The game’s not worth the Tomahawk

The US has calculated the cost of the military operation against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi which started on March 19. So far, it has already cost the US taxpayers about 550 million dollars. Most of the cost comes from the Tomahawk launches. There have been 192 launches by US alone, each costing about $1.5 million.

Also, the US Air Force has flown 983 sorties - 370 of them being air missions against military sites and forces and the rest for surveillance, refueling and so on. All in all, about 60 percent of the spending was on munitions.

The rest was due to “higher operating tempo” of U.S. forces and of getting them there, said Commander Kathleen Kesler, a Pentagon spokeswoman. The overall figure does not include certain expenditures which would have been spent in any case – such as relocating US soldiers and marines abroad, salaries to the military personnel, etc.

As predicted, the cost of the operation will steadily grow at a pace of about $40 million per week. And that regards only the US troops.

The peculiarity of the situation is that the US has been trying to keep as low a profile in the whole operation as possible, trying to present it as a purely European (mainly, French and British) initiative.

But the bare language of figures shows that the whole case is “politics as usual”. Other participants of the coalition have not yet officially calculated how much it has and is likely to cost them. But as for the British, it has been estimated that until now the operation has cost British taxpayers about £25 million (which makes it more than ten times less than the overall US expenditures). There have been seven Tomahawk launches, and British planes have flown 120 missions.

The figures for the French forces have not yet been made public, but one may expect that they would hardly exceed the British.

The whole story makes any unbiased observer look closer at the issue of “qui prodest” (“who benefits”).

From the very beginning of Libyan unrest, it has been the West’s intention to picture the whole situation as bearing completely regional (more precisely, Mediterranean) significance. Unrest in Libya had a direct impact on its northern neighbors, most notably Italy and France, being the primary buyers of Libyan oil. More so, for Barack Obama, the whole case was an opportunity to demonstrate that he as a national leader is completely different from his predecessor, George W. Bush-junior. Now that the two wars launched by George W, have not come to an end and the very possibility of ending them in any favorable manner for the USA seems to be vaguer and vaguer day by day, it would be a grave mistake for Barack Obama to get involved in a third war. Hence, all his statements of a “limited involvement” and his attempts to keep a low profile and present the whole operation as having nothing in common with wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.

Well, this might be the US administration’s intention. But we all know too well what road is paved with good intentions. And a bare figure is not something you can easily disregard.

The cost of the war shows openly and starkly in numbers. Those numbers do not directly reflect other costs – like human lives or future repercussions for regional cooperation in the Southern Mediterranean. But they clearly show, who the chief player in this gross geopolitical game is. No matter how the US is trying to keep the low profile, its leading role is demonstrated by pure figures: 550 million dollars so far and an additional 40 million every consecutive week.

[Source: By Volkhonsky Boris, The Voice of Russia, Moscow, 30Mar11]

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Libya War
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