Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Honor of Our Military and The Cost of War

Today is Veteran's Day.  While the mistrust of the government is growing exponentially, virtually all Americans appreciate and admire the tremendous sacrifice that the young men that serve make,as well as the expertise and bravery they demonstrate.  Where opinions start to differ in how they're used and the motives for using this incredible group of men and women.

I am of those that believe that the misuse, or overuse, of the military especially in the last couple of decades has grown to alarming proportions.  In the first Gulf War, Bush 1 was able to establish an alliance of something like 90 countries.  Contrast that with today. The current administration, in response to the General McChrystal and other senior military advisers, concerned about Afghanistan, have taken the position that another "surge" in troops is desperately needed.  Reportedly, the administration is looking to form a 40,000 troop alliance to add to our resources there.  In contrast to the alliance formed in Desert Storm, only TWO countries are even willing to consider sending anyone: Great Britain and Turkey.

What's worse about our inability to pursuade any countries of our moral high ground, is that  hostilities are becoming more possible in Pakistan and Iran.  It is suspected that Pakistan has been aiding the Taliban all along, which partially explains our diminished prospects there. 

The dollar cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are believed to be in excess of $1Trillion: Funds of that magnitude are desperately needed to PROPERLY deploy to revive our own economy. The problem becomes circular.  Without a strong economy, the stress of war costs become significant. Just ask the old USSR.

But the cash cost may be vastly understated. Early official estimates were a fraction of what the actual costs have become.  The fact is, we don't have accurate information on just about anything having to do with the use of government funds, so who knows what our wars really cost or wll continue to cost?   Even a total withdrawal would be very expensive. 

Let's not forget the human element.  While we have been largely shielded from pictures of caskets of soldiers returning from the combat by the media, human casualties among military and civilians has been well into the tens of thousands. Perhaps more.  Many of these civilians are innocent: collateral damage as it's called.

In addition to the physical, the mental cost is vastly underreported and staggering.  Suicides among our troops are at unaccepably high levels and some have reported that returning troops are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at rates of near 25%.  Who can put a cost on that kind of suffering?

The USSR, when it was called that, invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and few doubt it was a factor in the downfall of the empire. They were also occupying several Eastern European countries and had a poor  centrally controlled economy.   History has  also shown that exessive military adventurism was a prime cause of the fall of the British empire.  We have enough of a challenge right now here at home and a military so stretched that we are in over our heads and paying a dear price. 

I have no way of knowing all of the intelligence that our admistration has that leads to the decisions being made and therefore, want to be careful about the way I question the military's use.  But I do know the cost of our adventurism is high, our respect in the world is low, and we have MAJOR problems here at home to solve demanding appropriate use of our limited resources. 

God bless our troops and I know we all pray that these efforts are worthwhile.

Marko's Take


  1. Thank you Marko, for this insightful and thoughtful article. You're right of course, we don't have access to the intelligence networks our government uses to make decisions. Many within the CIA have gone public stating it's not all it needs to be, lacking ground operatives. It's quite a challenge, trying to protect our own borders and assist with the needs of others. Much thought is needed. Followed by wise action.

  2. I appreciate your stance on not making any assumptions as to why the decision to use the military as it has been is the right thing or not due to your admission that you would be working with less than all the information. This leads me to believe that you are a thinker and not just a fringe element trying to push a political agenda. Very refreshing.

  3. Addendum: According to articles released by CNN and Bloomberg on Friday, November 13, the suicide rate among "active" personnel is expected to set an all time record. Another study by CBS in 2005 found then that the suicide rates for Vets was 2 to 4 times the overall population. This is very telling of not only how ineptly the War is being carried out, but the tremendous human toll it is exerting.


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