The obscenity of continuing with endless wars while forcing cut backs in everything from libraries to healthcare at home is not lost on millions of people in both the US and Britain.

Lindsey German

It’s hard to even imagine what these amounts of money look like. But don’t worry, you don’t have to: it’s already gone up in smoke.

One trillion dollars on the war in Afghanistan. Another $1.7 trillion on the war in Iraq. These are the figures paid by US taxpayers for the horrific wars of this century.

Yet as the majority of US troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, along with their Nato counterparts, the operations can only be seen as a failure.

According to calculations made in a Financial Times article, since 2001 US government spending on the war in Afghanistan has reached $765 billion.

On top of that is interest on borrowing for the war ($125 billion) and medical costs already paid for those who left the military (hard to estimate separately but together with those of Iraq they add up to $134 billion).

Other costs include the keeping of military healthcare premiums low, but raising military salaries above the rate of inflation. Both these are assumed to be political decisions, given the unpopularity of the war generally.

Yet there are fears of Taliban resurgence, despite the continued presence of 10,000 US troops, and a recognition that little has improved in Afghanistan after 13 years of war.

The amount spent on reconstruction in Afghanistan is — inflation adjusted — higher than the cost of the US Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe after the Second World War. But there is little to show for it in the lives of ordinary Afghans, in large part because most reconstruction has been linked to military goals.

Harvard economist Linda Bilmes reckons that nearly another trillion dollars ($836 bn) will go to cover future healthcare and disability care for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Military pension liability in 20 years time is expected to be a quite unbelievable $2.72 trillion.

The news that more British troops are to be sent to Iraq is a reminder that these jaw dropping amounts are not just in the past but will be in the future as well. While Britain’s spending in the wars has never come close to matching that of the US, it is there on a smaller scale.

The obscenity of continuing with these wars while forcing cut backs in everything from libraries to healthcare at home is not lost on millions of people in both countries.

Recently revealed US budget plans show that the next trillion in military spending is already well on its way.

The new budget is expected to pass through the US Congress at the end of this week. It will allow the Pentagon to spend $554 billion overall. This will ensure a permanent state of war between the US and its various present and future enemies.

Just as an alternative to austerity policies is never countenanced by mainstream politicians and their echoes in the media, the monumental failure of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond, seems only to encourage those responsible to pursue more military adventures.

Another indication that neoliberalism and war reinforce each other, and that both need to be defeated.

Source: Stop the War Coalition

15 Dec 2014 by Lindsey German

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