In the new article, “The Real Cost of U.S. in Libya? Two Billion Dollars Per Day,” Loren Thompson at Forbes now reports that the real cost of Obama’s war in Libya is $2 billion per day!
The one thing most experts seem to agree on about the current coalition air campaign in Libya is that it won’t cost much. A leading think tank estimated the price-tag for patrolling Libyan air space at $30-100 million per week, while the Navy’s top budget official described Libyan air operations as falling within the “normal operating cycle” of his department. Rear Admiral Joseph Mulloy told trade publication Inside the Navy on March 21, “The incremental cost of use of the Navy and Marine Corps is low, because we’re already funded and we are trained and worked up.” He went on, “We don’t have to pay extra to be there.” As a result of such fiscal reassurances, Congress has focused mainly on the goals of the operation and what precedents military action might create, rather than the cost.
However, at a time when the federal government is borrowing about $4 billion per day from lenders like China, it might be worthwhile to focus some thought on what Admiral Mulloy was really saying. He didn’t say Libya was cheap, he said most of the bill had already been paid. And therein lies the crux of a fiscal dilemma that politicians and policymakers will face as they struggle to reduce the biggest budget deficit in the history of the world. Can America continue to sustain the kind of global military posture that enables it to simultaneously execute a no-fly zone in Libya, a counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan, disaster relief in Japan, and a host of other operations from the Balkans to the Persian Gulf to the Horn of Africa? While its European allies seem hard-pressed to cope with a modest military challenge on their own doorstep, America has embraced a global role that requires its forces to be pretty much everywhere there is a threat of instability. So what looks like an inexpensive military operation in Libya is actually costing taxpayers about $2 billion per day, because that’s what the Pentagon and other security agencies of the federal government spend to maintain a posture that allows the military to go anywhere and do anything on short notice. . . .