Our soft power profile in the world is hunky-dory, don't #uck with it. (Yes, muck.) by Dwayne Hunn.
In The Three Trillion Dollar War ($3-5): The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (2008), coauthored by Linda Bilmes and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, that cost was pegged between $3-5 trillion. Bilmes in a follow up 2013 Harvard Study pushes that economy rotting out number to $6 trillion because of costs related to:
* Over a quarter of a million troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI) which, in many cases, were combined with PTSD, posing greater problems in treatment and recovery.
* Constituting a particularly grim facet of this mental health crisis is the doubling of the suicide rate for US Army personnel, with many who attempted suicide "suffering serious injuries," opine the report authors.
* Massive direct spending on the two imperialist interventions continues. With over 60,000 US troops remaining in Afghanistan, it is estimated that the cost of deploying one American soldier for one year in this war amounts to $1 million.
* About 2.5 million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and just over 1.5 million had left active duty by September 2012. Of those, more than half were receiving government medical care, and one out of every two veterans had already applied for permanent disability benefits.
* "The U.S. has already borrowed some $2 trillion to finance the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and the associated defense build-up -- a major component of the $9 trillion U.S. debt accrued since 2001," Bilmes writes. Any accounting of other macroeconomic costs associated with the wars, such as the impact of higher oil prices on aggregate demand, would easily bring the total to $6 trillion.
All this is spent with very little seeming service to America on the part of 99.5% of the populace -- who have not served. Many of those non-servers rave about how "exceptional" they are, as they dodge the bomb craters or roadside potholes for the "sofa and high-def tele" that "national service free" America provides; as Karl W. Eikenberry and David M. Kennedy point out in their May 26, 2013 New York Times Op-ed: Americans and Their Military, Drifting Apart.
For nearly two generations, no American has been obligated to join up, and few do. Less than 0.5 percent of the population serves in the armed forces, compared with more than 12 percent during World War II. Even fewer of the privileged and powerful shoulder arms. In 1975, 70 percent of members of Congress had some military service; today, just 20 percent do, and only a handful of their children are in uniform.With all that money spent on the .5% of Americans, what's the feeling of our soldiers who went off to a trumped-up and consequently prolonged Iraq and Afghanistan (our longest) wars?
USA Today's April 16, 2015 edition implied that today's overburdened soldiers hate their jobs, while adding that 52% felt pessimistic about their future.
Did sending our troops quash or quell the problems and problem makers? When one sources thinkbynumbers.org, one finds that from 1993-2005 troop increases tracked with suicide bombing increases; and extensive research gathered at this Washingtonblog verifies that increases in foreign military intervention tracks with increased terroristic responses.
The Greatest Generation was... great because Mother Liberty accepted almost all to a bustling nation with room to grow, almost everywhere immigrants worked at building community, almost all suffered and fought through the depression. Almost all flocked together to win the war. Whether across the ocean or at home, almost all Americans served. They served in reverse proportion to the numbers who fight hardships at home or abroad today.
They fought in a country that had nowhere near today's income inequality. They lived in a nation whose top income tax marginal rate was 91% and whose effective 1954 rate was estimated between 49-70%.
The Greatest Generation was... because almost all shared directly or indirectly in the horrible images of war and warring, in the mangling of soldiers and citizens' bodies and minds, in the tears a soldier delivered envelop brought to a mother's eyes at the screened door, in the bruising manufacturing of the steely implements of warfare. And all -- rich and poor -- paid taxes and bought war bonds to pay for what may have been the last necessary war.