How Would the Government Pay for Intervention in Syria? And How Much is it Low-Balling Cost Estimates?


So how much would a Syria intervention cost anyways? Defense News reports that "Syria Strike Wouldn't Be Cheap" and quotes analysts saying the price tag would be in the "hundreds of millions of dollars."

Others say that if everything goes according to a limited plan, the cost could come in under $100 million. Still others—coff, coff, Leon Panetta—are using just the discussion of a possible action as a pretext to scotch the sequester cuts to military spending and back the Brinks trucks back up to the Pentagon. Just like the feds did throughout the past dozen or so years, when inflation-adjusted military spending rose by more than 70 percent.

Over at National Review Online, Reason columnist Veronique de Rugy notes that only one thing is certain: Any Syria action is likely to cost more—a lot more—than initially advertised. De Rugy reminds us of the ridiculous, low-ball estimates that preceded the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The Bush admin figured that $50 billion to $60 billion would cover everything, including rebuilding costs! The actual amount of direct costs is on the order of $1.7 trillion, plus at least another $45 billion on Veterans Administration costs for post-Iraq care. "I suspect that just like no one had any idea how costly the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would be," writes de Rugy, "no one really knows how this intervention will play out nor how much it would cost (not to mention what it would really achieve)."

As important as the actual amount of money spent, she stresses that how we pay for it matters too. Throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, de Rugy was among the few people to stress that most of the war was billed to emergency and supplemental appropriations, a loophole that allowed the government to avoid going through the sort of tougher budget processes through which spending is typically vetted. Even years into Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush admin was still claiming that the wars were surprise expenses.

And forget about actually doing the honorable thing, which would have been to pass a war tax to fund the operations. That's a tried-and-true way to make sure that citizens better understand the stakes and sacrifice that comes with waging war (which is precisely why pols avoid it if they can).

De Rugy stresses that given the current state of the American economy and the federal budget, elective war in Syria is not something that should go on the nation's Visa card. The Pentagon has long been complaining about the sequester's effects on its ability to spend spend spend, but it's up to them to figure out how to pay for a splendid little war in Syria without increasing overall outlays. Indeed, the sequester's impact on the Pentagon budget in FY2013 is something on the order of $55 billion out of total spending that topped over $900 billion in FY2012.

De Rugy:

Whether the intervention costs a little or a lot of money, we cannot afford to commit to an intervention without having a plan to pay for it. If some in Washington feel that an intervention in Syria is key to U.S. national-security interests, then they should identify lower-priorities that the Pentagon should put on the back burner to make space for this new one. That means identifying lower-priority spending items to cut to pay for this intervention. An alternative would be to make the case for a war tax.

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. I estimate the U.S. is going to make money on the deal!

    1. I estimate the U.S. is going to make money on the deal!

      Easy there shreeky….err…I mean Fisty!

    2. I estimate the U.S. military contractors are going to make money on the deal!


      1. No need to strike out “U.S.” — we know that the military contractors who make money on the deal will most likely be American.

    3. Bend the cost curve of war?

    4. By strengthening the credibility of the Office of President, not to mention the US Congress, the world will be more inclined to invest in America as a beacon of freedom. This surge in FDI will create thousands, nay, millions of jobs for Americans and help usher in a golden age of prosperity and freedom.

  2. It will pay for itself – in the flowers we’ll be showered with … as we desultoriclly bomb the shit out of random places in Syria.

    Well worth the effort in my book.

  3. Why would they give a shit how much it costs? They don’t give a shit about how much anything else they do costs. Paying for stuff is for the people who they stick holding the bag.

    1. Everything should be like, free and stuff, man.

      *bong bubbles in background*

      1. Hey, look, man, some of us can get stoned and not be retarded. Well, not that retarded.

        Professor Hubert Farnsworth: Hey! Unless this is a nude love-in, get the hell off my property!

        Free Waterfall Junior: You can’t own property, man.

        Professor Hubert Farnsworth: I can, but that’s because I’m not a penniless hippie.

  4. If they pay be a million dollars I will write nasty E-mails to Assad.

    1. Dear Assad

      Your Mother Was a Hamster and Your Father Smelt of Elderberries!

      Signed The United States

  5. most of the (Iraq) war was billed to emergency and supplemental appropriations

    Yes, I have been telling the Peanut Gallery that the last Bush deficit of $1.3 trillion was deceptively low due to supplemental budget tricks.

    The actual amount of direct costs is on the order of $1.7 trillion, plus at least another $45 billion on Veterans Administration costs for post-Iraq care.

    Which makes the paltry amount of Obama’s “wars” seem insignificant.

    1. So let’s have more?

      1. Remember Drake that in shreekys world did nothing for 8 years except support TEAM BUSH.

        He’s a tard!

        1. So was for the Iraq war and all the Democrats were against it. Got it.

    2. Well, unless you count the massive damage done to the American economy by the high oil prices that were directly caused by the chaos that occurred after the Qaddafi overthrow.

      The amount of per day oil production in Libya has fallen to less than 1/7 of what it was prior to our intervention in that country. You can’t underestimate the damage that is doing to the “recovery”, particularly in the poor communities that are being obliterated by high food and energy prices.

    3. Once again, I agree with Shrike.

      Palin’s Buttplug| 9.2.13 @ 5:57PM |#

      If everyone agreed with me I would quit posting.

    4. PB like ussual is confusing things. The Bush era war appropriations were indeed off budget like this article says. What that means is that total government expendatures looked low when annual budgets were passed (remember when those used to be done?)

      But off budget spending still shows up in the unified budget deficit numbers. So the deficit for each given year was not actually bigger that the reported value. Only annual appropriations were low balled from reality.

      1. So for instance, if not for Iraq and Afghanistan, even with all the other massive spending of the era, 2007 would have been roughly a balanced budget that year. The deficit was about $170 billion, about what was being spent between the two wars that year.

        1. Shreik knows this–he’s just being mendacious as usual.

          Throw some actual government numbers his way and he folds like a cheap suit.

  6. PFFFT. What’s the problem, man? We’ll just give the ‘ol money tree another shake or two.

    1. We could call that guy on the motorcycle in the GEICO commercials who is “made of money” maybe he could help?!

  7. A hunnerd dollars. Yep.

    I’m an excellent President.

  8. It doesn’t matter how much it costs, because BOOOSH spent more on wars!

    1. Well that took 5 minutes.

  9. I’d buy that for a dollar!

  10. same way we pay for everything above what we take in : The governments sells bonds to itself, while solemnly pinky swearing that it isn’t monetizing any debt.

  11. The Iraq War (at $1.7 trillion) is over 5000 Libyan “wars”.

    If nothing else you have to admire the cheapskate Obama.

    1. How much will it cost if Obama starts a war with Russia?

      1. Maybe this time, US troops will get further than Lake Baikal.

    2. I don’t even know how you can call the Iraq War a “War.” I mean, we spent a much higher percentage of our GDP on WWII, so who cares how much Iraq cost? It took a lower percentage of the economy than WWII, so it hardly even counts! That Bush sure was a cheapskate.

      1. Your tepid defense of the $1.7 trillion Iraq War is embarrassing for you.

        1. Using Bush as an excuse to bomb Syria? You’re a parody of yourself. Seriously.

          1. All Proglodytes are war mongers and they all deflect blame for everything onto someone else.

            So ButtPigs behavior shouldn’t be surprising at all. He learned it from his master.

        2. I’m not in favor of Iraq. I’m mocking the fact that you think Bush’s incompetence excuse Obama’s incompetence.

          1. Bush spent $1.7 trillion we don’t have. Obama about 1/5000 that.

            Real libertarians care about massive government waste.

            1. Agreed.

              Palin’s Buttplug| 9.2.13 @ 5:57PM |#

              If everyone agreed with me I would quit posting.

            2. What branch allocates spending?

              1. The Bush GOP ran all branches until 2007.

                1. Then Pelosi / Reid defunded the wars, right?

                  p.s. what was the price of gas and unemployment rate in 2007?

            3. PB is a great example of that quote from Einstein where he said genius has limits but stupidity is boundless.

        3. Little does shrieky realize that he is validating Iraq with his argument by linking it to Libya. That if Iraq was a valid war, then Libya must be as well.

          Well done, shriek. Dubya is pleased with your work.

    3. It’s besteser than that shreeky…….your lord and savior Sugar Coated Barry O has managed to put the whole deal on a paying basis by contracting the U.S. Military out to the Saudi Arabians.

      ….and people say Obama doesn’t understanding the economy! But you shreeky…you never lost faith and stood by your man! Well done!


    4. Totally agree.

      Palin’s Buttplug| 9.2.13 @ 5:57PM |#

      If everyone agreed with me I would quit posting.

      1. Yeah, things would be so much better if reality didn’t have a liberal bias.

        1. Couldn’t agree more.

          Palin’s Buttplug| 9.2.13 @ 5:57PM |#

          If everyone agreed with me I would quit posting.

    5. So Obama can bomb every country on the map and still spend less than Bush, provided the bombing is “just muscular enough”?

  12. If nothing else you have to admire the cheapskate Obama.

    And what benefit did we derive, exactly? What benefit will we derive from this little excursion to Syria, other than letting Obama polish his peace prize, and puff his little pigeon chest?

    1. Well, the Libyan intervention gave us higher gas prices, a dead ambassador and plunged Libya into an anarchic chaos in which would be strong men gun down civilians for protesting outside of militia headquarters.

      Truly a wonderful intervention that was.

      1. Looking at a five year chart of oil it is hard to see where the Libyan conflict was.…..undefined;

        Prices are flat after a big dive lower five years ago.


          Prices would have fallen and have not done so because of a decline in production in the Middle East. Unless you think the laws of supply and demand are merely suggestions that Obama’s magic wand can do away with, there’s no way that a massive decline in Libyan production wouldn’t result in higher prices than we’d otherwise have.

          Here’s a source big guy.

          Libya produced 1.5 m to 1,6m barrels per day until Al-Gadhafi was ousted; now production is below 100.000 bpd which is less than a tenth capacity. Libyan economy depends significantly on oil production, with oil accounting for more than 95 percent of export and 80 percent of its GNP. Government runs on oil reserves thus the civil servants may not get their salaries by the end of this year.

          Explain an economic theory that would account for a major oil producing nation’s total collapse having no impact on oil prices. I’ll wait for you to explain how a drop from 1.5 million to 100,000 per day doesn’t result in higher prices than we’d otherwise have.

          1. I fully support Obama’s energy policies that have resulted in massive increases in production (as you eloquently note).

            1. I am in full agreement, here.

              Palin’s Buttplug| 9.2.13 @ 5:57PM |#

              If everyone agreed with me I would quit posting.

            2. Increased production has occurred on land not owned by the Feds because the federal government is opposed to it.

              U.S. oil and gas drilling moving to private land where shale is found.

              A center analysis found that 89 percent of the shale formations in the West that hold either oil or a mixture of oil and gas are on private land.

              Unless all of that private land is owned by Barack Obama, I don’t think this was his doing.

              1. Unless all of that private land is owned by Barack Obama, I don’t think this was his doing.

                Don’t give the lapdog any ideas.

            3. Yeah, Shrieky, and Al Gore invented the internet. You really are parodying yourself.

            4. I thought libs wanted less oil production, not more?

    2. If we let Assad get away with using chemical weapons, then everyone will!

      I mean everyone! Even Obama!

  13. THIS JUST IN………House of Saud….offers to kick it old school by paying for whole affair!


    1. Let’s ask Snow Miser this question.

      Why would the Saudis want a regime change so much that they would be willing to foot the fill for a US invasion of Syria?

      1. I simply can’t imagine why the Sauds would want to employ a gullible nation to do their dirty work against the proxy of their rivals?

        1. I don’t think it has anything to do with gullible. I think the Saudis are waving money and oil in front of politicians noses, and their natural reaction to that, can only be expected.

          So now, the US is in the business of renting out our military to dictatorships who want to change regimes in other countries?

          Wonderful stuff. I hope this is the final straw and that the public simply does not stand for this shit.

          Maybe the people in Syria who said that those chemical weapons came from Saudi Arabia, were right.

          1. I don’t think it has anything to do with gullible.

            It has everything to do with gullible if we fall for it again.

      2. foot the fill bill


      3. The Saudis want a Sunni regime in Syria. They want us to do their dirty work.

  14. House of Saud….offers to kick it old school by paying for whole affair!

    Fine. They can put a “help wanted” ad in the back of Soldier of Fortune. Hell, they can put a full page four color ad in; they’ve got the money.

    1. Why do that when you can get the entire US military!

      1. And not pay them!

    2. I hear Obama, McCain and Kerry want to volunteer. Heck, McCain and Kerry are even experienced soldiers.

  15. Obama’s energy policies that have resulted in massive increases in production

    Like trying to shut down production in the Gulf?

    1. Never happened.

      He temporarily delayed only DEEP WATER new permits until they followed blowout prevention rules. 99% of GoM oil production went on as usual.

      1. 100% agreed.

        Palin’s Buttplug| 9.2.13 @ 5:57PM |#

        If everyone agreed with me I would quit posting.

  16. John Stewart says all this stuff.…

  17. So the Saudis are going to pick up the tab. I suppose that he calls the tune, pays the piper.

    What is the Saudi national anthem? Onwards Christian Soldiers.

  18. When it comes to killing people, money is no object for the US government.

  19. Money should not be an object if you are fighting a war that is existential in nature. WWII was such a war and we paid for it. If a war is less than that you damn well better calculate in costs- AFTER you have determined that the war is for valid national security reasons and determined your ways-means and ends. If Syria occurs it will be for no valid national security reasons (preventing POTUS embarrassment is not valid) and there is no discussion of the ways-means and ends. Even more frightening is that there is no discussion that the enemy gets a vote on the next steps and since removing Assad from power is off the table I don’t think he and Iran will just shrug their shoulders and go “meh.” This entire administration strikes me that they learned strategy from the game Stratego (after they removed the bomb pieces from their opponent). Hell I would be relieved somebody in the administration played “Axis and Allies” on a regular basis. And that is a scary admission on my part.

  20. I listened to a small part of the testimony today and in a 3 minute piece I heard more lies than I can count- including the whopper of “it’ll cost on the 10’s of millions of dollars.” Let’s examine that for a few moments. We’ll set the entire cost of the naval vessels and aircraft at zero since part of their cost is sunk by general operating and payroll costs and I don’t want to do the math now. We’ll assume that since we have no troops on the ground or in the air the most modern(and expensive) blocks of Tomahawk missiles won’t be used and we’ll clear the inventories of older block II missiles at $1.5M a copy (assuming no maintenance, transportation etc costs as well). Even with bare bone inaccurate accounting we can fire only 66 Tomahawks to come in at $99M. As a comparison during the first day of the Libyan “it’s not a war” we fired 210 cruise missiles at $315M and we can see how well that worked against Q who was more isolated than Assad is.

  21. Stop these mass murderers ! They all need to be sentenced to death by the war criminals court !

    They ordered this gas massacre on hundreds of children to get their war justified. Even Bush did lie better than those war criminals.

    Syrians again are turned into refugees with this bombing threat ! And millions Syrians, especially children will die as after Iraq bombing.

    The REGULARLY do bomb civil infrastructure, like power plant, gas &water; supply, and sewage plants, telecommunication. railways anything that hurts and disables a country – as done in Libya (96 percent of water supply in a desert country!)

    Read what the so-called “collateral damage” in Yugoslav bombing really was – Spanish NATO fighter jet pilots did speak what really happened:…..ilots.html

    Check to get the news they did hide in order to fool you.

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