There are many reasons we shouldn’t be waging wars in the Middle East. But one of the most compelling at this point should be that we just can’t afford it. According to a recent study, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will have a final cost of nearly $6 trillion:
“As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives,” wrote expert Anthony H. Cordesman in “The FY2016 Defense Budget and US Strategy: Key Trends and Data Points.” . . .
Using his calculations with others, Cordesman put the cost of the ongoing conflicts at $4-$6 trillion. He estimated that $3.37 trillion has already been spent.
That number is astronomical, in case you were wondering. In today’s dollars, the US spent less than that total on the entirety of WWII. That was a world war, mind you, and one where our financial investment was vital to Allied victory. Vietnam, which is a much closer analog of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, cost the United States $738 billion in today’s dollars. Many consider Vietnam to be the quintessence of an interminable, unwinnable war. Yet Vietnam wasn’t anywhere near as interminable (or unwinnable) as our current war in the Middle East.
And let’s consider what we have actually accomplished with this war in the Middle East. Precisely not a whole lot. ISIS is taking over the areas we “liberated,” terrorism is a constant and growing threat, governments favorable to the US are shrinking or being overthrown, our troops have never had lower morale (even in Vietnam), and we are making almost no headway.
Perhaps it is time to admit that the war in the Middle East has been an abject failure. Should we keep trying to fix it by spending more money and spilling more American blood? No, I think it would be better to cut our losses, save some money, support our troops, and protect our homeland. Will the US actually do this? Of course not. When we are failing at something, that’s just a sign we need to keep spending more money along the same lines. You know, like insane people.