New CBO Report: War Still Really Expensive

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The Congressional Budget Office released a report yesterday estimating that by 2017, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may have cost us up to $2.4 trillion. More than a quarter of that money will go to paying interest on the money we’ve borrowed to finance the conflict.

The White House, predictably, dismissed the numbers as “speculative.” But if you look at what we have already spent, the numbers seem right on target—maybe even low. According to the CBO’S report, the country has spent $604 billion since 2001. The total amount of money requested for 2008 alone is up to $196 billion, nearly a quarter of what’s been spent over the past five years. At that rate, we’ll sail past $2 trillion by 2014. And that’s not counting interest.

The report contains some other interesting reminders as well. Of the $604 billion spent since 2001, only $1.6 billion has been allocated to medical care, disability compensation, and survivor benefits. Only $30 billion has gone to training Iraqi and Afghan security forces. The Army estimates that it will need $12-$13 billion a year from now until at least two years after we leave just to repair its equipment. That’s a lot of money, and it seems like even more when you place it in the context of other major wars.

The result of all this vanishing cash, of course, is a severely depleted Army that continues to fight amidst ever-worsening conditions. See our current issue for thoughts on how to break this cycle.

—Casey Miner

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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