The Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University has just completed a major study of the real cost of the decade-old War on Terror. They state:
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 at the Watson Institute. If these wars continue, they are on track to require at least another $450 billion in Pentagon spending by 2020.
There's more at the link. Their research may be viewed at the project's Web site.
I have no doubt that the costs listed by the researchers are substantially correct - both financially, and in terms of the appalling human toll. However, there's one question they don't try to answer . . . in fact, they don't even bother to ask it: yet, it's fundamental. That question is:
and the free nations of the world,
if the War on Terror had NOT been fought?
I suspect not many will think of that question. Perhaps it takes a military background to ask it . . . I don't know. Nevertheless, I submit that the cost of not doing anything, of letting terrorists get away with their crimes, would have been far worse.
I agree that certain aspects of the War on Terror were badly planned and implemented, and might profitably have never been attempted: but that's speaking with the benefit of hindsight. If I'd been in the seat of power at the time, and known then what our leaders knew at that time . . . I honestly don't know whether I might not have made the same decisions. I think those in command can legitimately be criticized for not reacting faster to changed circumstances and conditions, and adjusting their plans to take account of such changes: but again, would I have done any better if I'd been in their shoes? I like to think I would . . . but I can be misled, and make mistakes, as easily as the next man.
What say you, readers?