Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cost of War

The Christian Science Monitor has this little bit on how the Afghan/Iraq war is now the third most costly war in US history. Bainbridge commentary led me to this site. I will say that I completely agree with his standing on this. The cost/benefit analysis really shows the argument is poor.
Despite the relatively small number of American armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan (140,000), the war effort is rapidly shaping up to be the third-most expensive war in United States history.
Now let's stop for a second and think about why the force levels are low. And why the casualty rate of both the military and civilians is low. Oh, and why technology is expensive. Think hard. Even the writer accepts that the casualty rates are low.
That's in money, not in blood and tears. Fatalities from the combined Afghanistan-Iraq conflict now exceed 2,000. American participation in 1917-18 in World War I, a war infamous for its trench-warfare slaughter, resulted in 53,513 US deaths.
And that's all that he says. So compare 53,513 deaths to just over 2000. I think the argument focused on cost alone is fallacious. Bainbridge has additional arguments.

Personally, I think money is a poor ruler to go by. It is an interesting perspective, but doesn't really provide an argument with any strength. The end game for the use of this money is to secure stability in a region where the US has interests. Indeed those interests include oil, which the US is very dependent. Of course, we get no oil from Afghanistan, and only a very small percentage from Iraq. So the Iraq campaign was indirectly due to oil. It was more directly related to stability in the region where we get a lot of our oil. It's also the region where we get most of our terrorists. So, stability again will help with our security.

The reasons for Afghanistan were far different than Iraq. Both ended with a more stable climate in the region. The end stability though will be something that we will have to wait and see.

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