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New report outlines cost of US wars

A new study revealed that the US has spent at least $5.9 trillion on wars since 2001, and veterans' medical costs are expected to rise too.

Published: November 22, 2018, 9:40 am

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    A new report from Brown University has provided an estimate of the overall cost to the US government of its many post-9/11 wars known as the Global Wars on Terror. The estimate is a massive $5.933 trillion spent on conflict in the fiscal year 2019.

    The Brown University study is illuminating because it calculates a sum vastly higher than previous official figures.

    In trying to obfuscate the costs, the Pentagon has simply reported GOT missions as overseas contingency operations. But when the cost of medical and disability care for soldiers, and such future disbursements are included, along with the interest on loans for GOT wars, the real cost of involvement becomes clear.

    The vast expenditure is compounded by no end in sight for expensive overseas military engagements; in fact the GOT is expected to grow and expand. This in particular, will further add to the medical costs for veterans’ being consistently deployed abroad.

    From 2001, the US has engaged in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Uganda and elsewhere around the globe with some engagements that have become more or less permanent fixtures.

    Shortly after Donald Trump was elected as US President, he noted that the US no longer wins wars. “When I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say we never lost a war,” Trump told a group of US governors. “Now, we never win a war.”

    Dominic Tierney, a professor at Swarthmore College believes the US has not yet mastered how to win wars against insurgents. The problem is however that the US continues to involve itself in exactly such conflicts.

    Franz-Stefan Gady, an Associate Editor with The Diplomat, says American decision-makers continue to fail to understand the true nature of military conflict.

    “Senior US civilian and military leaders have repeatedly shown a cultural, social, and religious ignorance of foreign peoples. America’s distance from the frontlines of its wars and its inability to accurately discern the physical and human geography of its antagonists have led to a fatal violation of Sun Tzu’s dictum, ‘Know your enemy’,” Gady noted.

    “A pernicious effect is that war, without an adequate understanding of its closely lived complexity and horror, appears more manageable to US policymakers.” Gady argues that American decision-makers are therefore more prone to advancing military solutions over other options.

    “Additionally, a more technological prosecution of war offers the illusion that policymakers have more choices during a military conflict than they actually obtain. Lost is the insight that the only real freedom to devise policy pertaining to a military conflict is before the outbreak of any hostilities.”

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