If America Isn’t Fighting ISIL Alone, What Are Other Nations Doing?
President Barack Obama has emphasized time and time again that the United States will not be fighting a land war in Iraq or Syria, and that the efforts America makes, it does not make alone. If anything of late can be described as his catch phrase, it’s “This is not America’s fight alone” — that is, this won’t be an extreme drain on America’s economy in isolation.
This rhetoric was repeated during a meeting of international military leaders near Washington, D.C., at Joint Base Andrews. In attendance were more than 20 foreign chiefs of defense to discuss the joint effort against ISIL, the extremist group behind violence in Syria and Iraq, and the recent publicized execution of journalists. The White House reports that Obama stressed the U.S.’s plan to go after ISIL in both Iraq and Syria to prevent militants from retreating and gathering strength for future attacks. American military strategy has been focused on long-term action, with particular emphasis by Obama placed on the fact that boots would not be put on the ground and that airstrikes would be the main source of might.
Americans, however, may not be reacting the way he expected. Obama’s continued emphasis on the United States’ cautious approach is likely to stave off economic and political panic, especially considering the importance economic concerns at home have taken in recent years. There’s been an understandable level of trepidation, considering the toll former President George W. Bush’s time in Iraq took on the U.S. economy.
However, a recent poll of 1,000 registered voters — with a margin of error at plus or minus 3.1 percent — conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC suggests that more people actually prefer combat troops be included with air strikes, rather than having military action limited to air strikes alone. Thirty-five percent were in favor of solely air strikes, while 41% said combat troops should be included; 15% said the U.S. should not be taking military action. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at military costs to the U.S. so far and what other nations are putting on the table in the fight against the Islamic State.
USA Today published an information graphic based on data from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and the Center for Public Integrity. The infographic gives a daily cost analysis for U.S. expenditure on the war against ISIL on average, and then compares it to previous military ventures in the Middle East (see below).
Comparatively, $7 million to $10 million is considerably less than the $212 million per-day cost of Operation Enduring Freedom and the $100 million price tag on Operation Odyssey Dawn. Yes, it’s still a significant cost to the U.S., but it’s more a concern if this number grows or results in other indirect costs on the United States and its economic health.
Reuters reports that the cost of flying U.S. warplanes for an hour ranges between $22,000 and $30,000, and that the bombs they’re dropping cost about $20,000 each. So far, this equals a rough cost estimate of $800 million, according to math done by The Motley Fool, but it’s likely that cost won’t be the main concern for some time.
“Pentagon officials have said that the first four months of renewed operations in Iraq will not require additional money from Congress,” reports The Army Times, and given the budget set aside for overseas operations, as well as the as-yet comparatively low costs, the main concern will likely be international investment of will and manpower alongside monetary investment.
The White House reports that around 60 partners and nations have joined the fight against ISIL, with nine countries and five Arab partners in Syria flying sorties (military aircraft), while others supply arms to the Iraqi security forces and Syrian rebels. Other allies are “providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid.”
In September the British Parliament passed a motion that allowed for its own set of airstrikes. The vote passed with a resounding 524-43 split. “It is also our duty to take part,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron, according to CNN. “Protecting the streets of Britain is not a task that we are prepared to entirely subcontract to other air forces of other countries.”
France’s government made a similar decision, launching its first airstrike in September. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “The French were our very first ally and they are there again for us … it just reminds me why these relationships really matter,” Fox reports.
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