Some U.S. officials are voicing increasing concern about the burgeoning cost of American military involvement in simultaneous wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya.
By various government and private accounts, the U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion over the last decade on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and already more than $700 million in the three-month-old NATO air war against troops loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
President Barack Obama is preparing to announce U.S. troop withdrawals from the war front in Afghanistan in a televised address Wednesday night, and the U.S. involvement in Iraq is winding down this year. Some Americans, though, weary of a decade of warfare spawned by the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., are saying that with the sluggish national economy, the money spent on the wars instead should be spent on domestic needs.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors this week approved a resolution calling for an early end to the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and requesting the savings be spent at home. In Afghanistan, where 100,000 U.S. troops are stationed, the war tab is expected to reach nearly $120 billion this year.
One freshman U.S. senator, Joe Manchin of the eastern state of West Virginia, is a Democrat, as is the president. But on Tuesday, he called for a substantial troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, more than the president appears ready to endorse. Manchin said it is time “to rebuild America, not Afghanistan.” In an unusual coupling of political thought in the U.S., some of the most conservative Republican lawmakers have called for a diminished U.S. military force overseas, as have some of the country’s most liberal Democrats who normally would be aligned with Obama on other issues.
Yet Senator John McCain, the Republican Obama defeated in the 2008 presidential election, criticized Manchin’s call for a quick reduction in U.S. troops in Afghanistan. McCain, a U.S. Navy veteran once held as a prisoner of war in the Vietnam War, said Manchin’s comments were indicative of the “isolationist-withdrawal, lack-of-knowledge-of-history attitude that seems to be on the rise in America.”