Today's Situation Room:

Wolf Blitzer delivers the most important breaking news and political, international, and national security stories of the day. Tune to The Situation Room weekdays 5-7pm ET on CNN.

Wolf Blitzer delivers the most important breaking news and political, international, and national security stories of the day. Tune to The Situation Room weekdays 5-7pm ET on CNN.

BLITZER’S BLOG: How much more blood and treasure?
August 11th, 2011
01:57 PM ET

BLITZER’S BLOG: How much more blood and treasure?

By CNN's Wolf Blitzer

(CNN) - Five more American troops were killed in Afghanistan. They died from an improvised explosive device. This comes after 30 Americans were killed last weekend in a Chinook helicopter shot down by the Taliban.

It’s appropriate to put the numbers into context.

The cost in blood and treasure for the United States has been enormous.

So far this year, 284 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan. Since the war started nearly 10 years ago, 1,721 Americans have died there.

More have been killed in Iraq. Since the war started there in March 2003, 4,477 have died.

Many thousands more have been seriously injured, including loss of limbs, serious burns, traumatic brain injury and post traumatic shock.

Maintaining the approximately 100,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan costs U.S. taxpayers about $2 billion a week – or more than $100 billion a year. The United States has started a modest drawdown of troops this year, but President Obama says America will retain a robust presence of tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan at least until the end of 2014.

That again means the toll in blood and treasure will continue. Let’s not be under any illusions.

Some 45,000 U.S. troops are still in Iraq right now, but they are supposed to be withdrawn by the end of the year. Still, some will probably remain as part of a U.S.-Iraqi agreement that is being negotiated. There is still no agreement and no word on exactly how many Americans will stay.

With Osama bin Laden dead, people will question whether continuing these wars is worth more blood and treasure.

RELATED STORY: Pentagon releases names of Chinook crash victims

Post by:
Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Beverly Jones

    Outsourcing has been good to some point but it caused the very rich to search for other countries to make businesses for their own profit and not good for the profit here in the United States. It is making jobs but not jobs here in the USA. So, you see very little growth that does not benefit our part but making it more or less dormant thus becoming stale and not a thriving economy.

    August 16, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  2. Ed

    Wolfe, did OB fall under 40% today???? This is an important develpment, but I only listen to CNN and expect that you update the American public on such significant issues when they occur.

    August 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  3. Clark Hurlbert

    Michele Bachmann on Face the Nation today stated she was a tax attorney and yet she did not know the corporate tax rate.

    She said the tax rate is 34%. It is 35%.

    August 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  4. Robert

    DO NOT let the Pentagon and White House forget the loss of our troops especially the tragic and very avoidable loss of 30-young talented precious cargo people on that CH-47. The command center that ordered this operation sent these people to their death. Relieve them for cause NOW! Precious cargo, American Assets, an aircraft carrier, a SEAL TEAM, a President, the Chairman of JCS would be treated and protected BETTER than occurred with this operation. Bring our troops home now. If I had been in charge we would have turned that valley into a "parking lot" within 48-hours....we have enough iron bombs left over from Vietnam, Korea, and WWII to have done just that. Don't allow the investigation to be pushed into the back of all our minds by economy, unemployment or some stupid Iowa poll junk...
    that only is in anticipation of an election TWO YEARS away! This is NOW! OUR PEOPLE ARE BEING KILLED!

    August 13, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  5. Bob

    I thought there was suppose to be seperation of state and religion.

    August 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Beverly Jones

      Yes there is but did you ever see one single event remain by itself, and yet these two factors religion and polititcs must take a hollistic approach. You cannot have one without the other. They do go hand in hand.

      August 16, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  6. Rich

    Wolf it is impossible to put a value on human life. Try asking a mother how much her sons life was worth after he was killed in Afghanistan. America and others have paid the price and they continue to pay the price. Whether or not it was worth the blood and the expense remains to be seen.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  7. Manual Labor

    The ONLY treasure being had , are LOBBY dollars to BOTH parties. These wars are THE reason we are in debt, and the "meter" is still running, on interest, with downgraded credit ratings. The FOOLS of BOTH parties are addicted to those war lobby dollars, and that addiction is breaking and destroying America, in short , NO MORE American blood should be spilled to pad the pockets of political criminals. It is way past time to bring ALL of our troops home and quit buying the lobby propaganda , that those conflicts are defending America OR fighting for our freedom, because they are NOT, they are merely for personal and party profit.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  8. james a kuvakos

    I think that we are forgetting something.The whole reason we went into Afghanistan was to eliminate the threat of the al quaida, to set the country back whole, as it were, for the afghan people. To fight the right fight. That is what I thought we were supposed to be doing. But,somehow, we allowed ourselves to be brought into a conflict in Iraq, riding on the 9-11 hype of many questionable people, lulled into thinking that this was the right direction. Well, 10yrs later, we find ourselves in a place that al quaida had hoped for. Our country has been economically crippled, all a product of our shortcomings. Think about it. After 9-11 we have spent a trillion if not many trillions of dollars on this "fight'. We have allowed ourselves to focus on that issue, rather than watchdogging those in our country stealing from their own people. Wall street, Morgage Brokers, Bankers: the list goes on. In the end what have we truly gained? A stronger sence of security. A country that has improved its ability to track and prepare for bad things that may happen again-along with our friendly nation neighbors. But now I think that it is time for us to think about another big threat. If we don't get ahold of our economic and political impasses, and we don't start to put our country on the right path first and we don't stop and look hard at the return we are getting from in our continued involvement in these " world enterprises",then isn't al quaida really winning. Remember, that was one of the main objectives of al quaida–cripple us where it hurts the most :our pockets.
    . So yes. We need to fix our own house, than maybe we can consider whether or not, how much, and who will really be a part of fixing someone elses house.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  9. HeyWolf

    The people of this world have been at this game since the dawn of time and will never stop killing each other until they can find an exo-race to kill, then they may work together to kill them. Sadly there's nothing we can do about mans inhumanity to man and other living things, as long as we think we are not connected we will kill anything, and the rub is; nature is happy with this, as it uses us to fertilize the planet, enrich the soil and feed the roots.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  10. Bryan Short

    Wolf, I'm not your biggest fan in your role as a lead news anchor at CNN... where there is very little room for your personality to come through. But pieces like this are refreshing. I hope you can do more critical news reporting where you really dig in and ask the tough questions and inform Americans of your findings. The politicians have plenty of people to give them a chance to recite their talking points. But if you can catch a politician off guard and have him fumbling for an answer... it's not "gotcha" journalism.. it's "good" journalism.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  11. peakarach

    Just bring 75% of all troops from over sea and using that money to build up america economy.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  12. KBNJ

    We should have gone in after 911, taken out as much of the Taliban as we could within one year and gotten out. If we had to go back, fine, it still would have been far cheaper in lives and money. Get out NOW! Same with Iraq.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  13. Chief P

    I just returned from 13 months in Afghanistan. Truthfully, no amount of American/ISAF money and KIAs/WIAs are going to turn that part of the world around. I believe it's time to judiciously and wisely hand over the mess to the Afghans (since they don't appreciate us anyways). But we need to go out with a message. B52s should do the trick. They won't want us to turn around and have to come back to deradiate them.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  14. Jeff

    There are Bentlys, Mercedes, and Rolls Royces all sitting at luxury hotels and privatly owned lands by millionaires in Afganistan. Why? Because men in 20,000 dollar suits are waiting for the grunts, our soilders, to clear the way so they can attempt to buy mineral rights in Afganistan with US dollars. But the Afgan people just won't budge. As you seen the Chineese are lowering the exports of minerals to the USA. Why? To make alot of money before these people get the rights to mine on tribal lands. The Chineese know how long this will take. And better than any Wolf Blitzer knows how long it will take.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  15. Gus

    Exactly how many more of our troops need to die in these dumpy countries and how much more of our tax dollars will need to be spent there to satisfy the washington suits? Hey, I have the answer – NONE! Lets get out of all these third world countries, quit wasting our troops lives and quit wasting our tax dollars there. It is totally ridiculous!

    August 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Gus

      These so called wars are nothing more than Vietnam all over again. Amazing lessons are never learned and history has to keep repeating itself!

      August 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  16. George W Obama

    How much blood and treasure? As long as it is your children's blood and your treasure there is no limit. The Department of Defense is like a front company for the Mob. Just a way to launder the taxpayers' money and send it back to the Dons.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  17. David

    Let's not forget that troops are not only in Iraq but they are still dying in Iraq. You don't hear about the deaths in Iraq anywhere in the mainstream media because that would embarrass President Obama who declared the end of combat operations in Iraq. All of this at a time when the government wants to take away benefits from our brave servicemembers.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  18. okietaxpayer

    Bring the men and women home. Bring them home now, not some time in the future.

    Afghanistan is corrupt to the core. We are not wanted there by the locals.

    If Congress and the President were sending over their family members my bet is this war would be over quickly. Bring em home now.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  19. socal

    When will the US get the hel! out of Afghanistan and Iraq. We need to stop wasting American lifes and taxpayer money on these countries, including Pakistan. They HATE America, leave them to kill each other, they won't be missed.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  20. liz meriwether

    As long as the money & oil flows, so will the blood.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  21. Tracy

    Bring them home. Quit overseas spending. Our money belongs the way, last I heard we have a deficit and a big one!

    August 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  22. Steve

    $2 Billion a week? Chump-change – we can spend that with our eyes closed – or borrow it anyways – lol

    August 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  23. rodeodad

    I don't know much about wartime strategy but I support Obama's selection of General Patreus as the commander of the Afghan war. I'm pretty sure he knows a bunch more about it than some sniveling liberal columnist so when he and B.O. say it's time than it is time.

    Hey Wolf ur a reporter right? Go ask the good General what he thinks and let us all know. Til then keep your cynical whining opinions to yourself.....

    August 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  24. Leafonthewind

    No one in the "corridors of power" seems able to articulate a reasonable explanation for continuing in Afghanistan. To keep the Taliban out of power? Why is that our job? So that they won't continue to train terrorists? They'll do that anywhere anytime anyway, no matter what we do to them in Afghanistan. So what's the point? We went over there in the first place to hunt Bin Laden, and he was likely in Pakistan all along. The Afghani people may be better off without the Taliban ruling them, but shouldn't they take care of that themselves?

    @noldtimer, I like your bug analogy.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  25. WobblyOne

    In the midst of a financial crisis with massive national debt there is no more reason to waste another life or another penny. Bring all the troops home now. If the region erupts into civil war, so be it. There isn't an Iraqi, Afghani or Pakistani who is worth the least bit of help–they hate us and always will. We can not force a democracy down their throats. If they wish to abandon their stone-age social mentality and become responsible members of the world's nations, then fine. But they need to do it on their own without our blood and treasure.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  26. Bob Sweeney

    The enemy is in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. If we want to take it to the enemy, it is Pakistan that must and should suffer our wrath. They have ports, roads and airports that depend immensely on outside products and services. If they do not choose to confront the evil spawn that they themselves created in Waziristan and elsewhere, then we should do so and let Pakistan suffer the consequences. Afghanistan? What for? How long? How much?

    August 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  27. Jeff

    How about we immediately bring all the troops home and save the almost 2 billion per week. Perhaps we could use it to pay down the deficit?

    August 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  28. CBR

    War should not be the way to solve problems and I think we all know that in our hearts. In our minds we still view the 9/11 pictures, the photos of people in Afghanistan and Iraq who are suffering, and most importantly the fact we started a way which we did not conclude. Instead, war was declared on Iraq and Afghanistan did not have the combined military force to sustain the gains made.

    Those in charge did not hear our questions, did not want to hear our questions, and worked in a vacuum. The billions of dollars spent by government officials to give contracts that did not go through the bid process. There were no checks and balances. We cannot leave the Afghan people along and vulnerable. War is a waste of everyone's time and money but our government decided to fight leaving all of us "between a rock and a hard place."

    August 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  29. huxley

    No WMDs. No chemical weapons. No Al-Queda connection. We executed Saddam Hussein 5 years ago. The oil contracts were sold to CHINA. So why are we in that country? Is it just to prop up Halliburton's yearly revenue reports to investors?

    August 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  30. OneOfTheSheep

    The U.S. got rid of Saddam Hussein, a little would-be Hitler who put his boot on the jugular of the U.S. economy when he invaded Kuwait. We did it quick, and we did it there, not here. I think that's a good thing. Our clueless management of the situation since has not exactly covered us with glory, which is why I think government is fundamentally incompetent. If there was any doubt, then Katrina came along.

    We are in Afghanistan because radicals given safe haven there by the Taliban attacked American soil with great loss of innocent life. When we leave, who's back in control there?

    You say "Maintaining the approximately 100,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan costs U.S. taxpayers about $2 billion a week – or more than $100 billion a year." I say if a purported journalist had publicly said anything remotely like that back in WW II they would have been either lynched by angry patriotic citizens or arrested, tried and shot by the military as a traitor.

    The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is that defense related expenditures is currently propping up an economy otherwise about to collapse of it's own rotten weight.

    The volunteer military of the U.S. costs more in terms of higher pay and benefits...but each of these represented greater opportunity for those of humble origin as would better themselves. It is an "unfunded" equal opportunity program that invests in the future of American by way of those that EARNED related benefits... remember the effect of the "GI Bill"?.

    In Texas modern fighters are built by well paid blue collar workers and sold to other countries around the globe, as is the technology in them, spare parts and maintenance contracts. Every such dollar that comes back reduces the U.S. trade deficit.

    Consider that all those Abrams tanks, personnel carriers, Hummers, ambulances, tanker trucks, personal weapons, drones, missiles, bombs, bullets, uniforms, and maintenance manuals are still made right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Don’t forget the firms and employees that provide food, water, distillation plants, tents, cooking equipment, cooling equipment, hydration equipment.

    When you yank those kind of dollars out of an economy as sick as ours you had best not be anywhere underneath!

    August 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm |

    I say leave right now.....blow up anything that can't be carried and get out of there right now. We just don't need it, and they don't appreciated us anyways.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  32. rablack

    Hopefully this is your Cronkite moment. Hopefully it will have a similar effect.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  33. jrod

    I know Walter Cronkite, and you are no Walter Cronkite.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  34. alex

    Until we stop trying to push democracy, in areas that do not want it,
    and we start to remember that we cannot police the world, our men and women
    in uniform, wiil continue spilling their blood for people who do not care.
    Bring our troops home now, and start to take care of this nation before others

    August 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  35. Frank Bullock

    How is it that no one is talking about this??? While military men and women risk their lives around the world, back at home there is a proposal being debated to significantly cut THE greatest incentive, we in the military, have worked so hard for... What would be the cost savings for military retirement had we not had two wars over the last decade?

    August 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  36. TW

    If you want jobs in this country we need to bring back jobs from overseas. I don't think Obama knows this.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  37. phillossifer

    they've fought for centuries, doesn't matter whose occupying them. As a Korea veteran i know it took fifty years to make Korea a viable society. Bring troops home, put them on Mexican border and interdict drug lords whom litteraly own the border and Mexico. Besides, if you look close, we have a "civil type" war being fought on our own streets as poverty raises it's head more and more.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  38. peaceatlast

    Get the troops home – I have been saying for over 3 years now that the fall of the Soviet Union was not because Capitalism beat Communism. It was because the Afghanistan war literally broke them, and here we are decades later and the U.S. is in the same position.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  39. Francis J. Wilhelm

    You raise a some good points for discussion, but not among them is: What would the costs be if we pulled out too soon??? Will we have to go back and clean up the mess of a civil war and what would the costs be in terms of lives lost by civilians caught up in the cross-fire of a civil war?

    August 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Madtown

      Will we have to go back and clean up the mess of a civil war...
      No, it's not our problem. Or, at least it shouldn't be our problem. We have a responsibility to clean up the mess we've made, but it's not our responsibility to fight a sovereign nation's civil war for them.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Greg0311

      No one likes to speak about that (as a general rule.) Doesn't make for nearly as good a sound byte.

      August 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Jeff

      I don't think that needs to be our problem anymore. Every country for their self at this point. It's a matter of survival.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  40. vic , nashville ,tn

    Good question unfortunately no answer

    August 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  41. ThinkAgain

    "How much more blood and treasure"

    Gee, I don't know; have Dick Cheney and all the other war profiteers made enough money yet?

    August 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Aaron

      They'll never make enough money. Their greed knows no limits. We'd still be fighting World War 2 if those thieves had been around then and been able to make a nickel off of it.

      August 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Truth Squad

      Project Much?

      Cheney has been out of the picture for 3 years and even if he was still involved he couldn't do it without Obama and a Democrat Controlled Congress Helping Him out.

      August 11, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
      • ThinkAgain

        If you think that just because his ugly mug isn't in the news that Dick is "out of the picture," you're incredibly naive. I agree that the Democratic Congress under Bush didn't put up a fight to stop the illegal wars, but that doesn't change the fact that Dick and Georgie STARTED THEM.

        August 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  42. nick

    keep sending in sitting ducks – chinooks – into harms way – get more killed

    August 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Garth

      With a top speed of 196 mph the CH-47 Chinook is the fastest helicopter in the Army.

      August 11, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  43. Karl Ritz

    With the dire issues at hand. How can Congress focus on the Wars abroad and the economic war at home. I baffles me why our elected leaders have" no clue". Congress is split in two and our Executive leadership is in a vacuum.
    Karl Ritz
    Raleigh, NC

    August 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  44. Kahoneez

    THE REAL Facts are , PNAC , Full Spectrum Dominance , Brzezinski ( " Control of Eurasia (Afghanistan ) will lead to Subordination of Africa " ....are designed policies that were created to create U.S. Hegemony and PERMANENT BASES in Middle East & AFGHAN REGION , facts YOU COVER UP , SINCE YOU'RE NOTHING MORE THAN PROPAGANDIST FOR U.S. / ISRAEL POLICY .
    Never seen ANY report linking OIL PIPELINES & Occupations , FACTS you lie by omission .

    August 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  45. Thomas

    What is the total cost spent in Afghanistan and Iraq as of today ?

    What is the estimated long term cost ?

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over with the same results !

    Did any journalists question these wars with any courage at the time Bush committed Insanity ?

    August 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  46. richardandrew

    myquestion is how many more are goin to die because of thies war?

    August 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  47. T'sah from Virginia

    It's NOT worth it – Bring the Boys/Girls HOME!!! And if you look at their faces, they are merely children!!!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  48. Millie Eaton

    The wars are unsustainable! It cost our government monies that should be going to our country. We pay for their infrastructure building roads, hospitals, schools, and their military. We also pay for medical while our seniors are asked to eat or take their medicine. How stupid are we?

    August 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • mojonah

      Agreed. We can't even pay our own debt.

      August 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
      • Beverly Jones

        But is it not this way with everything.......there is some form of debt or out come that seems to end up at a crossroad or some dead end?

        August 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  49. deb0155

    Bring our troops home now! And, let these monsters in the Middle East kill each other. They have been doing it for thousands of years and will always do so! Nothing will change in the Middle East because they DO NOT want change! How many more Americans must we watch die for people who do not want us there! The war on terror will never end – it will go on and on and on. When one leader dies – another one will rise – when one generation dies off – another is born. We must bring our troops home and protect our borders!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  50. noldtimer

    The war against terrorism will never be finished. Its like trying to kill every bug in your yard. Theres always more that you can't see, hiding somewhere. Since the U.S.has wiped out the majority of bugs in our neighbors yard, its time to bring home the troops and let the neighbors worry about their own lawn care. We as a nation can't afford to be the primary police officer anymore. The rest of the world must step up and share an equal burden, both financially and in the loss of life and limbs. The first step is to elect a president who will actually follow through in their promise to bring home the troops.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Madtown

      Well put, love the bug analogy. I agree with you, we're not the world's can of Raid.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Garth

      The problem with your argument is that the bugs have an extreme taste for American blood. The terrorists came to us on 9/11, not the other way around. So yeah we could pull out of Afghanistan, but how long do you think it will be before the Jihadists make their way here?

      August 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  51. NoTags

    How much more blood and treasure? NONE, Get out now!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.