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Obama's 'impeachable' act: Unaffordable Libya war

Last updated on: March 30, 2011 08:32 IST

Whopping Libyan war expenditure frustrates US



More than a week after coalition forces led by United States launched a military operation in crisis-struck Libya, the cost to US taxpayers has already reached a whopping $600 million (about Rs 2,700 crore), as per Pentagon estimates, ABC reported.

US ships and submarines in the Mediterranean have launched at least 191 Tomahawk cruise missiles from their arsenals, costing $268.8 million (about Rs 1,209 crore), the Pentagon said.

US warplanes have dropped 455 precision guided bombs, costing tens of thousands of dollars each. A downed Air Force F-15E fighter jet will cost more than $60 million (about Rs 270 crore) to replace.

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Image: Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn in the Mediterranean Sea
Photographs: Handout/Reuters

'President is plunging US into yet another war we cannot afford'

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And the operation of ships and aircraft, guzzling ever-more-expensive fuel to maintain their positions off the Libyan coast and in the skies above, could reach millions of dollars a week, experts say, the report stated.

While many Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have questioned President Barack Obama's constitutional authority to engage in Libya without their consent, some are voicing concern about the effect on the skyrocketing federal deficit, the report noted.

"We have already spent trillions of dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which descended into unwinnable quagmires," Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio wrote in a letter to colleagues last week.

"Now, the President is plunging the United States into yet another war we cannot afford," he wrote.

Image: US President Barack Obama speaks about US military action in Libya on Monday in Washington, DC
Photographs: Dennis Brack/Getty Images
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Weekly cost of Libyan no-fly zone: $30 mn to $100 mn!

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So far the Pentagon has financed the mission to take out Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi's air defenses and disrupt his attacks on opposition forces using money in its existing budget, which has room for unanticipated military actions.

The White House has not been forced to ask Congress for additional funds for the campaign.

Service member salaries, fuel costs and equipment maintenance are all part of annual military operating budgets. And hundreds of munitions, including the $1.4 million (about Rs 6.3 crore) cruise missiles, are acquired each year and routinely used in action and training, officials told ABC.

The cost of operating the no-fly zone over Libya alone could cost the US an estimated $30 million (about Rs 135 crore) to $100 million (about Rs 450 crore) a week, a study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments found.

Image: In this handout image, 492nd FS commander, prepare to taxi their F-15E Strike Eagle prior to their departure from RAF Lakenheath in preparation for Operation Odyssey Dawn missions
Photographs: Handout/Getty Images
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'Cut off funding for Libya war'

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The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have together cost more than $1.2 trillion (about Rs 5,400,000 crore) so far, excluding troops' pay, medical costs and interest payments on debt incurred, according to the National Priorities Project, a non-profit budgetary research group, the report said.

More than 5,800 American military service members have been killed in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom since 2001.

Kucinich wants the House to vote to cut off funding for the Obama administration's military action in Libya, which he has suggested could be an 'impeachable offence'.


Image: A arine salutes the olours at the start of the 2d Marine Memorial Service for troops who were killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom in April, 2006 in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Photographs: Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images
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Is the US' military intervention unwise?

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Meanwhile, vigorously defending American military intervention in Libya, President Obama on Monday said failure to act would have carried a far "greater price" for the US and also led to a "slaughter" of civilians in the north African nation.

Noting that the US has an important "strategic interest" in preventing Libyan strongman Gaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him, Obama also declared," we have stopped Gaddafi's deadly advance."

At the same time, Obama in his first address to the nation since launching cruise missiles and airstrikes 10 days ago ruled out targeting Gaddafi citing the Iraqi experience, warning that trying to oust him militarily would be a costly mistake.

But Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said regardless of the President's intentions, the costs to taxpayers -- and potentially in American lives -- coupled with an uncertain outcome make the military intervention unwise, the report stated.


Image: Rebel fighters gesture in front of burning vehicles belonging to Gaddafi's forces after an air strike by coalition forces along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah in Libya
Photographs: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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