Robert Gates took to Capitol Hill today for the last time as defense secretary, dropping a bit of news on war costs in response to a question about Afghanistan:
[T]his is not a war without end. The Lisbon summit has made clear that the transfer to Afghan security responsibility and leadership will be complete not later than the end of 2014. Troops will be coming down during that period. The costs of these wars is coming down dramatically. The costs of these wars will drop between '11 -- FY '11 and '12 by $40 billion and between '12 and '13 probably by several tens of billions of dollars more.
Gates got around to the discussion of war costs in a roundabout way, responding to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) about Pakistan and its willingness, or lack thereof, to help the United States combat terrorists. Leahy noted the news today that "our putative ally" -- Pakistan -- "arrested five people under the suspicion that they helped the United States to get Osama bin Laden, after publicly saying, of course, they wanted us to get Osama bin Laden." He added that "we could overlook the problem in Pakistan if the Afghan government were any better," then asked Gates, "how long do we support governments that lie to us? When do we say enough is enough?"
Gates' response began with this quip:
Well, first of all, I would say based on 27 years in CIA and four-and-a-half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.