Can we say that the last 17 years of endless wars have greatly created over 15 trillion dollars in debt between 2000 and 2020?

by Kevin Stoda, Oman

The USA has not won a war in over 25 years. I estimate that in this time the USA’s  Department of Defense (DOD) along with  War Spending& Costs between and among the NSA, CIA and various other US Agencies ( now under Homeland Security )will equal to  approximately  20 Trillion dollars in the period since the Cold War ended and  2020.

In these numbers we have to look at care of veterans and victims alike. We have to look at price rises in petroleum we paid for between 2001 and 2014, and we have to look at the full range of security costs to victims, tax-payers, and soldiers or American-paid mercenaries and American-paid-contracting firms.

We also need to look at the cost of things like the Great Wall built or upgraded between the USA in Mexico.  These projects  were started in earnest once Homeland Security was created.  For all these costs and out-of-control spending habits due to the wars of terrorism, America is not much safer than it was in 2000.  The humongous deficit created for war products, personnel and equipment are leading us to neglect the  fighting climate change and fighting healthcare are for all–as well as stopping us from fighting for  better ways of producing sustainable lifestyles and enabling for us to care for our aging population.


Restarting Stiglitz’ Research 

Recently, I have been trying to find out if Joseph Stiglitz or others have taken time to add up the  total cost of USA wars and fears of wars in the last 17 to 20 years.  I am doing this because many Trumpites are still claiming that only th Democrats, like Obama, have made the deficit what it is today–supposedly about 20 Trillion dollars.  That is, that only Obama or Clinton are responsible for the national deficit–without any Republican being held responsible for being equally (or more) irresponsible with the Nation’s money and Deficit (than their opposition counterparts in Washington D.C) .

I am happy to state that at the time of this writing,  the sort of research  Stiglitz started is still quietly being undertaken as seriously as it was 10 years ago, i.e.  when Stiglitz first wrote and published the $3 Trillion Dollar War (2008). For example, new aricles show that the Iraq War and the related war in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2015 cost over $5 Trillion.  However, I am saddened to say that the entire of research on economic theory and economic multiplyers in particularly need to be rehashed and further developed to  describe the militarized American reality too many Americans have come to see as simply a given.

I should note that Stiglitz was mostly focusing on the War in Iraq between 2003 and 2008.  Stiglitz did not entail all of the Wars on Terrorism–Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Philippines, Pakistan and elsewhere. however, even the new articles and research fall short in covering the entire costs of Wars on Terror on the National Budget and the American economy.

Nonetheless, I am not certain that the VA and other secret budget costs have been fully accounted for–even in Stiglitz’s seminal work.   For example, I believe that the war budget is more inflationary than has been calculated.  Recall that the housing bubble of last decade, which helped fuel banking & financing shenanigans around the globe have not been multiplied well enough over the years in terms of lost jobs, taxes and revenues for Americans.    In fact, millions of Americans have had to go abroad to find good paying jobs and thus have to pay living costs abroad–costs that never make it back to the states.

Veterans and military retirees, too, often have to leave the USA in order to make due or to have surgeries.  Their monies too are left abroad due to the fact that the USA’s welfare state has been hollowed out due to unlimited Warfare and Defense or Security spending

American Firms and Leaders have Bet the Farm on War

In its run-up to the Invasion of Iraq in 2003, the DOD and the Bush Administration predicted that their shooting war would only cost between  $50 billion to $60 billion war.  In short, the American Congress and People were undersold the war by 95%.  Likewise, Obama–supposedly a peace-oriented president (when elected) maintained most of the older wars he had inherited and added a few more over his eight-year-term in office. We will be paying for these current wars well into the next millennia.  how

In short, the American Congress and America People were under-sold the war by 95%.  This is typical of American Generals and our Executive and Congressional Branches when it comes to formulating policies and ranking costs.   This all leads to running up a $20 Trillion Dollar Deficit.

Likewise, Barack Obama–supposedly a peace-oriented presidential candidate (when elected) had maintained most of the older wars he had inherited–and slowly added a few more over his eight-year-term in office.  These include wars again in Iraq, a war in Yemen, a Civil war situation in Libya, and a constant of tension between Pakistan and its neighbors. Likewise, Saudi Arabia and other countries can only keep the badly planned and developed USA economy in shape by buying our weapons and sending us cheap oil. We will be paying for these current wars well into the next millennia.  how

Meanwhile, we will be paying for these current wars well into the next millennia.  How

How many more wars do you believe Trump and Mr. Exxon have planned for us over the next few years if they can’t get other peoples or nation states to behave their way? 

The same thing will be true if Trump keeps spendaholic ex-Generals, Social Budget Cutters,  and crazy War-Hawks in his cabinet during the next 4 years.  These war-profiteers are simply running up deficits that our great-great-great-great-grand children will never be able to pay off.

In 2010 Stiglitz wrote: “In calculating our $3 trillion estimate two years ago, we blamed the war for a $5-per-barrel oil price increase. We now believe that a more realistic (if still conservative) estimate of the war’s impact on prices works out to at least $10 per barrel. That would add at least $250 billion in direct costs to our original assessment of the war’s price tag. But the cost of this increase doesn’t stop there: Higher oil prices had a devastating effect on the economy.”  So, by 2010 Stigliz was fairly sure that the Iraq Invasion had increased USA deficit by at least 4 trillion dollars.

Sure oil is cheap now but within 10 years the population growth of the planet will increase demand for energy above what it is now.  In the meantime, Trump wants to build more pipelines rather than listen to the DOD’s longheld advice that Climate Change is a bigger issue than terrorism on our planet this 21st Century.  America’s leadership is as backwards as possible now in 2017 in terms of tackling  real cost issues and building appropriately  sustainable American economics of scale.

In summary, the $4 trillion to $5 Trillion dollar war in Iraq (2003-2010) price tag did not include the overall costs of conflicts in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq since 2010, in Afghanistan since 2001, in the USA (building strong borders etc.) and elsewhere in the nearly 150 countries that the USA carries out military missions, training, security of forts.   We need this and other forms of economics research advanced and taught in our high schools and elementary schools or we will not grow beyond the poor logic in policy debates that we have been witnessing for 7 decades in the USA.  (We turn to tertiary institutes and think tanks to do the real hard research and get back to us as soon as possible.)



About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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