Stop funding war, increase funding for social programs abroad and at home

Below are facts and figures concerning the massive war spending taking place in the occupation of Afghanistan:

Number of Afghan civilian deaths recorded by the UN January-July 2009: 1,013, a rise of 24 percent from the same period in 2008 (the actual numbers are estimated to be far higher).

Annual funding for U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, 2002: $20.8 billion.

Annual funding for U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, 2009: $60.2 billion.

Total funds for U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, 2002-2009: $228.2 billion.

Estimated total funds for Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, 2001-2011: $18.5 billion.

War-fighting funds requested by the Obama administration for 2010: $68 billion (a figure which will, for the first time since 2003, exceed funds requested for Iraq).

U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, 2002: 5,200.

Canadian troop levels in Afghanistan, 2002: 850

Expected U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, December 2009: 68,000.

Canadian troop levels in Afghanistan, 2009: 2,700

Funds recently requested by U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry for non-military spending in Afghanistan, 2010: $2.5 billion.

Funds spent since 2001 on Afghan “reconstruction”: $38 billion (“more than half of it on training and equipping Afghan security forces”).

Percentage of U.S. funding in Afghanistan that has gone for military purposes: Nearly 90 percent.

Cost of the latest upgrade of Bagram Air Base (an old Soviet base that has become the largest American base in Afghanistan): $220 million.

Number of U.S. regional command centers in Afghanistan: 4 (at Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Bagram).

Number of U.S. prisons and holding centers: approximately 36 “overcrowded and often violent sites” with 15,000 detainees.

Number of U.S. bases: at least 74 in northern Afghanistan alone, with more being built. (The total number of U.S. bases in Afghanistan seems not to be available.)

Number of Canadian bases in Afghanistan: 2

Percentage of American spy planes and unmanned aerial vehicles now devoted to Afghanistan: 66 percent (33 percent are in Iraq).

Cost of a single recent Pentagon contract to DynCorp International Inc. and Fluor Corporation “to build and support U.S. military bases throughout Afghanistan”: up to $15 billion.

Estimated cost per troop of maintaining U.S. forces in Afghanistan when compared to Iraq: 30 percent higher.

Number of gallons of fuel per day used by the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan: 800,000.

Cost of a single gallon of gas delivered to the Afghan war zone on long, cumbersome, and dangerously embattled supply lines: Up to $100.

Number of gallons of fuel used to keep Marine tents cool in the Afghan summer and warm in winter: 448,000 gallons.

Number of military contractors hired by the Pentagon in Afghanistan by the end of June 2009: Almost 74,000, nearly two-thirds of them local hires, a 9 percent rise over the previous three months.

Percentage of the Pentagon’s force in Afghanistan made up of contractors in March 2009: 57 percent. This is the highest percentage of paid mercenaries for any war in U.S. history.

Cost of new “crash” program to expand the U.S. “diplomatic presence” in Afghanistan and Pakistan: $1 billion. ($736 million of which is slated for the construction of a massive new embassy/regional headquarters in Islamabad, Pakistan.)

Number of additional U.S. government personnel reportedly slated to be sent to Pakistan to augment the 750 civilians already there: almost 1,000. Estimated total number of civilians to be assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as part of a proposed ongoing “civilian surge” by 2011: 1,350 (800 to be posted in Kabul, 550 outside the capital).

Cost of the State Department’s five-year contract with Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) to provide security for U.S. diplomats in Afghanistan: $210 million.

Cost of the State Department’s contract with ArmorGroup North America, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Wackenhutt Services Inc., to guard the U.S. Embassy in Kabul: $189 million.

Percentage rise in attacks on coalition forces by Afghan resistance using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in 2009 (compared to the same period in 2008): 114 percent.

Rise in Coalition deaths from IED attacks in July 2009 (compared to July 2008): six-fold.

Percentage increase in overall attacks on occupation forces in the first five months of 2009 (compared to the same period in 2008): 59 percent.

A panel of experts on the Afghan War, including Bruce Riedel, a 30-year CIA veteran and adviser to four presidents, who chaired President Obama’s Afghan task force, two members of the task force of U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan Stanley A. McChrystal, and the Brooking Institute’s Michael O’Hanlon estimated that: (1) A significant escalation of the war will be necessary to avoid utter defeat. (2) Even if tens of thousands of troops are added to the U.S. occupation, it will not be possible to determine if the U.S./NATO effort is succeeding until eighteen months later. (3) No significant drawdown of U.S. forces will take place until five years have passed. Riedel commented, “Anyone who thinks that in 12 to 18 months we are going to be anywhere close to victory is living in a fantasy.”

New chief of staff of the British Army, General Sir David Richards: “The Army’s role will evolve, but the whole process might take as long as 30 to 40 years.” New NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: NATO’s mission in Afghanistan will last “as long as it takes” to ensure that the country is secure.

(tomdispatch.com, Wikipedia, Website for Canada’s Engagement in Afghanistan)

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