The Costs of War

A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there — pretty soon, as the man said, you’re talking real money. But you’re not even close to counting the costs of the US “forever wars” in the Middle East. The numbers are sky high, the questions are profound: more than $6 trillion paid out since 9/11 for missions to Afghanistan, Iraq ,and Pakistan, one trillion of the six just for interest on a borrowed-money war. Who owns that debt, and who will pay it, when? If you can’t think in trillions, try equivalences and opportunities lost: money for 21st century wars could have retired all student debt five times over; could have built thousands of miles of high-speed rail; could have financed Medicare for most of us. The government doesn’t audit its empire, but scholars do.

An old-fashioned war-financing effort.

The hidden costs of the long, losing war in the Middle East can break your heart when you learn the disproportionate deaths of innocents. They could break the bank when the credit card debt on six trillion dollars’ worth of war comes due. We are getting highlights this hour from a remarkable network of auditors, in effect, on the dangerous downside of empire.  About two dozen independent scholars of history, economics, and warfare are linked in a Cost-of-War project to tell us what the government would like us to ignore – starting with that point that our wars since 9/ll have been financed by borrowing, the main reason our debt exceeds our GNP, meaning we owe more than we produce in a year. Just the interest paid in on the credit-card war era is more than a trillion dollars. 

Guest List
Neta Crawford
Professor of political science at Boston University.
Shamiran Mako
Professor of international relations at Boston University.
Linda Bilmes
Senior lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School.
Rosella Cappella Zielinski
Professor of political science at Boston University.
Tulsi Gabbard
2020 presidential candidate.
Reading List
Costs of War
Brown University
War with Iran will cost more than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
Linda Bilmes, Rosella Cappella Zielinski, Neta Crawford,

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