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After bin Laden: It is Time to Stop the War Machine

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War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.

~President Jimmy Carter .

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The amount of money that had been dedicated to the hunt for bin Laden and his Islamic compatriots is astounding.   Now that we "got him",   the American Military machine, instead of standing down, has been reinvigorated with new purpose and rededicated to routing out the remaining factions of Al Qaeda within Pakistan and Afghanistan.   What this means to us Americans is quite poignant:   More money to the military machine and more growth of the police state under the Patriot Act's guise of protecting our borders.  

It has been reported that "Washington has massively ramped up its drone campaign against militants in areas near the Afghan border, and argues they are highly effective in the war against al-Qaeda and its Islamist allies."   Not two days passed after the death of bin Laden before America sent an unmanned drone into North Waziristan, Pakistan to eliminate an "Al Qaeda stronghold".   The result of this action was the death of " 8 militants ".   Pakistani leaders are now stating that America is an assaulting their sovereignty with these actions and now, as a direct result of our continued foreign affair nightmare, another war has begun and more money from We the People and more young men and women's lives will go into the War Chest.  

At this point in our rich (now monetarily poor) history, we are faced with a situation that is so very destructive to the future of our country, that even the most conservative of our citizens should take pause to realize its detrimental, economic implications.   According to The Huffington Post ;

" Broken down individually, the government has spent $806 billion for Iraq, $444 billion for Afghanistan, $29 billion for enhanced security and $6 billion on "unallocated" items. The vast majority of all the money appropriated has gone to the Department of Defense, and of that money more and more is being spent on Operation & Maintenance (O&M) funding, which went from $42 billion in FY2004 to $79 billion in FY2008. Only $67 billion (or 5 percent) went to the State Department or USAID. Only $8 billion (or 1 percent) went to veterans' care, via the Department of Veterans Affairs."

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Additionally, President Obama has outlined his budget for the 2012 fiscal year about which The Post also gives us the following stats:

"The president is asking Congress for $671 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal 2012, which starts Oct. 1. The budget calls for $553 billion in the "base budget" and $117.8 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By appropriation, military personnel accounts are $142.8 billion of the base budget. Operations and maintenance is $204.4 billion, procurement is $113 billion and research and development is $75.3 billion."

Taken as a safe assumption that this relationship represents the average expenditure ratio between military support and direct spending on the Middle East War effort, the math is quite simple.   $117.8 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan divided by the entire budget of $671 Billion means that 18% of the Defense Budget is devoted directly to the Wars.

Taking this a step further; if one calculates the total spent on the War of $1.28 Trillion (based on the 18% average of total defense budget), then the amount of money that has gone to defense since 9/11 totals $1.28 trillion/ 18%= $7.12 trillion dollars.   Of course, now that bin Laden's death has reinvigorated the engines of the military machine, we can expect another ten years of this insanity and with the inflation rate figured in, it would be safe to say another $10 trillion will be spent on this ongoing American Holy War while Americans continue to lose their piece of the American Pie at home.

Of course, the reality is much deeper than the numbers given to us from the government.   If it weren't for the war effort, the support would be much less needed so one may as well assign half of the current budget to the cause and is also does not account for the monies gone to "rebuilding" Iraq and Afghanistan which comes from funds allocated as foreign aid.   This means that the realistic number spent on the War effort is more accurately; twice what they tell us.  

The recent victory of our military engine only serves to condone the expenditure at at time when America is facing a fiscal catastrophe.   Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), recently told The New York Times "We can't pay our bills here, yet we're spending $8 billion a month in Afghanistan. I don't know what our country is trying to accomplish. History says Afghanistan will never be a nation. It will be a country of tribes. We're wearing out the troops and spending money we don't have."   It is refreshing to finally hear that some of our representatives are concerned for our future here in America .

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This monetary expenditure is astoundingly devastating to our economic state but it means little in the face of the number of human lives lost to the machine.   According to Unknown News , " about 303 times as many people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq than in the ghastly attacks of September 11, 2001. More than 130 times as many people have been killed in these wars and occupations than in all terrorist attacks in the world from 1993-2004 ".   Have we gotten our revenge yet or have Americans become so obsessed with killing Muslims regardless of their innocence that we need more to sate the demons of death that have taken residence in our culture? When will the numbers come to mean something to us Americans?  

In his article, " Where Have All the Graveyards Gone? ", Adam Rothschild has asked the poignant question;


"What if, from the beginning, everyone killed in the Iraq and Afghan wars had been buried in a single large cemetery easily accessible to the American public? Would it bring the fighting to a halt more quickly if we could see hundreds of thousands of tombstones, military and civilian, spreading hill after hill, field after field, across our landscape?" Also, "Where are the public places for mourning the mounting toll of today's wars?  Where is that feeling of never again?"


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Steven Forrest is a Project Architect living in St. Petersburg, Florida. Currently, he is working to implement Green Building initiatives in several communities across Florida. Given the current situation in America and the continued (more...)

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