Price of Peace?

June 22, 1999

I don't know if you realize this, but Operation Allied Force ranks as the longest sustained U.S. combat operation since the Vietnam War. After all, Operation Desert Storm was only a 100-hour war. So now that we are talking about the prospects of peace in Yugoslavia and Kosovo, some are beginning to count the costs. This military excursion could be expensive.

Neither NATO nor the Pentagon has provided an accounting of the cost of nearly eleven weeks of air strikes against the Yugoslavian Serb forces. But outside forces guess that the cost is approaching $3 billion. This would already put the bill higher than Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. (The total cost of that military operation was $14 billion, but since $12 billion was reimbursed by Persian Gulf nations, the actual cost to the U.S. was just $2 billion.)

Experts estimate that the peacekeeping operation could be even more expensive. The Pentagon estimates that could cost the U.S. $2 billion a year. However, others estimate that the cost will be more like $3 billion a year. And for those of you thinking this might just be a one-year expense, let me remind you that we still have about 7000 troops in Bosnia.

The European Union estimates that $30 billion will be required for rebuilding and providing food and medicine. The bulk of this will go to Kosovo, but other portions will be doled out in Albania and Macedonia. About 60 percent of this will be paid by the European Union, and the rest should come from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Will there be other costs? Of course. Will the U.S. be asked to pay those costs? Almost certainly. This has already been an expensive war, but the real expenses are just beginning.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.