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What is the Cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars?

What is the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? What is the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

On January 17, 1961, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a farewell address just before John F. Kennedy took over the presidency. Eisenhower fought in World War One, and was a military officer for most of his life. He served as General of the Army and Army Chief of Staff in the years of World War Two and thereafter. His stellar military career led to him being elected president twice, beginning in 1952. He was a Republican. In light of his career and his political affiliation, what Eisenhower said in his farewell address is utterly amazing. Basically, he warned that the US military, along with its allies in war industries and politics, might end up in control of the United States. Here’s an excerpt from his speech:

“Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

If all Eisenhower had ever done was to give this speech, he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. Indeed, the backstory is that the original wording of the speech advised us to beware of the “military-industrial-congressional complex.” However, Eisenhower was censored- too many in Congress were already on the teat of the military-industrial payroll, and he was warned not to offend them.

Since 1961, the stranglehold that the U.S. military, military corporations, soldier advocates and political warmongers have on America has grown tremendously. In 2011, America spends approximately $2BILLION per week on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with billions more going to maintain American military presence in more than 100 countries around the world.

Images of war


This is at a time when American politicians are cutting programs for the elderly, disabled, children, parks, education, clear air, clear water, job training, social security and mental health. Obama and the Republicans never stop to ask what is the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Many states teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. President Obama proposes massive cuts in spending, but exempts military spending and refuses to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, Eisenhower had it right and it’s no surprise to me that Rolling Stone magazine just broke a story about how Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops, ordered military psychological brainwasher specialists to target American politicians, using psychological warfare tactics to ensure that the politicians increased war funding.

The movie Why We Fight is a great summary of how war controls American politicians, corporations, domestic policy and foreign policy. In my own life, I wage war against war by counseling young people not to enlist in the military, by trying to get military recruiters banned from junior high and high schools, by voting against pro-war politicians, and by communicating with soldiers to encourage them to become conscientious objectors. The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars piles up in blood and money. What are you doing to stop wars?

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Last modified on Monday, 17 September 2012 16:10

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