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November 20, 2019

Cost of war


November 20, 2019

While the US has made a great deal of its war on terror and what it terms its success in defeating extremist militancy in many countries, there is little discussion on what this war has cost. According to a new report put forward by a Brown University institute, 801,000 lives have been lost in the fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the other places. Around 42 percent of those killed were civilians. The indirect deaths which come as a result of war, generally in the form of hunger, deprivation and lack of access to medical care are perhaps impossible to count. However, experts who have compiled the report put the total deaths at 3.1 million or more. This number is around 200 times higher than the number of US personnel killed during the operations in various countries

The financial cost of this war is put at $6.4 trillion according to two reports put out by academic institutions and a think-tank. The authors point out that this money could have been used to feed people, reconstruct countries and provide the basic necessities of life to millions on this planet who do not possess them. It has also been pointed out that war in fact causes greater loss as water pipes and infrastructure is destroyed, making day to day life much harder for people in battle zone. Comments on the reports point out that within the US politicians and activists from both Conservative and Democratic Party are calling for an end to these wars. They argue that the government must be pushed towards diplomacy rather than rushing into wars which cause only more deaths and perpetuate the cycle of violence.

The reports also point out that the money spent on what are termed as contingency operations take a huge chunk out of the Pentagon budget, which is also intended to provide medical and disability care for veterans. They ask whether the amount spent of wars can in any ways be justified. The answer is obvious. The wars fought since 2001 have achieved almost nothing at all. Countries where the fighting was conducted remain in the grip of conflicts and militancy. The world has pulled further and further apart with specific groups seen as ‘the enemy’. In some ways, this is a repeat of the pattern witnessed during the cold war. We should have learnt our lessons by now. War of any kind creates only more hatred.

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