The Shocking Price Tag Of American Intervention in Syria


There are a countless number of opinions and polls out there about the possible U.S. military intervention in Syria; and, for good reason. War, or rather the possibility of war, is not something to be taken lightly. As former President George W. Bush said in an interview two weeks ago, "[P]utting the military in harm's way is the most important decision a President will ever make." While President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry meagerly fumble with rhetoric about "red lines" and "boots on the ground," the American people are answering with a litany of reasons not to become militarily involved in the Syrian conflict.

Earlier this week, Gallup released a poll that outlined the most common reasons for opposing to U.S. military action in Syria. Out of the 51% that are in opposition to a military strike, the belief that the Syrian civil war is not the concern of the American government garnered the largest share of respondents at 24%. The argument that the United States does not need to become involved in another war followed second with 19%. Tied for third at 10% were concerns about the effectiveness and the costs of intervention.

What may come as a surprise to many of you is that our tax dollars are already going towards this conflict, even though no strike has yet been authorized. According to Navy Admiral Jonathan Greenert, these ships would already be in the area regardless. But, the point is that the money spent on their operations is now going to directing those ships towards Syria. The Navy has already deployed four destroyers, the U.S.S. Nimitz aircraft carrier with her strike group of three destroyers, and the U.S.S. San Antonio amphibious transport ship. These ships are also likely carrying hundreds of Tomahawk missiles among them.

So what's the price tag? Each destroyer costs an average of $7 million per week to operate; the carrier and her strike group cost $25 million per week under normal conditions, $40 million when engaged in special aerial combat. Each Tomahawk missile costs a hefty $1.5 million dollars. According to the Pentagon, over 100 Tomahawk missiles were fired on the first day alone of the Libyan air strike, amounting to over $100 million dollars. When you multiply it all out (3 destroyers + strike group + 100 Tomahawks), it comes to a grand total of $161 million for just one week. When these numbers add up, it makes Secretary Hagel's cost estimate of "tens of millions of dollars" almost laughable.

Admiral Greenert said last week that the costs of intervention would not be "extraordinary." In the grand scheme of things he's right, what's the couple billion here or there that it would take to make the president's strike plan happen compared to the trillions that have been spent thus far in Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. But the simple fact of the matter is that costly wars and interventions should not be the "ordinary." They should only come about when there is a vital U.S. national interest at stake. In the case of Syria, there is none. If you recall, this administration made the same mistake in Libya and, some would argue, resulted in the tragedy at Benghazi. The American people are tired of footing the bill for needless U.S. interventions that ultimately cost the lives of the brave men and women who fight to defend this great nation.