1.2 Trillion. Goddam. Dollars.

On the “that malignant fool George W. Bush” theme again:

Think Progress has a piece titled “The $1.2 Trillion Trap: What America Gave Up For 10 Years Of War Since 9/11.

Nearly ten years after the United States sent our military forces into Afghanistan, our country has spent $1.2 trillion engaging in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the National Priorities Project (NPP). The wars are expected to cost much more than that by their conclusion, with some estimates ranging up to $3 trillion for the Iraq war alone.

By spending this much money on wars that ended up being America’s longest in history, the United States in some ways fell into Bin Laden’s trap. This money could’ve been used in ways that would’ve invested in America — securing access to health care, a decent education, and infrastructure for alternative energy. Using NPP metrics, ThinkProgress has assembled ten alternative policies that the United States could’ve pursued instead with this money that has been spent on the wars so far:

With $1.2 trillion, the U.S. could have done the following … every year for TEN YEARS:

•  PROVIDED 63.3 MILLION SCHOLARSHIPS FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
•  GIVEN 58.9 MILLION CHILDREN LOW-INCOME HEALTH CARE
•  GIVEN 23.6 MILLION PEOPLE ACCESS TO LOW-INCOME HEALTHCARE
•  PROVIDED 20.68 MILLION STUDENTS WITH PELL GRANTS WORTH $5,500
•  PROVIDED 15.12 MILLION HEAD START SLOTS FOR CHILDREN
•  PROVIDED VA CARE FOR 14.7 MILLION MILITARY VETERANS
•  HIRED 2.01 MILLION FIREFIGHTERS
•  HIRED 1.76 MILLION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS
•  HIRED 1.73 MILLION POLICE OFFICERS
•  RETROFITTED 69.4 MILLION HOUSEHOLDS FOR WIND POWER
•  RETROFITTED 26 MILLION HOUSEHOLDS FOR SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC ENERGY

For $1.2 trillion, we could have fed the world’s hungry. Done something about population. Saved the mountain gorillas and whales. Cured a dozen major diseases. Built solar collectors in space to beam down virtually unlimited energy.

Instead, we killed people. Set up a network of secret prisons. Used torture. Assaulted freedoms in our own country. And sent young men and women of America off to die and be horribly injured.

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About Hank Fox
  • http://existenceandessence.wordpress.com Amelia

    Damn right. I’m not sure I can even wrap my mind around what $1.2 trillion dollars actually is, but it gives me chills to think of what could have been accomplished if that’d been invested in something worthwhile.

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  • lordshipmayhem

    If we had not invaded Afghanistan, what should we have done? Remember, that was the home of al-Qaida training camps, of a government actively supporting acts of war against all of the West and all it stands for, violently at war with its own people, using the most spiteful version of Sharia law to conduct capital punishment for what we would never consider crimes. Is the alternative to allow them to continue to plan against us, continue to train for actions against us, to continue their battle to convert the entire world into their perverted, violent version of Islam? Or should we just use some of the stockpile of nuclear weapons and blast the country, with its captive population of women and opposing tribes, until it glowed in the dark?

    Iraq I agree never should have been invaded. Did we really have a choice about Afghanistan?

    • Hank Fox

      lordshipmayhem:

      If we mentally travel back in time and imagine doing something different, who says we have to set “after 9/11″ as the starting point for all imaginings?

    • don Roberto

      Yes, we did have another option. The Taliban offered to turn bin Laden over to a third party, with whom we could have then negotiated. Unfortunately, GWB had to be all “Walker, Texas Ranger” and go shock-n-awe on them, rather than actually getting what we wanted. All style, no substance, that boy. Unfortunately, his style cost … what was that amount? Oh, yeah, over a trillion bucks. And lives. Lots and lots of lives. And goodwill? Don’t make me retch.

      Yeah, we had another option, but it would have required a grownup in the White House.

  • Ing

    Lordshipmayhem

    Maybe we could have followed common sense when it comes to a military action. Set a realistic goal, get in, get out, try to make it as clean as possible

    Afganistan wasn’t a calculated response. It was Shock and Awe, aka “Lets go batshit and blow up as much as possible to teach em good!”

    A measured response could still have had us devote some military and intelligence to counter operations against Al Queda, and still not cost us the farm.

    Besides, not like it brought anyone lost on 9-11 back…what do we just throw good money over bad and keep wasting lives in some effort to make it ok?

  • jufulu

    I had to look it up to be sure, but it looks as if we have been in Afghanistan longer than the Soviets were. They were in for 9(ish) years. Go Team America.

  • Richard Simons

    lordshipmayhem: have you ever asked yourself why al-Qaida was interested in attacking the West, and the US in particular? The impression I get from talking with non-Westerners is that aggressive Islam has very little to do with the answer.

  • Richard Simons

    BTW: If the US was justified in attacking Afghanistan for the support it gave to al-Qaida, would the UK have been justified in bombing Boston for the support it gave to the IRA terror campaign? Things look different depending on where you are.

  • kraut

    “Did we really have a choice about Afghanistan?”

    Who made Osama what he became in the first place?
    Does the word “blowback” ring a bell?

    And then that:
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MI09Ak01.html

    “The government of then president Mohammad Khatami – with the backing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – strongly supported US efforts to topple the Taliban government and create a new administration for Afghanistan. Its reward: being labeled a member of an “axis of evil” along with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and North Korea.”

    “James Dobbins, a special US envoy for Afghanistan after 9/11, recalls a remarkable overture in March 2002 – two months after the “axis of evil” comment by Bush – when an Iranian general offered his country’s assistance in training 20,000 members of a new Afghan army.”

    “Dobbins said that continued Iranian cooperation might not have been decisive in Afghanistan given the Taliban’s stronger links to Pakistan. “In terms of Iraq, however, it could have made all the difference since at least 50% of the violence since 2003 has come from Shi’ite militants” who are either backed by Iran or otherwise susceptible to Iranian pressure, he said.”

    The word utter incompetence comes to mind.

  • arakasi

    I’m glad that you mentioned health care in that list. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on 9/11. Although a tragedy, that is less than the number of people who die in the US every month due to a lack of affordable health care.

    The first is a nation defining moment that requires us to sacrifice our liberties for the sake of security, the latter is just a statistic that we can’t do anything about because “OMFG DEATH PANELS!!!!!!”

    Some days, I just feel like giving up.

  • Mickie Moglia

    Because they’ve sold their soul to advertisers. Because they’re anti-pseudonym and pro-censorship. Etcetera, etcetera,