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:

Image Credit: michael kooiman

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Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

So true. Thanks Jake.

Irene S.
Irene S6 years ago

Just yesterday I read an article in Soujourners magazine called "Let them Eat Tanks" about how much we spend on the military: 58% of the federal government's budget. It also showed how only 7% of the time does military force end terrorism: 43% of the time it's politics that ends terrorism, 40% it's policing (within the country, not we go over there and take over the police), and 10% of the time the terrorists win. If we took all that money out of the military and put it into our national debt, we wouldn't have a debt in a few years. If we put it in other programs, people could live happier.

If you want to read the article yourself, go to and click on "Let them Eat Tanks." You have to "register" by giving your name and email address, but it's free and they're just sending you an email newsletter that you can opt out of while still being able to read the magazine articles online.

Deborah Kampfer
Deborah Vitek6 years ago

Between the U.S. not even discussing the debt with any reality and Canada trying to find more oil, I feel that humanity is doomed so nothing really matters anymore. If our politicians face the fact that life as we know it right this minute cannot go on and they cannot lead us into a better, greener, kinder to the earth way of living, the it does not matter. I have lost all hope and everyday find it harder and harder to deal with the idiotic population that are this earth's excuse for humans.

Clemente S.
Clemente S6 years ago

2 reasons: Very strong military muscle is a lot more influential then how rich your country is or how good the companies are when it comes to country to country interaction. Without military muscles, others will not hesitate to bully you, financially. Second reason is that now if all the military personnel and related business are stopped, the unemployment rate in the US will be sky rocketed.

Martin K.
Martin Kinnaman6 years ago

It actually does not take that much research to call into question almost all the wars America has been in as "economic" in birth. False flag operations as far back as the Spanish war in the Philipines during the end of the 1800's. People just have never wanted to know. I suppose better late than never.

Monica D.
Monica D6 years ago

Very good points.

Carol Fyfewilson

Ultimately, war makes money--big profits for the armament manufacturers and chemical companies.

laura r.
laura r6 years ago

I weep for the future of this country..Obama has betrayed all who supported him. I have voted in EVERY election...but willNEVER vote for any Democrat who betrays the American People. George Orwell was right. Read 1984 and prepare yourself.

Martin L.
Martin L6 years ago

The sad irony in all of this is that the majority of American People can see this as an issue, but sadly a small number of brainless, half wit degenerates within the US military and administration cannot.

It has always been believed that America is at war to satisfy the mere whims of a few and destroy US foreign policy and standing around the world.

Yes I share the anger of the majority and it won't be until America defaults on its vast multi-trillion deficit that perhaps more US lawmakers will sit-up and understand the vast "PILE OD POO" America is in and has been in for decades.