Summary: We ignore our wars (hardly mentioned in the campaigns). We pay for our wars, hot and cold, in two ways — in money and blood. Let’s look at the toll in both. This will be an unpopular post. Neither Left nor Right cares to look at the toll of our wars. Both prefer their poo-throwing fights.
The first way we pay for our wars.
As Andrew Bacevich explains, our wars have almost disappeared from the news (“How We Learned Not To Care About America’s Wars“). But the bills come due anyway. The formal US military budget is aprox. $611 billion, more than that of that of the next eight nations combined. That’s more than twice the budget of all our possible enemies combined (see the graph from CNBC). But that total reflects DoD’s skill at burying military spending in other departments. More comprehensive totals by outside experts (e.g., by POGO) calculate the total at over a trillion dollars.
Our military spending is grossly disproportionate to our actual military threats. Still, conservatives want more (they always want more). Like this from the Heritage Foundation. Military spending is a political joyride for politicians and a profits pipeline from taxpayers to defense contractors.
The second way we pay for our wars
Our men (and some women) pay for our wars in blood. Temporary injuries. Permanent injuries. Crippling injuries. Deaths. Each of with leaves a hole in their family and community. When reading about our wars, remember this page from the Blue Star Mothers newsletter. Although most Americans have forgotten our War on Terror, our post-9/11 Long War, they publish one of these every month. These Americans died in our service. Our job is to send them out only to defend America. Click to enlarge.
See the 7,149 names of the fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan. See the In Remembrance website.
What is a Gold Star Mother?
“During the early days of World War I, a Blue Star was used to represent each person, man or woman in the Military Service of the United States. As the war progressed and men were killed in combat, others wounded and died of their wounds or disease, there came about the accepted usage of the Gold Star. This Gold Star was substituted and superimposed upon the blue Star in such a manner as to entirely cover it.
“The idea of the Gold Star was that the honor and glory accorded the person for his supreme sacrifice in offering for his country, the last full measure of devotion and pride of the family in this sacrifice, rather than the sense of personal loss which would be represented by the mourning symbols.”
The Blue Star Mothers of America.
See their website to learn about this valuable organization.
“We are mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, foster mothers and female legal guardians who have children serving in the military, guard or reserves, or children who are veterans. We support each other and our children while promoting patriotism. Our organization focuses on our mission every single day and will never, ever, forsake our troops, our veterans or the families of our Fallen Heroes.
“We have over 6,000 members from over 200 Chapters throughout the nation. Our members are extremely active and have accomplished the following in …2012. 74,123 care packages sent to members of the Armed Forces, giving more than 250,000 military personnel a little bit of love from home. 137,654 letters sent to members of the Armed Forces. 9,439 veterans events throughout the year. 287 events honoring Gold Star Mothers. 2,800 cards honoring Gold Star families.”
For More Information
- The King of Brobdingnag comments on America’s grand strategy.
- Return of the COINistas (the zombies of military theory).
- Stratfor sees Afghanistan war fatigue in America. Only our rulers remain eager.
- Two generals chat about Afghanistan (a funny, sad, horrifying look at our war).
- Why Trump’s plan for Afghanistan will fail.
- Stratfor pans Trump’s new Afghanistan War plan.
Two enlightening books about the Afghanistan War.
Afghanistan: How the West Lost Its Way by Tim Bird and Alex Marshall (2011).
The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan by Jack Fairweather (2014).