for more than running out the clock until the next President takes office in January 2009.
Speaker Pelosi released the following statement on testimony today of General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the war in Iraq:
“It is clear from today's testimony by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker that the Iraqi government remains unwilling or unable to take the steps necessary to reach the political reconciliation needed to secure their country's future.
“General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker made it official that the Bush Administration will not reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq below pre-surge levels. That is not a policy that appropriately reflects the enormous costs of the war in Iraq, nor what the American people want.
“The human cost of the war has been enormous, with more than 4,000 lives lost and tens of thousands injured, many of them permanently. The cost to our national security has been immense - our military readiness is stretched thin and our reputation in the world is damaged. And now, the trillion dollar war in Iraq is damaging our economy by taking us deeper into debt.
“The Iraqi government is not worthy of the sacrifice of our troops or the cost that the war is having on our readiness and our economy. We need a New Direction in Iraq, but what General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker offered today was many more years of the same.”
Countdown to General David Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker's Visit to Capitol Hill
1 Day: The Cost of the War in Iraq in Lost Investments Here at Home
According to the Congressional Research Service, we are spending $10.3 billion a month on the war in Iraq, which translates into $339 million a day. Every day that we are spending millions in Iraq means missed opportunities to invest in critical priorities here at home.
For the $339 million we spend in Iraq every day:
- 2,060 more Border Patrol agents could be hired to protect our borders for a year.
- 18,000 more students could receive Pell Grants to help them attend college for a year.
- 48,000 homeless veterans could be provided with a place to live for a year.
- 317,000 more kids could receive every recommended vaccination for a year.
- 955,000 families could get help with their energy bills through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for a year.
- Nearly 480,000 women, infants and children could receive nutritional help with the WIC program for a year.
- 2.6 million Americans without adequate health insurance could have access to medical and dental care at community health centers for a year.
- More than 100 local communities could make improvements to their drinking water with help from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for a year.
- 937 additional National Institutes of Health grants for research into diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer and diabetes could be provided for a year.
Source: House Appropriations Committee
THE COST TO MILITARY FAMILIES
What Military Leaders and Experts Are Saying:
General George Casey, Army Chief of Staff
Fifteen-month long deployments are “impacting on their families, it's impacting on their mental health. We just can't keep going at the rate that we're going.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/26/08]
Lt. General Benjamin Mixon, Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific
“We are going to have to change our strategy in Iraq to reduce the numbers of troops, and thereby reduce the rotations and increase the dwell time that we get back here at home.” [Honolulu Advertiser, 1/27/08]
Lt. General Michael Rochelle, Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G1
“…I should mention that it's clear that the increase in suicide, as well as other measures that we track very, very closely, are a reflection of the amount of stress that's on the force.” [Testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 2/27/08]
Brig. Gen. Michael Linnington, Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Infantry Center
“Money is not the issue…They want an opportunity to catch their breath before deploying again and to have some control over their futures. They're tired, and their families are tired.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/26/08]
Ret. Admiral William Fallon (USN), Former Commander of U.S. Central Command
“…I will certainly tell you that I think that our troops are in need of a change in the deployment cycle. We've had too many, from my experience, of several of our key segments of the troop population -- senior NCOs, mid to junior officers -- on multiple rotations. I look at my commanders, and some of them have logged more months in Iraq in the last decade than they have at home by a significant amount.” [Testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, 3/5/08]
- Nearly 1.7 million U.S. troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since September 2001 - more than 599,000 have been deployed more than once. [Department of Defense, 2/29/08]
- More than 782,000 servicemembers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are parents with one or more children - 40 percent have been deployed more than once. Nearly 35,000 troops have been separated from their children for four or more deployments. [Department of Defense, 2/29/08]
- According to a report by the Army's Mental Health Advisory Team, “work-related problems due to stress, mental health problems and marital separations generally increased with each subsequent month of the deployment.” [3/6/08]
- An estimated 2,100 troops tried to commit suicide or injure themselves last year - up from 350 in 2002. [U.S. News & World Report, 2/25-3/3]
- An estimated three-quarter of a million troops have been discharged since the war in Iraq began - many of whom with compromised mental and physical health. An estimated 260,000 have been treated at veterans' health facilities, nearly 100,000 have been diagnosed as having mental health conditions, and an additional 200,000 have received some level of care from walk-in facilities. [Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz, Excerpt: “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” 2008]
What Economists Are Saying:
Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University professor and winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics
Linda Bilmes, Harvard University professor and budget expert
“There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no such thing as a free war. The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can't spend $3 trillion - yes, $3 trillion - on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.” [Washington Post op-ed, 3/9/08]
“[The] cost to the U.S. economy comes in two major forms. First, the war has diverted government expenditures from schools, roads, research and other areas that would have stimulated the economy in the short run and produced stronger economic growth in the long run. We have the financed the war with deficits, and the higher deficits, too, will impose a long-run burden on the economy. Second, higher oil prices, in large measure a consequence of the war, have weakened the American economy. A realistic but conservative estimate for the war's macro-economic impact is roughly $1.9 trillion.” [Excerpt, “The 3 Trillion Dollar War,” 2008]
Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs' international division
“We should be going into that period of baby boomer retirements in very good fiscal shape. Instead, we're going into that period in bad fiscal shape, with big deficits.” [Politico, 4/1/08]
Steven Kosiak, Director of Budget Studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
“We basically financed the war on an international credit card.” [San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/30/08]
Dan Seiver, San Diego State University finance professor
“We're spending [money on the Iraq war] at a time when we need to improve our education system, our infrastructure and our health care system. Those things would make our economy grow stronger and faster. But instead, the money is being spent in Iraq.” [San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/30/08]
- Contrary to the notion that war spending bolsters the economy, Robert Reischauer, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, said recently that the domestic benefits of war spending have been “muted” because spending is “stimulating economies elsewhere, not the least being the economies of Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.” [Reuters, 3/13/08]
- “With enactment of the FY 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (PL 110-161), Congress has approved a total of about $700 billion for … the three military operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks [Iraq, Afghanistan, and enhanced military base security]. … Of that total, CRS estimates that Iraq will receive about $526 billion. In FY 2007, DOD's monthly obligations for contracts and pay averaged about $12.3 billion, including about $10.3 billion for Iraq and $2.0 billion for Afghanistan.” [Congressional Research Service, February 5, 2008]
- The United States has spent more than $45 billion on reconstruction contracts in Iraq - even as many of our needs - education, health care, roads and bridges, etc. - here at home go unmet. [AP, 3/11/08]
- In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Comptroller General David Walker noted American taxpayers are bearing a considerable fiscal burden as the Iraqis experience budget surpluses. “The Iraqis have a budget surplus… We have a huge budget deficit…One of the question is who should be paying.” [AP, 3/11/08]
- The price of oil has skyrocketed since the Iraq war began. The national average price per gallon of regular gasoline before the start of the Iraq war was $1.73. Today, it is $3.29 - an increase of more than 90 percent. This was predicted. “[In March 2003,] Sung Won Sohn, then an economist for Wells Fargo Bank, noted that anytime there is conflict in the Middle East, oil prices hit record figures. He warned that the longer the war lasted, the higher the prices would go.” [San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/30/08]
- The U.S. military is being squeezed at the pump in Iraq as well - paying an average of $3.23 per gallon of fuel - compared to $1.36 per gallon paid by Iraqi residents. [AP, 4/2/08]
- The U.S. economy is facing a recession. But our ability to implement full-scale economic stimulus is hampered by expenditures of close to $200 billion on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2008 alone and by a skyrocketing national debt.
THE COST OF IRAQ WAR BROKEN DOWN
Hour: $14.1 million
Day: $338.6 million
Week: $2.4 billion
Month: $10.3 billion
Year: $123.6 billion
[Congressional Research Service, 2/22/08]
THE COST TO OUR MILITARY READINESS
What Military Leaders Are Saying:
- Gen. Richard Cody, Army Vice Chief of Staff: “When the five-brigade surge went in… that took all the stroke out of the shock absorbers for the United States Army…I've never seen our lack of strategic depth be where it is today.” [Washington Post, 4/2/08]
- Gen. Robert Magnus, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps: “There has been little, if any, change of the stress or tempo for our forces…[the current pace of operations is] unsustainable.” [Washington Post, 4/2/08]
- Lt. Col. Paul Bliese, Chief of Department of Military Psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research: “Soldiers are not resetting entirely before they get back into theater…They're not having the opportunity…to completely recover from previous deployment and then go back into theater.” [Reuters, 3/6/08]
- Ret. Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, Commission on the National Guard and Reserves: “We think there is an appalling gap in readiness for homeland defense, because it will be the Guard and reserve that have to respond for these things.” [Washington Post, 2/1/08]
- 88 percent of current and former military officers surveyed by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for New American Security believe the demands of the Iraq war have “stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin.” Sixty percent say the U.S. military is weaker than it was five years ago. [Foreign Policy/Center for New American Security, 2/19/08]
- More than 464,797 servicemembers in the National Guard and Reserves have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 - one quarter of these brave men and women have been deployed more than once. [Department of Defense, 1/31/08]
- Even fewer Army National Guard units are combat-ready today than were nearly a year ago when the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves determined that 88 percent of the units were not prepared for the fight, the panel said in its report.” [AP/MSNBC, 1/31/08] [GAO Testimony, 2/14/08]
- Yesterday, the Army Vice Chief of Staff Richard Cody testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Army “no longer has fully ready combat brigades on standby should a threat or conflict occur.” [Washington Post, 4/2/08]
- The Army estimates once operations in Iraq and Afghanistan end, it will cost between $12 billion and $13 billion a year for at least two years to replace, repair and rebuild equipment lost or destroyed in war. [GAO Testimony, 2/14/08]
- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen: “So, should we be in a position where more troops are removed from Iraq, the possibility of sending additional troops [to Afghanistan] -- where we need them, clearly -- certainly it's a possibility. But it's really going to be based on the availability of troops. We don't have troops -- particularly in Brigade Combat Team size -- sitting on the shelf, ready to go.” [3/28/08]
- Gen. James Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps: “[The Marines] cannot have one foot in Afghanistan and one foot in Iraq.” [Washington Post, 2/2/08]
- It has been 2,393 days since the September 11th attacks - Osama bin Laden remains free.
- In July 2007, a declassified version of a National Intelligence Estimate on “The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland” concluded that al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the border area with Pakistan has regained its strength over the last few years and has now reached the strength it had before 9/11.
- 487 brave U.S. servicemembers have been killed and more than 1,900 have been wounded in Afghanistan since October 2001. [Department of Defense, 3/29/08]
- Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell testified in February that Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and his government control just one-third of the country - the remaining majority is under the control of either the Taliban or local tribes. [AP, 2/28/08]
- According to a report released by the United Nations, “insurgent and terrorist violence in Afghanistan increased sharply in 2007, with over 8,000 conflict-related deaths and an average of 566 incidents per month.” [AP, 3/10/08]
- Since the start of the war in Iraq, 4,003 brave American men and women in uniform have been killed. [Defense Department, 3/31/08]
- An estimated 29,496 servicemembers have been wounded in Iraq and, as of March 1, more than 31,300 have been treated for non-combat injuries and illness. [Defense Department, 3/31/08, AP, 3/8/08]
- Nearly 1.7 million U.S. troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since September 2001 - more than 592,000 have been deployed more than once. [Department of Defense, 1/31/08]
- According to a report by the Army's Mental Health Advisory Team, soldiers who are on their second, third and fourth deployments report “low morale, more mental health problems, and more stress-related work problems.” [3/6/08]
- An estimated three-quarter of a million troops have been discharged since the war in Iraq began - many of whom with compromised mental and physical health. An estimated 260,000 have been treated at veterans' health facilities, nearly 100,000 have been diagnosed as having mental health conditions, and an additional 200,000 have received some level of care from walk-in facilities. [Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz, Excerpt:“The Three Trillion Dollar War,” 2008]