By Hwaa Irfan
In the last 10 years, never has so much been done to convince the whole world, of an agenda that has cost so many lives, displaced so many people, have used and excluded the public wholesale, while the public pays the price, changed the global economic system and natural resources to favour a few, changed the structure of so many governments, and to undermine the sovereignty of so many countries, in the of something that has brought the world to its knees. It has been called the “war-on-terror”, but it has been a war on the minds of every man, woman and child, to secure the powerful few. To survive, many went into denial, but many had no choice as they were killed, maimed, and lost control.
The title is partly taken from the Farewell Address of former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower, which served as an introductory quote of a June 2011 study produced by the Eisenhower Research Project of the Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. Involving over 20 economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists, they revealed in their final product the astronomical cost of the so-called “war-on-terrorism,” which dwarfs WWII.
The questions were asked:
– What have the wars that the U.S. has undertaken since September 2001 cost in blood and treasure, opportunities lost and possibilities foreclosed?
– What are the ongoing consequences for the people who fought them, for bystanders, for democracy, human rights, and civil liberties, for the American economy, budget, and the deficit?
Truths were acknowledged like:
– The U.S. funding of Pakistan since 2001 for their role in the war-on-terror that are not calculated as equally the fatalities and the consequence of displacement which far outweighs that of Afghanistan.
– The conservation human body count in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The Human Cost
The estimated death toll given in the report for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is a moderate 257,655 (from civilians, combatants, and non-combatants). Of the 257,655, 6051 were U.S. soldiers. The report authors are aware how controversial the issue is because of those who have dedicated a good portion of the last 10 years counting lives being exterminated like flies. 1, 463, 948 is the total given by Information House of which 7, 358 are U.S. soldiers and Occupied Forces for Iraq and Afghanistan alone. The fact that the world has looked on the complex situation in Pakistan as one of its own making probably contributes to the lack of data on the human cost.
One cannot help notice how the statistics are organized, with U.S. soldiers and contractors at the top, and the civilians towards the bottom. On cannot also help notice how the statistics the wounded convey an image that does not reflect the reality on the ground for the civilians, and drastically underestimates the number of people and families displaced.
Essentially the Cost of War is about the cost to America, which on the psychological level, which is one that has often been underplayed:
“While American soldiers and their families have demonstrated great resilience, the burdens of these wars that have fallen on veterans and their families include higher rates of suicide and mental illness, increased drug and alcohol dependence, higher rates of violence including homicide and child abuse and neglect (the latter both among the parent left behind and by the returning veteran), high risk behaviors that have resulted in elevated numbers of car crashes and drug overdoses, elevated levels of homelessness and divorce, and clinical levels of stress among the children. There has already been attention to the rising suicide rates among U.S. soldiers and veterans. In 2003, the year of the invasion of Iraq, suicides across the DoD accounted for more deaths than combat. Despite suicide awareness campaigns across the services, across the DoD suicide outnumbered combat deaths again in 2008.”
This should not be so surprising though ugly it may be, but not a consideration for those who orchestrate these wars without care or thought that there would be a fallout on one’s backyard shattering the illusion of the American dream sending thousands to the soup kitchen to survive. Societies around the world have been ripped apart, and turned upside-down, in the name of something that is a construct of the imagination of a powerful few. As long as the truth remains in the hands of a few, the human cost does not matter as long as the power to control the minds and behaviours of peoples, which in turn will sustain their positions of control.
The Financial Cost
The Cost of War study begins with a quote from former President Dwight Eisenhower 1961 Farewell Address which reads:
“As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
“As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”
The financial cost has not just been the monies spent directly on these wars, but has essentially cost the whole global economic system. These wars have never been about politics, religion, or an offence committed, it has always been about capitalists maintaining a crumbling capitalism.
The level of irresponsibility in global governance over the past long 10 years have indeed mortgaged the lives of tax payers in the West, who have paid for these wars to be only told their employment is no longer required, their homes, education and health is no longer affordable, and they have to eat food that has been engineered, because the price of normal food is now for the rich. Many of these taxpayers have never realized that the bombs that have been dropped in another country is the other-side of their coin!
The Cost of War calculated a “U.S$2.3 and 2.6 trillion in constant 2011 dollars” has been spent to date on the wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan. They estimate the final cost will be a shocking U.S$3.7 and U.S$4.4 trillion – more than WWII. However, one is not sure on what basis the final cost is calculated meaning where the projected end of these wars arise from. If there is an end date, does this mean that the undeclared goals will be met? Where is the rest of the world within those goals?
Wars financed by borrowing, that did not stimulate the desired economic growth (0.9%) in the U.S., added U.S$1.3 trillion to the U.S. national debt, raised interest rates by .3%, interest payments that exceeded the cost of war on Afghanistan and Iraq for 2011, interest rates that have fanned out to all aspects of life for the average person.
Since WWI, oil has been the goal, and the means to holding power. In peacetime, the U.S. Department of Defense is U.S’s largest consumer of oil (4.6 billion gallons of fuel annually), and in war the consumption rockets. These wars have also devastated the economies of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan while making enormous oil revenues for the corporations concerned, while inflating the cost of oil for everyone else, including all industries affected by it. Possessed by this neurosis, the next step is the Middle East and North Africa, but the difference is that the global economy is not what it was when they conceived the idea of “war-on-terrorism. Neither is the global population as naive, though all too many find it easier to believe the “information” being pumped out by the corporate media about Libya, Syria, and Yemen. The real terror is the one whereby citizens of the West are paying the price, as their civil liberties are being abused, while the sovereignty of any country that has what the powers that be wants is violated, along with the human rights of the citizens of these countries. It was with great hindsight that former President Bush placed the U.S. military and allies under immunity as the atrocities they commit ensue:
“Lawsuits against the U.S. for the violations of human rights and international law associated with its rendition and torture practices have been unsuccessful.12 Courts have accepted the Obama and Bush Administrations’ invocation of the “state secrets doctrine,” but critics say the judicial created “privilege” should not be allowed to shield the government from embarrassment or exposure of wrongdoing.”
They have uprooted communities, destroyed homes, and have polluted environments to the extent that the Earth is in shock, degrading the land left as they move on. However, the report falls short of many things which it has listed, but most importantly, it does not make the most obvious recommendation, which many American citizens would support 100%. Instead the report sustains the mess it describes with 13 recommendations including:
- Recording all war related deaths and injuries in the war zones; this includes the deaths, injuries and illnesses of US troops (not just those killed in the war zone or medically evacuated) and contractors (whether U.S. citizens or not), civilians in the war zones, enemy combatants, and prisoners. Records should be completed promptly and systematically and made public on a regular basis;
- Continuing to track the war-related deaths (e.g. suicide) and injuries of troops after deployment, whether or not they receive VA treatment;
- Fully disclosing the number and nature of detentions at home and abroad and in a timely way;
People Behind the Report
Not mentioned in the report, is ‘former’ democrat – pro-Obama, Susan Eisenhower , granddaughter of former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower, who was a democrat-cum-republican. Eisenhower is President of the Eisenhower Group Inc., which is a think tank. She has served on the U.S. Dept. Of Energy’s ‘Blue Ribbon Baker-Cutler Commission’ formed by Obama to review American funded nuclear non-proliferation programs in Russia. Eisenhower as served as an advisor for the Department of Energy.
Grand-daughter of former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower co-authored The Making of a Soviet Scientist, the scientist being Soviet Nobel Laureate, physicist, human rights advocate, and anti-Afghan war protester, Andrei Sakharov. Eisenhower was the author of Breaking Free, a Memoir of Love and Revolution, published in 1995. She co-edited a book, Islam and Central Asia: An Enduring Legacy or an Evolving Threat?
Eisenhower has been a consultant for Fortune 100, Fortune 500 companies, companies in the energy field, and wrote extensively before 9/11 on nuclear and space issues. Served two terms on the NASA Advisory Council, and joined the International Space Station Management and Cost Evaluation Task Force. She has chaired the Eisenhower Institute’s Leadership and Public Policy Programs, which specializes in training leaders for the future. Eisenhower has served the National Academy of Sciences’ standing Committee on International Security and Arms Control for 8 years.
These are just some of Eisenhower’s strengths, which may throw light on why the report was done now with the recommendations that it made! Susan Einsenhower is also Chair emeritus for the Eisenhower Institute, the “centre for leadership and public policy that prepares the successor generations to perfect the promise of the nation.”
“Costs of War.” http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2011/06/warcosts