Nicholas Krystoff of the NY Times has a great article on the cost of the US’ longest war / military occupation. It plays on an angle that is, if you ask me, kind of missing the point; but it appeals to the more xenophobic of our population, and it turns out that there are a lot more of them than which most of us would be comfortable. To me, the stronger appeal of stopping the war is in that it’s causing more unnecessary harm than good. I could imagine a case being made for it if that were not the case even if the cost were great.
He starts off with a pretty simple fact:
The war in Afghanistan will consume more money this year alone than we spent on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War — combined.
Now you’re probably thinking that’s an obvious statement since he’s probably only talking about the cost of those wars in terms of the rate of inflation of those times. But those are all adjusted for inflation before you even combine them, according to this report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service. And that’s just this year – we’ve already had 8 other years leading up to this one.
Some other comparisons of costs really bring home the waste of the military occupation of Afghanistan. The money spent on deploying a single soldier there could be used to build 20 schools. A single cruise missile’s price tag is equivalent to 11 schools. And really, which is more corrosive to fundamentalist Islam: Cruise missiles that kill families and give recruiting slogans to al Qaeda, or education? As long as we’re not talking about the Wahabi madrasahs that get funded by outsiders and the Taliban in the absence of secular education, the latter’s bound to work and the former is bound to fail.
And it has failed, and failed hard. Today’s the last day of July, and this month has set a new record for US casualties in Afghanistan. The old record? Well, that was June, 2010. So much for winning their hearts and minds. Obama can fire all the generals and tweak all the knobs he wants, but this war’s going to remain a complete and utter failure when it’s pursued in this way.