Deficit Reduction Talks: What about Wars?
The news is full of articles about spending cuts or raising taxes, and cutting entitlement programs–but the cost of war is not generally mentioned, even though it is enormous. A study from Brown University says the cost of American wars begun in September 2001 ranges from 3.7 trillion to 4.4 trillion dollars. To make matters worse, the money for funding the two wars has mainly been borrowed, meaning the United States is on the hook for some huge interest payments. The interest alone on Pentagon spending from 2001 to 2011 has been estimated at $185 billion dollars. If the interest payments are not paid on schedule, they increase. By 2020, the interest payments could be one trillion dollars, says one estimate.
And there are other costs as well. For example, traumatic brain injury alone has been recorded in approximately 195,000 troops for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Can an estimate of wages lost over the course of those injured person’s lives even be calculated? Will they have full productive work lives, or even be able to take care of themselves? Through no fault of their own, some of them might not be able to work and have to live with family or be dependent upon government support for decades. Some of them undoubtedly have families of their own they would have supported after their service, but will be unable to due to the brain injury. The Veterans Administration has received 550,000 disability claims from soldiers involved in the two wars. Many of these soldiers were injured at a fairly young age. Will they be on disability for thirty, forty or fifty years? Their healthcare will also be paid for by the government for the same period of time.
It must be said that these two extremely costly wars, both in human lives and the financial burdens, were probably not even necessary, especially the Iraq war. As a former army artillery officer wrote recently, “Sadly, many American lives have been lost due to flawed or falsified intelligence that was disseminated by unscrupulous elected and appointed officials to engage us in wars that were not our concern and posed no immediate threat to our country.” (Source: NaplesNews.com)
Image Credit: michael kooiman