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Just A Drop In The Barrel

March 22, 2011

Gas prices suck, but what do we actually pay for a barrel of oil these days?  It’s a hell of a lot more than the “market price”…

The first day of Operation Odyssey Dawn had a price tag that was well over $100 million for the U.S. in missiles alone. And the U.S. military, which remains in the lead now in its third day, has pumped millions more into air- and sea-launched strikes targeting air-defense sites and ground-force positions along Libya’s coastline.

On the first day of strikes alone, U.S.-led forces launched 112 long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, which cost about $1 million to $1.5 million apiece, from ships stationed off the Libyan coast. That totaled $112 million to $168 million. Since those first strikes, U.S. and British forces have launched at least another 12 Tomahawk missiles.

The military flew the three bombers deployed for the mission from Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force Base, a nearly 12,000-mile round trip that will incur significant fuel and maintenance costs, Harrison said.

Meanwhile, it generally costs $10,000 per hour, including maintenance and fuel, to operate F-15s and F-16s. Those costs do not include the payloads dropped from the aircraft. The B-2s dropped 45 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMS, which are 2,000-pound bombs that cost between $30,000 and $40,000 apiece to replace.

How many teachers do we have to fire to pay for one of those missiles?  How many miles of high-speed rail could we build with the operational costs of a couple of B-2s flying half way around the world?  What else do we have to sacrifice to fight another undeclared war to protect oil company profits?  When are we going to learn that military interventions in civil wars are a disaster waiting to happen?

Gaddafi is crazy and evil; obviously, he wasn’t going to listen to our advice about democracy. The world would be fortunate to be rid of him. But war in Libya is justifiable only if we are going to hold compliant dictators to the same standard we set for defiant ones. If not, then please spare us all the homilies about universal rights and freedoms. We’ll know this isn’t about justice, it’s about power.

Make no mistake, the war in Libya is about oil.  Those still pushing the “humanitarian” reasoning as legitimate need to ask themselves some tough questions

But my real question for Judis (and those who voice the same accusations against Libya intervention opponents) is this: do you support military intervention to protect protesters in Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies from suppression, or to stop the still-horrendous suffering in the Sudan, or to prevent the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Ivory Coast? Did you advocate military intervention to protect protesters in Iran and Egypt, or to stop the Israeli slaughter of hundreds of trapped innocent civilians in Gaza and Lebanon or its brutal and growing occupation of the West Bank?

If you answered no to those questions, good for you, but unfortunately you’re going to have a really hard time selling the humanitarian reasoning when it comes to Libya.  The cognitive dissonance is deafening.

Wars are a bad idea even during the best of economic times and under the most ideal circumstances.  Libya doesn’t fit in either of those categories.  We’re now engaged in a country ripe for a prolonged insurgency with absolutely no idea when we’ll be done, and no realistic objective to meet.  Keeping civilians safe with air power alone is simply not going to happen, so what are we going to do when that fails?  Do we even have boots to put on the ground there?  I sincerely hope that this is over quickly, and all of this worry has been for nothing.  I really do.  But given our track record on ending wars for the last few decades, I guess I’m a little jaded.

The cost of our other two wars has helped push our nation to the brink, and we simply cannot afford another one.  If we want to save our dying middle class, we need to spend that money here to create jobs and energy independence now.  Gas prices are definitely a concern for our struggling economy, but another war won’t fix them, and until we extract ourselves from our oil-wars in the middle east they’re really just a drop in the barrel compared to the true cost.


What Keith said…

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