Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The 4 Trillion Dollar War

I’ve just finished reading Dexter Filkins’ great book, The Forever War. Mr. Filkins, the author is a foreign correspondent and he writes about the rise of the Taliban, the aftermath of the September 11 attack on New York and the days that followed. Want to learn something about the complexity in the Middle East—read this book. This is not a simple problem. He writes about the people in these battle-scarred lands, soldiers and their families, the Memorial services he has attended. Though the book came out in 2008 it is a prophetic observation of where we are as we deal with the ISIS crisis.

Osama bin Laden said that the September 11th attack was to bring America’s financial system to its knees. Was he right?  President in 2003 as the war started that it would cost $60 billion dollars. We now know the price tag was at least $817 billion and the Economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz states that the cost of those wars could be as much as $4 trillion dollars. We continue to pay interest on this credit card. This, of course does not factor in all those service people, if they did come back, many arrived home crippled or damaged some way for life. Filkins writes about their stories in Thank You for Your Service. Two million soldiers have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands came back with PTSD.

So as we beat the war drums again—I simply do not know what to think. ISIS must somehow be stopped. But the United States cannot do this alone. USA Today says that bombing ISIL costs us $10 million dollars a day. That paper gives us these estimates:

  • Stretched over a year this new war could cost us as much as $3.7 billion dollars.
  • Operation Enduring in Afghanistan (2013 figures) costs us $212 million a day.
  • One Tomahawk land attack cruise missile costs $1.1 million. (47 have been used through September.) 
In the last several days Congress slashed $8.7 billion from Federal Food Stamp Funding.
I do not know what to do about this terrible situation in Iraq and Syria. I do know we must think and hard before we engage in another full-scale war. If Filkins is right this could be a forever war. You don’t see these figures enumerated by those in Washington or many of our media folk.

Michael J. Tuttle / flickr

--RogerLovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com

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