Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Pentagon is trying to silence economists

March 12, 2007: The Pentagon is trying to silence economists who predict that several decades of care for the wounded will amount to an unbelievable $2.5 trillion. . . .

To draw attention to her academic findings, Linda Bilmes wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times of 5 January 2007 in which she quoted the figure of "more than 50,000 wounded Iraq war soldiers". The reaction from the Pentagon was fury. An assistant secretary there named Dr William Winkenwerder phoned her personally to complain. Bilmes recalls: "He said, 'Where did you get those numbers from?'" She explained to Winkenwerder that the 50,000 figure came from the VA, and faxed him copies of official US government documents that proved her point. Winkenwerder backed down. . . .

In this war, 21st-century medical care and better armour have inflated the numbers of the wounded-but-living, leading Bilmes to an astounding conclusion: for every soldier dying in Iraq or Afghanistan today, 16 are being wounded. The Pentagon insists the figure is nearer nine - but, either way, the economic implications for the future are phenomenal.
What Bilmes had discovered was that the tally of US fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan included the outcome of "non-hostile actions", most commonly vehicle accidents. But the Pentagon's statistics of the wounded did not. ...To explore the ratio of wounded to deaths in previous American wars. They found that in the First World War, on average 1.8 were wounded for every fatality; in the Second World War, 1.6; in Korea, 2.8; in Vietnam, 2.6; and, in the first Gulf war in 1991, 1.2.
So far, more than 200,000 veterans from the current Iraq or Afghanistan wars have been treated at VA centres. Twenty per cent of those brought home are suffering from serious brain or spinal injuries, or the severing of more than one limb, and a further 20 per cent from amputations, blindness or deafness, severe burns, or other dire conditions.
The paper on the real cost of the war, written by Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2001, and Linda Bilmes, a Harvard budget expert, is likely to add to the pressure on the White House on the war.
Iraq Body Count: 03/21/07
Americans Killed: 3223
Americans Wounded: 24,042
770 contractor deaths
and 7,761 injured in Iraq as of December 31, 2006,
Iraqi Dead: Est.: 655,000

It was only four years ago when Lawrence Lindsey, then-head of the White House's National Economic Council, estimated that the "upper bound" of the cost of going to war with Iraq would be between $100-billion and $200-billion.

The massive size of that estimate scandalized the Bush administration. Up until then, the Pentagon had been privately telling Congress to expect a cost of about $50-billion.

By February 2003, just weeks before the invasion, the numbers coming out of the Defense Department had grown to between $60-billion and $95-billion. But even then, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense at the time, was telling Congress that the upper range was too high and that Iraq's oil wealth would offset some of the cost. "To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong," Wolfowitz told a congressional committee.

Members of Congress Ask Bush to Stop Undercounting US Casualties

(I posted this on my website on December 11, 2005)

A group of seven House Democrats wrote President Bush this week, accusing the Pentagon of underreporting casualties in Iraq.

It's a shocking charge. The letter writers argue that Pentagon casualty reports show only a sliver of the injuries, mostly physical ones from bombs or bullets. But war doesn't work like that, the Democrats declare, adding that the reports skip a horrible panoply of accidents, illness, disease and mental trauma.

Pentagon casualty reports show 2,390 service members dead from Iraq and Afghanistan and over 16,000 wounded. By far the vast majority of the wounded and dead are from Iraq.

But by Dec. 8, 2005, the military had evacuated another 25,289 service members from Iraq and Afghanistan for injuries or illnesses not caused directly by enemy bullets or bombs, according to the U.S. Transportation Command. That statistic includes everything from serious injuries in Humvee wrecks or other accidents to more routine illnesses that could be unrelated to field battles.

An October V.A. report shows that 119,247 service members who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan - and are now off duty - are receiving health care from the V.A. Presumably, some of those health problems are unrelated to the war.

But the statistics seem to show that a lot of those health problems are war-related. For example, nearly 37,000 have mental disorders, including nearly 16,000 who have been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder. Over 46,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan receiving benefits from the V.A. have musculoskeletal problems. These are all veterans who within the last four years were considered by the military to be mentally and physically fit enough to fight.

March 19, 2007: In June 2005, the Submarine Launched Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, a new missile specifically for Trident submarines, was announced by Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy.

The new SLIRBM is capable of delivering a 1,000-pound conventional payload 1,200 miles within 15 minutes of launch and represents the latest U.S. military strategies for global dominance.

In 2005, the U.S. Navy transferred two Trident D-5 ballistic missile submarines to Bangor from the submarine base at Kings Bay, Ga. The increase in the Pacific force, the largest nuclear submarine force in the Pacific since 1979, reflects increased targeting of Middle Eastern and Asian targets.

On March 2, the Bush administration selected the design for the nation's first new nuclear warhead in nearly two decades, a replacement for the W76 warhead for the Trident system.
Trident ballistic missile submarines currently deploy with six nuclear warheads for each of the 24 missiles on one submarine. The W76 warhead, initially based at Bangor, is equal to 100 kilotons (about six Hiroshima-size bombs). The W88 warhead, equal to 455 kilotons, was later developed and deployed. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that 264 W88 warheads are deployed at Bangor.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo
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