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November 01, 2006

Plunder Iran

Reuters reports that the USAF is asking for a jaw-dropping $50 billion in emergency funds for 2007. That's in addition to its regular budget of about $100 billion. Excerpts:

The U.S. Air Force is asking the Pentagon's leadership for a staggering $50 billion in emergency funding for fiscal 2007 — an amount equal to nearly half its annual budget, defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute said on Tuesday.

The request is expected to draw criticism on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are increasingly worried about the huge sums being sought "off budget" to fund wars, escaping the more rigorous congressional oversight of regular budgets.

Another source familiar with the Air Force plans said the extra funds would help pay to transport growing numbers of U.S. soldiers being killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. [$50 billion for that — what are we here, suckers?] [...]

"This amount of money is so much bigger than the Air Force would normally request ... it hints at a basic breakdown in the process for planning and funding war costs," said Thompson. [...]

The Air Force's proposed emergency budget is nearly half the $105.9 billion it requested as its total base budget for fiscal year 2007, which began on October 1.

The Air Force said it asked Pentagon officials for $17.4 billion in emergency war funds in August, but was now submitting "additional requirements to cover costs for the longer war against terror," based on England's memo. [...]

She said the service had already mapped out an expected supplemental funding request of $50 billion for fiscal 2008. [Emphasis added]

There are several ways of looking at this, none of them good. Maybe the whole system has broken down and devolved into simple naked plundering of the national treasury. But given that the brunt of the Iraq fighting and costs are being borne by the Army and Marines, we have to ask what leads the Air Force to conclude that expenditures on this scale will be necessary and justified. More to the point, what makes them think they have a prayer of selling this to Congress? The only answer seems to be: Iran. An attack on Iran presumably will start out, at least, as a massive air war. So, the USAF knows an attack on Iran is in the cards. Or — as John Robb suggests — they want the money and they'll use Iran to get it.

As usual, there is a confluence of interest groups who stand to gain from an Iran attack. It's never just one thing, one reason, one interest group. It's bad news indeed that there are powerful players (not just the Pentagon, but all the military-aerospace giants who will get the contracts) who stand to make this kind of money. That creates a nearly unstoppable constituency. It may be that some people who advocate war and stand to profit from it consciously tell themselves a hundred other reasons why war is desirable and necessary. But if humans are good at anything, they're good at rationalizing their own self-interest. And when you're talking about tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, that's an awful lot of self-interest.

Posted by Jonathan at November 1, 2006 06:39 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


That's an interesting way of looking at it -- prepping for Iran, I mean. Rarely does any government agency's budget "surprise" lawmakers; it develops over the course of months of quiet discussion with the executive and legislative branches. You never go forward unless you have some hope of success -- and doing forward planning for Iran while assigning the blame elsewhere makes a lot of sense in this case.

Posted by: PeakEngineer at November 1, 2006 09:28 PM

It is illogical that it would cost $27,514,833 to deliver $82,100 in LPG fuel," officials from the Defense Contract Audit Agency noted in the report.

Iraq Reconstruction Halliburton Overcharges
in Excess of $100 Billionhttp://www.yuricareport.com/Corruption/PrintableHalliburtonOvercharges.html

So it looks like there is plenty of funds to play 'loot the treasury' with. The 'need money for Iran' makes sense.

Posted by: at November 2, 2006 07:52 AM

Its the old "merchants of death" story repeated again and again - its amazing how little things change over time...

Posted by: Big Gav at November 2, 2006 03:24 PM