The Costs of Endless Wars

by on May 27, 2019 · 0 comments

in Under the Perfect Sun, War and Peace

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Photo by Judi Curry, 2014.

By Jim Miller

If you don’t know someone in the military, sometimes it can be easy to forget that the United States has been in a war that never ends since 9/11.  As a professor at City College, I see the effects in and out of the classroom as the stream of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and/or dealing with war related health issues continues unabated and is frequently unrecognized by the community.

The same could be said of the skyrocketing suicide rates for active duty military and veterans .

As for the fallen that Memorial Day is meant to remember, the numbers since 9/11 are troubling with 480,000 dead from wars in the Middle East and Asia, including 280,000 civilians, according to a recent study from the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University.  Other studies put just the number of Iraqis killed in that conflict at a cold 1,000,000.

The toll of our endless wars is stunning and ongoing, but too many of us have ceased to even notice as the casualties continue to trickle in and more saber-rattling from the Trump administration threatens to add to the body count.  So it goes.

Beyond the horrible cost in blood and lives, the financial toll of keeping the war machine humming is also catastrophic.  According to the Brown study, America has spent $5.9 trillion on wars since 9/11, and the future costs will continue to rise, threatening rather than ensuring our national security.  As the study’s authors note :

Far from being a wise and prudential use of human and budgetary resources, US national security strategy may be undermining America’s immediate and long-term security. Since 9/11 the US has had a military that is more than adequate for the defense of the homeland and US allies from terrorist attack. The high level of spending on war and other military preparations may not be in proportion to the threats the US faces.

The Brown study also outlines how the incredibly high spending for continued military mobilization pose an “opportunity cost” by “taking resources away from those that are certain to materialize” such as “grave security, economic and survival threats in the present and future from climate change.”  Given the fact that the military is one of “the largest sources of greenhouse gases in the United States,” the Brown study observes that it might be wise, from a national security standpoint, to rethink our commitment to endless war:

In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable. The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities.

With this in mind, perhaps we should remember the fallen this Memorial Day, but not use their sacrifice to justify unending, counterproductive military conflict.  Let’s honor the dead by not creating more and doing what we can to ensure that life as we know it can continue to flourish.


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: