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16th October 2019 US pulling out of foreign conflicts.

Why is US Pulling Out of Syria After it Declared to Pull Out of Afghanistan?

As soon as the News spread that US is pulling out of Syria, US President Donald Trump came under a lot of fire not only from the opposition benches of Democrats but also from the Republicans. He also faced severe criticism around the world for pulling out of Syria and letting Turkey slaughter the Kurds. Even the allied nations in EU and NATO countries also severely criticized President Trump for his decision to pull out from Syria.

US pulling out forces from Syria
US pulling out forces from Syria

It seemed someone is coordinating the opposition worldwide. Social Media was full of hate for President Trump. Videos showing Syrian Kurds with messages against President Trump started getting Viral. Countries that had close ties with the US also started having a second thought and social media used extensively to give them a feeling that US is an unreliable partner.

Who benefited from all this criticism of US President Donald Trump? Was the decision of US pulling out of Syria sudden that brought all this criticism? Or was there someone who wants to spread bad name for President Trump as 2020 elections are round the corner? All liberal Media channels whom President Trump had named as Fake Media Channels were the torch bearers of this criticism. Propaganda was so enormous even the Republicans joined in criticizing President Trump.

What made President Trump to pull out from Syria?

What made President Trump to pull out of Syria? In order to answer that, we will need to look at the history of different conflicts where US was fighting War against Terror. We will also need to understand the financial repercussions that all these Military policing had on the US economy.

US pulling out from Syria
US pulling out from Syria

The Bush administration wanted to eliminate the terrorist threat of Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein. He was not affiliated with Al-Qaeda, but he was a Sunni Muslim who used violence to expand his power. The war against terror had weakened Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. But the Islamist Radicals created a new terrorist threat. The Islamic State group promised a new homeland for Sunnis in the region. The cost to fight the Islamic State group in Iraq has spread to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon.

More than 90% of soldiers wounded in Iraq survived thanks to improvements in battlefield medicine.

On Jun 8, 2014, President Trump had tweeted, “By the end of this year China will be the number one economic power on earth and the U.S. will owe 20 trillion dollars, much of it to China!”

As of June 2019, federal debt held by the public was $16.17 trillion and intragovernmental holdings were $5.86 trillion, for a total national debt of $22.03 trillion. How did the Superpower of the world came under huge debts? Where did all the money go? If we look at the previous Tweets from US President Donald Trump, we will understand the reason for US pulling out from Syria and understand the whole reason. Successive Governments in the US pushed US in different conflicts worldwide.

Trillions of American Tax Payers money has been spent on these conflicts. Instead that money could have been invested in the US and that could have saved manufacturing Jobs going to China.

On Feb 2, 2017, President Trump Tweeted, “Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the U.S. has squandered three trillion dollars there. Obvious long ago!”

On Dec 20, 2018, US President Donald Trump Tweeted, “Does the USA want to be the Policeman of the Middle East, getting NOTHING but spending precious lives and trillions of dollars protecting others who, in almost all cases, do not appreciate what we are doing? Do we want to be there forever? Time for others to finally fight…..”

On Dec 24, 2018, President Donald Trump Tweeted, “Thanks @RandPaul “I am very proud of the President. This is exactly what he promised, and I think the people agree with him. We’ve been at war too long and in too many places…spent several trillion dollars on these wars everywhere. He’s different…that’s why he got elected.””

On May 4, 2019, President Donald Trump Tweeted, “There is nothing easy about a USA Infrastructure Plan, especially when our great Country has spent an astounding 7 trillion dollars in the Middle East over the last 19 years, but I am looking hard at a bipartisan plan of 1 to 2 trillion dollars. Badly needed!”

Before Trump became President of the United States, he had criticized previous governments for pushing US to different conflicts worldwide. He had promised his electorate that he will bring soldiers fighting foreign wars back home. US soldiers can be brought back home nearer to their families and get US out of endless and costly foreign wars.

Reason for pulling out of Syria and Afghanistan

Wherever US forces were drawn worldwide, it created more enemies rather than friends. Some of the nations were thankless and ignored all the sacrifice thousands of US soldiers made by sacrificing their lives for keeping their countries safe from Terror. US spent Trillions of Dollars, fought war on Terror, made enormous sacrifices in terms of lives of soldiers, in terms of soldiers who became physically challenged due to war, in terms of recurring expenditure on the families of those injured soldiers and so on.

Indirect Cost of the Foreign War to the US

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) began on October 7, 2001, and was primarily conducted in Afghanistan. On December 28, 2014, President Obama announced that OEF had ended. A “follow-on mission,” Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS), was started on January 1, 2015, to “continue training, advising, and assisting Afghan security forces.”

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) began on March 19, 2003, and was primarily conducted in Iraq. On August 31, 2010, President Obama announced that OIF had ended. A transitional force of U.S. troops remained in Iraq under Operation New Dawn (OND), which ended on December 15, 2011.

Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones
Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones

Several thousand U.S. civilian personnel, contract personnel, and a limited number of U.S. military personnel remain in Iraq carrying out U.S. government business and cooperative programs under the auspices of agreements with the Iraqi government. On October 15, 2014, U.S. Central Command designated new military operations in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).

Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones
Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones

The Iraq War was a military conflict that lasted seven years, from 2003 to 2011, and cost $1.06 trillion. The real cost of the Iraq War is more than the additional $1.06 trillion added to the debt. First, and most important, is the cost borne by the 4,488 U.S. troops who died, the 32,226 who suffered injuries, and their families. As a result, those who served and their families bore the brunt. They will pay at least $300 billion over the next several decades to pay for their injured family members. That doesn’t include lost income from jobs they quit to care for their relatives.

Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones
Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones

The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post 9/11 war veterans.

Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones
Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones
 Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones
Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones

This figure includes not only war appropriations made to the Department of Defense – spending in the war zones of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in other places the government designates as sites of “overseas contingency operations,” – but also includes spending across the federal government that is a consequence of these wars. Specifically, this is war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.

Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones
Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones

If the US continues on its current path, war spending will continue to grow. The Pentagon currently projects $80 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending through FY2023. Even if the wars are ended by 2023, the US would still be on track to spend an additional $808 billion (see Table 2) to total at least $6.7 trillion, not including future interest costs. Moreover, the costs of war will likely be greater than this because, unless the US immediately ends its deployments, the number of veterans associated with the post-9/11 wars will also grow. Veterans benefits and disability spending, and the cost of interest on borrowing to pay for the wars, will comprise an increasingly large share of the costs of the US post-9/11 wars.

Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones
Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones

Legislation to End War in Afghanistan

Two influential members of the United States Senate have introduced legislation that would end the nearly two-decade long war in Afghanistan.

The bill’s sponsors, Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Tom Udall, explained in a statement accompanying the 2019 American Forces Going Home After Noble Service (AFGHAN) Act that it would have Washington declare victory in Afghanistan.

“Within 45 days, a plan will be formulated for an orderly withdrawal and turnover of facilities to the Afghan government, while also setting a framework for political reconciliation to be implemented by Afghans in accordance with the Afghan Constitution. Within a year, all U.S. forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan,” it said.

US pulling out of foreign conflicts
US pulling out of foreign conflicts

“Endless war weakens our national security, robs this and future generations through skyrocketing debt, and creates more enemies to threaten us,” the statement quoted Senator Paul as saying. The mission of punishing al-Qaida for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks in the United States has been achieved and the time has come to end the long-running war, he noted.

Paul said the U.S. military has lost more than 2,300 service members since the start of the war in October 2001, with another 20,000 wounded in action. Additionally, the Afghan war has cost the U.S. “$2 trillion, with the war currently costing over $51 billion a year,” an amount that Paul said can be redirected to domestic priorities.

Reason for US pulling out of Syria after declaring to pull out of Afghanistan.
Reason for US pulling out of Syria after declaring to pull out of Afghanistan.

“For over 17 years, our soldiers have gone above and beyond what has been asked of them in Afghanistan. It is time to declare the victory we achieved long ago, bring them home, and put America’s needs first,” he stressed.

The statement quoted Senator Udall as noting that soon U.S. soldiers will begin deploying to Afghanistan to fight in a war that began before they were born. “As we face this watershed moment, it’s past time to change our approach to the longest war in our country’s history,” said Udall.

Senator Paul released a video message prior to introducing the new legislation on Mar 5, 2019. In his video message Paul said, “this week, I am introducing legislation to end a war that should have ended long ago, the war in Afghanistan. The United States has been fighting the War on Terror since October of 2001 and it has cost 6 trillion dollars.”

US Senator Rand Paul on why US pulling out of Afghanistan

“2300 Military members have lost their lives and another 20,000 wounded in action. I supported going to war in Afghanistan in 2001, attacking those who harbor the 9/11 Terrorists or helped to organize the attack on 9/11 and going after Al-Qaeda. But we are many many years past that mission. We have turned to nation building at the cost of over $50 Billion a year spent in Afghanistan. It is important to know when to declare victory and leave the war. I think that time is long past. But hopefully we all can agree that the time has come. President Trump has called for an end to this war and made a statement in his state of the Union. He said, “Great Nations do not fight endless wars”. I agree and now i am pushing forward to end our long running war in Afghanistan. My legislation would declare victory in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden was killed 8 years ago. They say Al-Qaeda is virtually wiped out. According to the Department of Defense, by 2009 there were less than 100 Al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan. In June 2018, Defense Department stated that few remaining Al-Qaeda core members are really focused on their own survival. My Bill also rewards those who served with one year or within one year after the war ends.”

“A $2,500 “Victory Bonus” will be paid to all Members of the Military who have served in the Global war on Terror. Since 2001, more than 3 million men and women have been deployed. Each of them will get $2500 dollars. This will be one-time cost of $7 Billion and an immediate saving of over 83% when compared to the current yearly cost of nation building. So, we are spending $50 Billion there. We are going to take 7 Billion of that, give bonuses to our soldiers and what we are going to do is that rest of it will be peace dividend. From here on now we will save $50 Billion dollars a year.”

“We don’t need to be wasting that $50 Billion Dollars. And there is no doubt much of it is wasted. We spent 16 Billion dollars building a luxury hotel in Kabul. A hotel that was never completed. Hotel that actually terrorists climbed up and can shoot down at us. We spent $43 Billion dollars on natural gas Gas-station even though on one has a car that runs on natural gas in Afghanistan. $750 million dollars went to a project to build electrification for land we didn’t even own and Taliban kept blowing up. $210 Million dollars went to build new Afghan government building. My question is when are they going to pay for their own stuff? Why does Uncle Sam have to be Uncle Sap and pay for everything? The list is ongoing and incredibly insulting to American Taxpayers. It’s time to declare our mission over and our war won. It’s time to build here not there.”

Context

Any policy must be judged on its human and budgetary costs, risks, and benefits, and so policymakers and the public must at least have a good sense of the costs of these wars. But which costs? There are many numbers associated with the US post-9/11 wars: 17 years of fighting; thousands of US soldiers killed and many thousands more injured; hundreds of thousands of civilians killed; millions of refugees; and the costs go on. There is no single number for the budgetary costs of the wars, which make assessing costs, risks, and benefits difficult. Indeed, because the nation has tended to focus its attention only on direct military spending, we have often discounted the larger budgetary costs of the post 9/11 wars and therefore underestimated their greater budgetary and economic significance.

Reason for pulling out of foreign war zones like Syria and Afghanistan: US lost thousands of soldiers and spent Trillions of Dollars on foreign wars.
Reason for pulling out of foreign war zones like Syria and Afghanistan: US lost thousands of soldiers and spent Trillions of Dollars on foreign wars.

War appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan were not funded with new taxes or war bonds, but by deficit spending and borrowing. This adds interest costs to war spending, specifically, the interest costs already paid and future interest costs. The severity of the burden of war-related interest payments will depend on many factors, not least, the overall future health of the US economy, interest rates, government fiscal policy, and national saving. In 2011, Dr. Ryan Edwards calculated more than $7.9 Trillion in cumulative interest through 2056 on war appropriations, capped at $1.5 Trillion. War spending has increased substantially since then, and the US continues to fund the wars by borrowing, so this is a conservative estimate of the consequences of funding the war as if on a credit card, in which we are only paying interest even as we continue to spend.

If decision of US pulling out its forces is reversed, what would be the cost of future wars?

The costs of these wars, already high last year, are on track to escalate unless the US changes its strategy. Specifically, there are two major wild cards with regard to future war spending that will affect the ultimate costs of these wars.

First, the choices the United States makes with regard to future war spending and the financing of past war spending:

The US could choose to increase taxes to pay for past and future war-related spending. If the US continues deficit spending to fund the wars, the debt will grow, as will the interest payments needed to service the war debt.

Second, how long the US continues the wars:

Duration will determine spending in several respects, including the total spent by the Pentagon and State Department.

As Figure below, illustrates, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs already projects that the number of post-9/11 war veterans will continue to grow for some time, peaking around 2039 at more than 4.3 million people. Moreover, as these veterans age, their health care

Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones
Factors that led to US pulling out of different foreign War zones

and disability care needs will increase. Longer wars will also increase the number of soldiers and sailors who will ultimately claim veterans benefits and disability payments.

Conclusion

One could argue that the war in Afghanistan is at a stalemate, even as the US is winding down its operations in Iraq and Syria, having ostensibly destroyed much of the threat ISIS posed to the region. Yet there is no strategy to end the wars other than more of the same, in the hope that one day Iraqi and Afghan security forces will be able to fend for themselves. In addition, the US has escalated its involvement with wars and counter terror operations in Africa and Yemen. Nor is there a strategy for responsibly paying for these wars.

Understanding the costs of these wars now and in the future is only one part of an assessment of national strategy and priorities. It is important that the US continue to release data about military spending, veteran’s health, and spending on counter terror missions by the Department of Homeland Security so that lawmakers and citizens can make informed choices. We cannot begin to weigh the costs, risks and benefits of these wars, and insure accountability, without transparency about costs.

As the Government Accountability Office has repeatedly shown, this and previous administrations have not made their use of the appropriated funds clear. For example, even as this administration has increased military spending, the transparency that is essential for efficiency and democratic accountability has been undermined by cuts in spending for essential auditing and inspector general functions at the State Department and Department of Defense.

Further, there is no strategy for ending the wars. The fact that the US keeps spending huge sums for wars that, at least in Afghanistan, are in a stalemate, and in Iraq and Syria, are unresolved, is a long-term budgetary problem which will affect future generations. The government’s pattern of reporting only DOD war spending obscures the magnitude of spending since 9/11. The comprehensive analysis of post-9/11 federal war and war related spending conducted by the Costs of War Project is only one part of a greater assessment of the impact of these wars. The US economy will, in the long run, find it difficult to sustain this level of military and war-related spending and the deficits it produces.

Finally, the base budget for the Pentagon has remained high even when the US decreases war spending. Indeed, the larger defense budget has largely escaped critical analysis since the 9/11 attacks. The Congress’ attitude almost seems to be that the Pentagon deserves whatever funding they ask for, no matter the cost, and regardless of whether or not this spending is efficient or wise.

High levels of mobilization also pose an opportunity cost, leaving domestic priorities underfunded, and taking resources away from threats that are certain to materialize.

As per a source, “It is not necessary to put US soldiers lives at risks in all foreign conflicts when the same work can be done by training the local forces to defend their territories and get them rid of the Terrorist forces. US has got Afghanistan freedom from Islamist Radical Talibans who were beheading people, helped Kurds get rid of ISIS who were also beheading people and keeping women slaves in cages. US has not only spent money but agreed to keep a small contingent of US soldiers in those countries for defending American interests and to keep those territories falling in the hands of ISIS/Taliban again. Now it is up to those countries to defend their own territories.”

US has already placed sanctions on Iran. Now as Turkey began killing Kurds in Syria, US placed sanctions on Turkey as well. We covered it in our previous article “President Trump Imposed Sanctions On Turkey, EU Nations To Follow Suit : Turkey Stock Market Crash

In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable. The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities.

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