Posts Tagged ‘war’

A “regrettable incident”

March 11, 2012

When can “ends” no longer justify the “means”?

At what level does “collateral damage” become unacceptable?

And even after all the blood-letting in Iraq and Afghanistan there are still those who would like to see the US and Israel launch attacks on Iran. Iran dossiers are no doubt being “sexed-up” by those who are worried that not being at war with someone is not sustainable for business.

BBC News:  

‘Rogue’ US soldier kills Afghan civilians

A US soldier in Afghanistan has killed at least 16 civilians and wounded five after entering their homes in Kandahar province, senior local officials say. He left his military base in the early hours of the morning and opened fire in at least two homes; women and children were among the dead.

Nato said it was investigating the “deeply regrettable incident”.

The New York Times does cover this as its top story, but Fox News only reports – as its third story – that a US soldier has been detained for the alleged killing of civilians! It is Sunday and Huff Post  and the Drudge Report – as of 1300 CET – have not even managed to report this “regrettable incident”.

UPDATE! And now Reuters reports that it wasn’t one, lone, disturbed, “rogue” soldier but “a rampage that witnesses said was carried out by American soldiers who were laughing and appeared drunk”.

Iraq and Afghanistan wars have provided a $4 trillion stimulus package

June 30, 2011

The cost of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan are estimated at 225,000 lives and up to $4 trillion in U.S. spending, in a new report  by scholars with the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. 

Nearly 10 years after the declaration of the War on Terror, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan have killed at least 225,000 people, including men and women in uniform, contractors, and civilians. The wars will cost Americans between $3.2 and $4 trillion, including medical care and disability for current and future war veterans, according to a new report by the Eisenhower Research Project based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. If the wars continue, they are on track to require at least another $450 billion in Pentagon spending by 2020.

The group’s Costs of War project, which involved more than 20 economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists, provides new estimates of the total war cost as well as other direct and indirect human and economic costs of the U.S. military response to the 9/11 attacks. The project is the first comprehensive analysis of all U.S., coalition, and civilian casualties, including U.S. contractors. It also assesses many of the wars’ hidden costs, such as interest on war-related debt and veterans’ benefits.

The Costs of War has released its findings online, at, to spur public discussion about America at war.

But the institution of war is vital to a modern economy and massive spending of taxpayer’s money – in whatever form – is nothing more than a stimulus package for any economy. Infrastructure spending , sometimes on little needed infrastructure, is a commonly used vehicle for injecting a stimulus. The building industry for example has a vested interest in promoting bridges and roads to nowhere and the car industry supports public schemes for scrapping old cars. That the weapons industry has a vested interest in promoting wars is obvious. And war is also a commonly used vehicle for propping up or revitalising a flagging economy.

Industrial economies are intimately connected with the production of military technology and military capacity. Because of this, the elimination of war would prove economically devastating as large sectors of society, both in technology and manufacturing, would be wiped out.

After the first gulf war in 1991, the New York Times assessed the economic benefits of the conflict

As a result of the war in the Persian Gulf and its aftermath, the United States is likely to borrow far less from abroad this year than last. Many forecasters expect the deficit in the current account — the broadest gauge of the nation’s imports and exports of goods and services — to shrink sharply in 1991. 

According to a report released by the Department of Commerce yesterday, the United States’ current account deficit amounted to $99.3 billion in 1990, down from $110 billion in 1989. The $99.3 billion figure is the smallest gap since 1984.

Here is how the gulf war could narrow the gap even more: For starters, the invasion of Kuwait helped touch off the recession, cooling the nation’s appetite for imports. Then, the allied victory caused crude prices to plunge, slashing the bill for imported oil.

In addition, America’s allies are contributing about $51 billion to the United States’ war kitty, money that otherwise would have had to have been borrowed from private investors overseas. 

Finally, postwar rebuilding in the Middle East will increase business for American construction companies and equipment producers. United States arms makers are also expected to benefit as countries restock their arsenals.

In fact, if the allies anted up the bulk of their share of war costs right away, analysts said, the United States could become a net foreign lender, at least for a month or two, for the first time in a decade.


But whether the economic, social and political benefits of the $4 trillion and 225,000 lives spent on the War on Terror have been worthwhile is a question that will not be properly answered except in the light of historical perspective. 

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