Saturday Feb 26, 201103:18 PM GMT
Gates warns of any future wars like Iraq, Afghanistan
Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:19PM
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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets on Friday that it would be unwise for the United States to ever fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that the chances of carrying out a change of regime in that fashion again are slim.

 

"In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General MacArthur so delicately put it," Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets. Huffington Post

 

HIGHLIGHTS

"The odds of repeating another Afghanistan or Iraq -- invading, pacifying and administering a large third-world country -- may be low," Gates said.

 

He did not directly criticize the Bush administration's decisions to go to war. Even so, his never-again formulation was unusually pointed, especially at a time of upheaval across the Arab world and beyond.

 

He said Iraq and Afghanistan had become known as “the captains' wars” because “officers of lower and lower rank were put in the position of making decisions of higher and higher degrees of consequence and complexity.”

 

Gates has said that he would leave office this year, and the speech at West Point could be heard as his farewell to the Army. NYT

 

FACTS & FIGURES

According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, U.S. defense spending grew 9% annually on average from fiscal year 2000-2009.

 

By the end of 2008, the U.S. had spent approximately $900 billion in direct costs on Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Some experts estimate indirect costs such as interest on the additional debt will exceed the direct costs. Red Ice Creation

 

However, prominent economics professor Joseph E. Stiglitz says the true cost of the Iraq war is beyond $3 trillion. Washington Post

 

The Afghanistan war was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council and many experts call it illegal under international law.

 

The Afghan war is costing the U.S. taxpayer $10 billion a month and is tying up more than 100,000 American soldiers.

 

Since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, more than 34,000 Afghan civilians have been killed in the country as a result of the war.

 

Roughly 48,000 American troops are still based in Iraq seven years after the start of the war, according to the Washington Post.

 

Since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, 4439 U.S. troops have been killed according to the iCasualties.

 

Since 2003, more than 1,300,000 Iraqi civilians are estimated to have been killed.

 

HJ/KA/DB

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