1Most of the stories headlining how President Obama plans to cut troops in Afghanistan as part of his planned exit from that country have not bothered to provide numbers on US military spending there.

A few have, but almost in passing. For example, CNN doesn’t indicate the current levels of spending, but notes that:

Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told CNN that the United States will spend about $20 billion on the continued military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

In other words, $20 billion is what the US will spend after it has effectively “withdrawn.”

Too bad news organizations don’t routinely give us a sense of what we are spending, or what else we might get for the same monies directed toward other purposes.

But here’s one thing to consider: $20 billion is about one-third to one-half of what the United States Department of Education spends on elementary, secondary and vocational education, and comparable to what it spends on higher education.

When President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2013 budget, Education Secretary Arne Duncan “announced that high-quality education is absolutely critical to rebuilding our economy.” Maybe so, but domestic spending is constantly under assault — and the lawmakers who reflexively support any and all military allocations are often the same ones complaining about “big government” and “wasteful” spending.

Here are a few other comparative statistics: (numbers vary, of course, from year to year)

-$20 billion is what the US government budgeted for 2013 to subsidize often-struggling farmers

-It’s four-fifths of what we spend for science, space and technology

-It’s more than twice the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency

-It’s a third of what we spend on veterans’ hospital and medical care—on the people who fight in all wars combined

-It’s about a third of what we spend on administration of justice

-It’s five times what’s budgeted for energy conservation in 2014 and 2015

-It’s about 8 times what we spend on national parks—which have suffered continued cuts in recent years, resulting in reduced services and closures

If it’s not achieving something of clear benefit to Americans, why does the spending continue at such levels? Here’s another thing to consider, a graphic on Afghanistan we’ve run in the past to considerable interest:


Sources for Budget Data:

OMB Historical Budget Tables

Department of Interior 2014 Budget Highlights

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  • Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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Good call, Russ. Great point about that “fuzzy math” …or lack of. While $20 billion is a large amount of money – and you put that into the right perspective here – it pales in comparison to what has already been spent in Afghanistan & Iraq.

Does the general public understand how much money has been spent over there, or have any perspective on what domestic trade-offs have been effected due to that spending? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s like the science of astronomy – the numbers are just too big to comprehend.

Thank you for the fresh view.

Zack B

$20 billion—that is about $2 million per soldier after the return of current troops. Pretty sure some dog-face is not going to get two mil–maybe around $30K if they are lucky. So where is the other $1.97 million going? To the thousands of war profiteers who feed off the Iraq and Afghan wars and do not want the trough to be empty.


If you Google “Dick Cheney’s pipeline”, or any of the many variations, you will quickly gain an understanding of why the Dick/Bush team were so intent on invading, and why we will continue to maintain our military presence there.
Otherwise, you just have to concede the fact that they have such top-rate, world-class, cutting-edge facilities for commercial-jet pilot training, as well as classes on how to successfully infiltrate American society, that we simply had to invade to put a stop to all that.
(I have a friend who’s son recently returned from his TOD in Afghanistan, and the major portion of his time spent in-country was guarding a “friendly” warlord’s poppy fields from incursion by “neighboring hostile forces.”)


Check out the opium production statistics and a major reason for invading Afghanistan becomes obvious. The taliban nearly ended opium production when they were in charge, which is why they had to be removed from power.


remember hearing long ago that with the money spent in Afghanistan we
could literally buy off (buy the “loyalty” of) thousands of Afghani
families whose “loyalty” we are presumably trying to win anyhow.. -Jim Terr


I’m not very good at math – to how many American families could we parcel out that amount so that they, too, could be wealthy enough to participate in our “democracy,” where money is the only language spoken?


Complaining about what the government does with money might make some sense if it was accountable and representative, but as we read in a recently published academic study our form of governance is not one of accountability or of an electoral representational democracy; but rather a plutocracy. A better use of mental effort would be directed towards how do we proceed in establishing a democracy. We all should have a fairly good inkling by now of what the oligarch’s agenda are, ever expanding power and wealth for them at any cost to other life or life support systems and de population so that the status quo can be maintained…or rule by the plutocratic family compaq over the masses of humanity under a New World Order scenario.


Yet, anyone who becomes a focal point for “establishing a democracy” is targeted and neutralized by agents of The Empire. It seems the closest anyone can come to providing leadership is to write articles complaining about what is happening.


Yes, all the people’s leaders seem to come to untimely ends…perhaps as masses of consumers, voters or just the “public” (we are not often referred to as citizens anymore) that is wherein the people’s power lies… and with the help of the true media to counter all manner of lies and propaganda, and with unity of the people in common cause something may be achieved yet?


I would leave out the subsidization of “often-struggling farmers”. I’m sure there are some, but I’d be willing to bet big that most of that money goes to multi-millionaire farmers and agricultural corps.


Civil: the country is lost (that’s a f*cking fact)

Relevant: the only thing left is to wipe out all federal politicians and top-level bureaucrats — then hunt down the Rothechilds/Rockefellers/soros turds and other off-shore scumbags… execute them

Clear: there is no other way outside of a full-scale civil war — that is inevitable

Read ’em and weep. done.