Category Archives: Merchants of Death

Micah Zenko: “Most reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by Assad regime”

Micah Zenko writes for the Council on Foreign Relations:

Syria-StatsEstimates released today [April 1st] by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) portray a different picture of the civil war in Syria than U.S. policymakers and media convey. SOHR’s estimated death toll reinforces the point made in an article published on in September 2013, when they last released updated data: most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command. Additionally, the involvement of various individuals and groups in the conflict has broadened greatly since SOHR’s September 2013 estimate.

Despite the potential bias and the methodological challenges it faces, SOHR has unrelentingly compiled casualty data since the start of the conflict in Syria more than three years ago. While the United Nations (UN) last updated its estimated death toll in July 2013 at 100,000 killed, and has since stated it will no longer provide updates, SOHR’s update released today estimates a total of 150,344 people killed since March 2011. SOHR’s estimates are presented below.

There are two noticeably provocative elements of SOHR’s estimates. First, while estimates for rebel force casualties were a separate category in SOHR’s previous estimates, SOHR has now included rebel force casualties (24,275) within civilian casualties, totaling 75,487. Above, rebel forces have been listed separately, which reveals that, according to SOHR’s estimates, more pro-regime forces than civilians have been killed during the Syrian civil war.


French scientists: We’ve lost SARS virus vials

From The Local:

Photo: Frederic Brown/AFPFrance’s distinguished Institut Pasteur, which was among the first to isolate HIV in the 1980s, admitted on Monday that it has lost some 2,349 vials in 29 boxes, containing samples of the deadly SARS virus.

During a recent inventory researchers realized the vials were unaccounted for and so called in France’s drug and health safety agency “l’Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé” to help with the search, according to a statement from Institut Pasteur.

The drug and health safety people spent four days, from April 4th-12th, doing an ‘in depth’ investigation at the unnamed lab in question and came up empty handed as well.

SARS is not the kind of virus you’d want floating around.


Remote-control machine gun installed on top of wall near Bethlehem?

Phil Weiss and Annie Robbins report for Mondoweiss:

detail of photograph of wall north of Bethlehem

The above device, fixed lately to the top of the separation wall north of Bethlehem, is a remote-controlled rifle, according to Palestinian sources. Ma’an News published a report on the device three days ago, saying it’s “unprecedented” and is causing anxiety among Bethlehemites. A Facebook page called “Bethlahem Today” has the same report.


‘Landmines more dangerous the older they get’

From DW:

Landmines contaminate areas in almost 60 countries worldwide.

In nearly 60 nations worldwide, landmines buried underground remain a deadly threat to people. Former German Army Captain Gunder Pitzke works clearing mined areas and told DW about the hazards of the job.


New DARPA Office Merges Biology And Technology

Elena Malykhina reports for Information Week:

bioThe Defense Advance Research Program Agency (DARPA) has created a division that merges biology, engineering, and computer science to advance technologies for national security.

The goal of the Biological Technologies Office (BTO) is to develop next-generation systems that are inspired by the life sciences. Biology is among the core sciences that represent the future of defense technology, DARPA said. The BTO will expand on the work already carried out by DARPA’s Defense Sciences (DSO) and Microsystems Technology (MTO) Offices, particularly in disciplines such as neuroscience, sensor design, and microsystems.


Israel Buys $2 Billion in Warplanes, Assumes US Will Pay for It

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Ever confident in their ability to get the US to foot the bill for unwise purchases, Israel has announced the acquisition of $2 billion worth of the troubled V-22 Osprey planes, on a “deferred payment plan.” The reason for the deferred payment plan in this case is because Israel has no intention of paying for these planes, and is just putting them in the arms dealers’ equivalent of layaway until they can con the US into paying for it.

The planes won’t be coming out of the current promises of US aid, but rather will be covered by military aid the US hasn’t promised yet, which will be appropriated after 2018. Former Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon says it is “reasonable” for Israel to assume that the US will eventually cough up a couple billion dollars for the Ospreys, citing overwhelming support in the US Congress for all things Israel.


Potential Turkish Role in Syria Chemical Strike That Almost Sparked U.S. Bombing: Interview with Seymour Hersh

‘Was Turkey behind last year’s Syrian chemical weapons attack? That is the question raised in a new exposé by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh on the intelligence debate over the deaths of hundreds of Syrians in Ghouta last year. The United States, and much of the international community, blamed forces loyal to the Assad government, almost leading to a U.S. attack on Syria. But Hersh reveals the U.S. intelligence community feared Turkey was supplying sarin gas to Syrian rebels in the months before the attack took place — information never made public as President Obama made the case for launching a strike. Hersh joins us to discuss his findings.’ (Democracy Now!)

1950s: Army tests mosquitoes, fleas as biological weapons

Marc Valero reports for Highlands Today:

JONATHAN W. THOMAS/U.S. ARMYA military attack with about 230,000 mosquitoes infected with yellow fever would be difficult to detect and would be impossible for a nation to react quickly with a mass-immunization program, the U.S. Army Chemical Corps believed in the 1950s.

The corps put its theory to a test in two locations – Savannah, Ga. and the Avon Park Air Force Range.

With tests called Operation Big Buzz, Operation Big Itch and Operation Drop Kick, the corps explored the feasibility of using fleas and mosquitoes as weapons.


Bringing the big guns to U.S. borders

Tom A. Peter reports for Al Jazeera:

Robot at security expo

Credit: Matt York/AP

Scores of security companies selling everything from Taser-resistant clothing to armored vehicles packed a convention center here this week. Outside the showroom, speakers from the top of organizations like Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security gave talks to members of the security industry about their organizations’ operations and needs.

Now in its eighth year, the Border Security Expo may be more important than ever for the security industry. With America’s foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over or coming to a close, many security companies are now forced to look for new markets to maintain their business levels.

Many within the security industry have turned to border security, a potentially lucrative alternative to fill in the gaps. Still, it remains to be seen just how much, if anything, the border region can offer the security industry.


US air force documents reveal ‘rot’ in culture of nuclear weapons officers

From the Associated Press:

The launch key mechanism at the deactivated Delta Nine Launch Facility near Wall, South Dakota.Failings exposed last spring at a US nuclear missile base, reflecting what one officer called “rot” in the ranks, were worse than originally reported, according to air force documents obtained by the Associated Press.

Airmen responsible for missile operations at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, passed an inspection in March 2013 with a “marginal” rating, the equivalent of a “D’’ in school. But it now turns out that even that was only because of good marks received by support staff like cooks and facilities managers, as well as a highly rated training program. Launch officers, or missileers, entrusted with the keys to the missiles did poorly and, on their own, would have flunked, the records show.

“Missileer technical proficiency substandard,” one briefing slide says. “Remainder [of missile operations team] raised grade to marginal.”

The documents also hint at an exam-cheating problem in the making among launch crews at Minot, almost a full year before allegations of widespread cheating erupted this January at a companion nuclear base in Montana.


‘Torture gear’ brochures at world’s largest weaponry fair backfire

Cahal Milmo reports for The Independent:

Anti-arms trade campaigners have launched an unprecedented private prosecution against two defence companies for allegedly marketing torture equipment at the world’s largest weaponry fair in London. Lawyers said that the rare private proceedings were being mounted because state bodies had failed to act on allegations that laws banning the export of illegal weaponry were broken at the biennial Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London’s Docklands last year.

French company Magforce International and a Chinese exhibitor, Tianjin Myway International, were ejected from the event after brochures, seen by The Independent, were found to contain products including leg restraints and electronic stun batons. Despite details on the companies being passed to investigators at HM Revenue & Customs six months ago, no charges were brought prior to the expiry of a prosecution deadline earlier this month.


Controversy Brews Over Role Of ‘Killer Robots’ In Theater of War

Cameron Scott writes for Singularity Hub:


Technology promises to improve people’s quality of life, and what could be a better example of that than sending robots instead of humans into dangerous situations? Robots can help conduct research in deep oceans and harsh climates, or deliver food and medical supplies to disaster areas.

As the science advances, it’s becoming increasingly possible to dispatch robots into war zones alongside or instead of human soldiers. Several military powers, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and China, are already using partially autonomous weapons in combat and are almost certainly pursuing other advances in private, according to experts.

The idea of a killer robot, as a coalition of international human rights groups has dubbed the autonomous machines, conjures a humanoid Terminator-style robot. The humanoid robots Google recently bought are neat, but most machines being used or tested by national militaries are, for now, more like robotic weapons than robotic soldiers. Still, the line between useful weapons with some automated features and robot soldiers ready to kill can be disturbingly blurry.

Whatever else they do, robots that kill raise moral questions far more complicated than those posed by probes or delivery vehicles. Their use in war would likely save lives in the short run, but many worry that they would also result in more armed conflicts and erode the rules of war — and that’s not even considering what would happen if the robots malfunctioned or were hacked.


Deadly chemical weapons, buried and lost, lurk under U.S. soil

David Zucchino reports for the LA Times:

…Even as the United States pushes Syria to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction in a matter of months, this country has struggled for decades with its own deadly stockpiles.

Redstone Arsenal, in the swampy lowlands of northern Alabama, is the largest of the 249 sites in 40 states and territories where chemical weapons remain buried and await cleanup at a cost of billions of dollars. Just outside the Redstone gates is Huntsville, a city of nearly 200,000 residents.

As World War II ended, the United States military collected chemical weapons from Nazi Germany and Japan, as well as from British and American stockpiles. A million chemical weapon munitions marked for storage or disposal were shipped to Redstone, where the U.S. had produced blister agents and other chemical weapons during the war.

Some of the material was burned or blown up. Some was stored in stockpiles. What remained was stacked in trenches and buried.

Today a toxic stew of some of the most lethal weapons ever devised rests beneath the surface: Nazi mustard, a liquid blister agent. Lewisite, another blister agent. Adamsite, a vomiting agent. And possibly Nazi tabun, a nerve agent. Also buried are containers of white phosphorus, chlorine, smoke bombs, tear gas and incendiary bombs.


Neocon William Kristol: War-Weariness As an Excuse

War loving Neocon William Kristol writes for the magazine he edits and founded, The Weekly Standard:

Are Americans today war-weary? Sure. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been frustrating and tiring. Are Americans today unusually war-weary? No. They were wearier after the much larger and even more frustrating conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. And even though the two world wars of the last century had more satisfactory outcomes, their magnitude was such that they couldn’t help but induce a significant sense of war-weariness. And history shows that they did.

So American war-weariness isn’t new. Using it as an excuse to avoid maintaining our defenses or shouldering our responsibilities isn’t new, either. But that doesn’t make it admirable.


SIPRI Report: India remains world’s largest arms buyer

Michael Pizzi reports for Al Jazeera:

India remains the world’s largest arms buyer by a huge margin, even as regional rivalries spur the flow of arms to other countries in Asia, according to a report released Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). India increased its arms imports by 111 percent in the past five years compared with 2004–08, and it now accounts for 14 percent of the world’s arms imports. The mainly Russian-supplied flow of arms to India dwarfs the imports of its regional rivals China and Pakistan, the second- and third-largest buyers.

…The United States and Russia dominate arms exports — over half the market, combined — but their business has diversified and shifted focus from Europe toward emerging world powers such as India, Brazil and China. Even as European imports declined by a full quarter over the past five years, the volume of global arms sales climbed 14 percent in 2009 through 2013 compared with the previous five-year period, SIPRI found. Because arms sales fluctuate year to year, SIPRI uses a five-year average to provide a more stable measure of trends.


Chomsky: From Hiroshima to Fukushima, Vietnam to Fallujah, State Power Ignores Its Massive Harm

‘World-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MITProfessor Noam Chomsky traveled to Japan last week ahead of the three-year anniversary of the Fukushima crisis. Chomsky, now 85 years old, met with Fukushima survivors, including families who evacuated the area after the meltdown. “[It's] particularly horrifying that this is happening in Japan with its unique, horrendous experiences with the impact of nuclear explosions, which we don’t have to discuss,” Chomsky says. “And it’s particularly horrifying when happening to children — but unfortunately, this is what happens all the time.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

“A Slow Genocide of the People”: Uranium Mining Leaves Toxic Nuclear Legacy on Indigenous Land

‘The iconic Grand Canyon is the site of a battle over toxic uranium mining. Last year, a company called Energy Fuels Resources was given federal approval to reopen a mine six miles from the Grand Canyon’s popular South Rim entrance. A coalition of Native and environmental groups have protested the decision, saying uranium mining could strain scarce water sources and pose serious health effects. Diné (Navajo) tribal lands are littered with abandoned uranium mines. From 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were chiseled and blasted from the mountains and plains of the region. More than 1,000 mines have closed, but the mining companies never properly disposed of their radioactive waste piles, leading to a spike in cancer rates and other health ailments. Broadcasting from Flagstaff, Arizona, we speak with Taylor McKinnon, director of energy with Grand Canyon Trust, and Klee Benally, a Diné (Navajo) activist and musician. “It’s really a slow genocide of the people, not just indigenous people of this region, but it’s estimated that there are over 10 million people who are residing within 50 miles of abandoned uranium mines,” Benally says. Benally also describes the struggle to preserve the San Francisco Peaks, an area considered sacred by 13 Native tribes, where the Snowbowl ski resort is using treated sewage water to make snow.’ (Democracy Now!)

Top 5 Craziest Ways Animals Have Been Weaponized

‘Abby Martin speaks with Breaking the Set producer Manuel Rapalo about the top five strangest ways human beings have turned animals into weapons, going over everything from strapping napalm on bats to having sea lions handcuff people.’ (Breaking the Set)

ABC News Attempts to Reignite Fears of US-Russia Nuclear War

Fearmongering segment begins at 6:23

Global military spending is now an integral part of capitalism

Richard Seymour writes for the Guardian:

Soldiers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Photograph: Chinafotopress/Getty Images)

China’s surge in military spending gains headlines, partly because of the ominous implications regarding its regional contest with Japan, but it’s the deeper structures of military spending in general that are far more compelling.

There are few surprises about the distribution of military spending: for all the current focus on China’s growing military outlays – and it is significant that they have embarked on a sequence of double-digit increases as a percentage of GDP – the United States still accounts for 40% of such expenditures. However, the distribution is not the only thing that matters; it’s the sheer scale of such investment – $1.756tn in 2012. The “peace dividend” from the end of the cold war has long since bitten the dust. Global military spending has returned to pre-1989 levels, undoubtedly a legacy of the war on terror and the returning salience of military competition in its context. In fact, by 2011 global military spending was higher than at any year since the end of the second world war.

So, what is the explanation for such huge investments? Is it simply the case that states are power-maximising entities, and that as soon as they have access to enough taxable income they start dreaming war?


Dahr Jamail: Iraqi Government Killing Civilians in Fallujah

Dahr Jamail writes for Truthout:

Boy at hospital in Fallujah, Iraq. (Photo: <a href=""target="_blank"> Larisa Epatko for PBS NewsHour  / Flickr</a>)

Photo: Larisa Epatko for PBS NewsHour / Flickr

Doctors, residents and NGO workers in Fallujah are accusing the Iraqi government of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” that have occurred as a result of its ongoing attack on the city.

Dr. Ahmed Shami, the chief of resident doctors at Fallujah General Hospital, told Truthout that since Iraqi government forces began shelling Fallujah in early January 2014, at least 109 civilians have been killed and 632 wounded.

“Ten of those killed were children, and 40 of the wounded are children,” Shami said. He also said five of the dead are women, as are 35 of the wounded.

“Many children have been killed in cold blood as the result of the indiscriminate shelling of the city,” Shami said. “At the same time, there are many young people from the city who (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-)Maliki’s army has killed and burned their bodies.”

While the Iraqi government has not cut the city’s water and electricity, doctors in Fallujah told Truthout that the Iraqi army, which they refer to as “Maliki’s forces,” continues to prevent medical supplies from entering the city.


Nukes Now: Obama Worse Than Reagan

Steve Breyman writes for CounterPunch:


We spent much of the eighties resisting Ronald Reagan’s new Cold War, and his new nuclear weapons of all shapes and sizes. We pushed back against his giant ‘defense’ budgets and countered his harrowing rhetoric. We knew Star Wars was a scam, and the MX missile a danger. We grimaced at his appointments to key policymaking positions, and scoffed at his insincere arms control efforts.

In the end, we prevailed (after a sort). We get much of the credit for preventing planetary incineration that seemed frighteningly close at the time (Gorbachev deserves some too). Professional activists, Plowshares heroes, and a handful of stalwart others stayed in the anti-nuclear weapons movement trenches. Although nukes were not abolished with the end of the Cold War, most of the rest of us nonetheless moved on to fight other evils, and to work on one or more better world construction projects.

It’s time to return. President Obama released his FY 2015 budget on Tuesday, March 4. Ready for this? It asks for considerably more money (in constant dollars) for nuclear weapons maintenance, design and production than Reagan spent in 1985, the historical peak of spending on nukes: $8.608 billion dollars, not counting administrative costs. The Los Alamos Study Group crunched the numbers for us.


Russia’s Vladimir Putin Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

Nick Robins-Early writes for The Huffington Post:

President Vladimir Putin has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, according to director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute Geir Lundestad. The announcement on Wednesday comes at an awkward time as Russia currently stands accused of invading Ukraine, something most people recognize as one of the most un-peaceful things a leader can do.

Voice of Russia notes that the nomination had likely been submitted back in October, when Putin had just acted as a main figure in the deal to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons. This didn’t take into account that Putin was also providing Syria with conventional weapons, but such is the way the Nobel Peace Prize works. It’s a system much like the Pulitzer Prize, where it’s actually surprisingly easy to get nominated for the award and often doesn’t really mean anything.


Marshall Islanders afraid to go home 60 years after Bikini Atoll H-bomb

Giff Johnson writes for AFP:

Islanders afraid to go home 60 years after Bikini Atoll H-bombThe Marshall Islands marks 60 years since the devastating US hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll Saturday, with angry exiled residents saying they are too fearful ever to go home. Part of the intense Cold War nuclear arms race, the 15-megaton Bravo test on March 1, 1954 was a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It vaporised one island and exposed thousands in the surrounding area to radioactive fallout. As those who remember that terrifying day and younger generations gather in the Marshall Islands’ capital of Majuro to commemorate the anniversary, many exiles refuse to go back to the zones that were contaminated, despite US safety assurances. “I won’t move there,” Evelyn Ralpho-Jeadrik, 33, said of her home atoll, Rongelap, which was engulfed in a snowstorm of fallout from Bravo and evacuated two days after the test. “I do not believe it’s safe and I don’t want to put my children at risk.”

People returned to live on Rongelap in 1957 but fled again in 1985 amid fears — later proved correct — about residual radiation. Rongelap, one of more than 60 in a necklace of coral islands, has been cleaned up as part of a US-funded $45 million programme, but Ralpho-Jeadrik has no intention of going back. “I will be forever fearful. The US told my mother it was safe and they returned to Rongelap only to be contaminated again,” she said. It is not just their homes which have been lost, says Lani Kramer, 42, a councilwoman in Bikini’s local government, but an entire swathe of the islands’ culture. “As a result of being displaced, we’ve lost our cultural heritage — our traditional customs and skills, which for thousands of years were passed down from generation to generation,” she said. Bikini islanders have lived in exile since they were moved for the first weapons tests in 1946, when Kramer’s own grandparents were evacuated. When US government scientists declared Bikini safe for resettlement, some residents were allowed to return in the early 1970s. But they were removed again in 1978 after ingesting high levels of radiation from eating local foods grown on the former nuclear test site.


Jeremy Scahill: The One Party State, The War Party

Bill Maher Slams Bill Kristol: Have You Ever Met a War You Didn’t Love?

Kerry Was Right the First Time: America Is Not ‘Retreating’ Into ‘Isolationism’

John Glaser writes for Antiwar:


At the beginning of this month, John Kerry vehemently dismissed the criticism that America is “retreating” from the world. Not even four weeks later, he is making that very criticism. He was right the first time. Like the John Kerry of February 1st, I can’t think of one single place in the world where the United States is withdrawing.

  • Our State Department has helped usher in a change of government in Ukraine, as Washington continues to compete with Moscow for influence in a post-Soviet state that is of no vital interest to the U.S. Across Europe, in countries like Germany, Italy, Greece, Belgium, et al., Washington maintains military bases and continues to push for the expansion of NATO.
  • The Obama administration continues to meddle in the Syrian civil war, futilely supporting rebel militias that are making the country and the region more dangerous; all the while demanding Assad step down, as if America has the God-given right to dictate heads of state.
  • In Latin America, Washington is sending millions of dollars to opposition groups in Venezuela in the midst of instability and disorder because the U.S. has long opposed the leftist leadership. In places like Honduras, Washington is supportingcorruption, military repression, and fraudulent elections even as human rights groups publicly urge the U.S. to stay out of their internal affairs.
  • In Israel and Palestine, the U.S. continues to pretend to be an impartial arbiter, even as it supports the Israeli government with $3 billion every year and all the advanced weapons systems it could want. The decades-long military occupation and creeping annexation of the West Bank is an issue which reverberates across the Middle East and the world and generates extreme hatred towards the U.S. thanks to our interventionism.
  • The Obama administration has taken it upon itself to wage a secret, unaccountable drone war in which any target may be designated for extra-judicial assassination without any independent review or due process, in a legal view which understands the entire world as a legitimate battlefield. Drones have been deployed in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and others.
  • The U.S. is increasingly supporting dictatorial governments in Africa – Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and beyond – to serve its own geopolitical ambitions. Joint Special Operations forces are conducting operations in Somalia, Nigeria, Libya, and training militaries in more than a dozen African countries.
  • The Asia-Pivot is a plan to militarily encircle China with forward operating bases and a significant boost to our naval presence in across East Asia, all in an attempt to head off a Beijing with more economic and military influence, which we reserve for ourselves only.
  • Not only does the U.S. maintain an empire of 1,000 military bases in over 130 countries around the world, but small units of elite special forces were secretly deployed into – at last count – 134 nations last year.

I could go on. I didn’t even mention the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the support of the Iraqi dictatorship putting the country on a path to civil war, Iran, etc. etc. No, unicorns don’t exist, the Earth isn’t flat, and the U.S. is not “in retreat.”


Pentagon wants to fit soldiers with a little black box brain implant

Matthew Humphries writes for Geek:

bionic_implant_02Black box recorders are a common feature in aircraft. They sit there keeping track of everything that is happening. Then, if something goes wrong the information can be reviewed to piece together exactly what happened and form a view of the events that may otherwise have been lost.

Now the Pentagon is attempting to develop a similar system for use in humans, and in particular soldiers who have suffered brain damage. If they could be fitted with a black box in their brain, then it may be possible to trigger memories surrounding a traumatic event and overcome memory loss quickly and easily.


Israel raised 11% of all global cyber defense investments in 2013

Man analyzes computer codeFrom the Jerusalem Post:

Israeli companies in the field of cyber security raised $165 million in 2013, about 11% of the world total, Israel National Cyber Bureau chief Eviatar Matania told the Cabinet on Sunday. Israeli exports in the cyber field, he said, amounted to $3 billion, representing about 5% of the global market, and triple that of the United Kingdom. They represent about 14.5% of total cyber companies in the world.

“We established the INCB in order to assist turning Israel into a major cyber power,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the meeting.  “I see the INCB as spurring strong economic development, especially since there is considerable global interest in our abilities, and this can serve not only the defense component, but that of economic growth as well,” he added.


Last month, Israel launched CyberSpark, a high-tech park in Beersheba devoted to cyber security, and meant to take advantage of the proximity to Ben-Gurion University, the train, and future IDF bases. The park has already drawn investments from Lockheed Martin and IBM. The INCB and the chief scientist’s office have budgeted NIS 80 million, over two years, to support Israeli companies in the field.

Iraq, Afghan wars will cost to $4 trillion to $6 trillion, Harvard study says

Ernesto Londoño writes for the Washington Post:

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher. Washington increased military benefits in late 2001 as the nation went to war, seeking to quickly bolster its talent pool and expand its ranks. Those decisions and the protracted nation-building efforts launched in both countries will generate expenses for years to come, Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor, wrote in the report that was released Thursday.

“As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives,”the report says. “The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.” Bilmes said the United States has spent almost $2 trillion already for the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those costs, she said, are only a fraction of the ultimate price tag. The biggest ongoing expense will be providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans of the two conflicts.