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A Not-Dumb War

Yesterday, I wrote about President Obama’s announcement last week that he had signed an agreement to extend the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan for twelve more years. I said that at this point, the war in Afghanistan very much resembles what, in October 2002, State Senator Barack Obama called a “dumb war.”

Which begs this question: what is not a “dumb war”? Well, we just saw a good example of a not-dumb war, at least if you happen to be French.

Last year, Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, decided that he was going to take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. I’m not going to argue whether that was right or wrong; that’s not the point. The point is that France won that war, at very minimal cost.

So the French Air Force bombed Libyan targets. But France also enlisted NATO support. In fact, France’s NATO allies bore 80% of the cost of the war in Libya.

The actual cost to France was 320 million euros, which equals around $415 million. And not one French soldier died. (I’m aware of the fact that around 25,000 Libyans died, but again, that’s not the point.)

Assuming that you buy into the goal, the French war in Libya was a smart war. Very smart.

Now let’s compare that to the war in Iraq. Same stated goal: remove the dictator. And same result: dictator removed.

But the war in Iraq cost $4 trillion ($4,000,000,000,000), according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. More than World War II. 4,487 American soldiers died (and maybe 500,000 Iraqis).

The war in Iraq dragged on for eight years and nine months. During that period, U.S. taxpayers spent $415 million on the war in Iraq every eight hours. And an average of 10 American soldiers were killed every week.

Now that is a dumb war. Really dumb.

And the war in Afghanistan is no different from the war in Iraq. We are spending almost $1 million a year for each American soldier in Afghanistan.

Another dumb war.

So I agree with State Senator Barack Obama. “That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war.”


Alan Grayson

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.” – John Lennon (1969).

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Alan Grayson

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