The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

The Cost of the Afghansitan War

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Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road. the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

Dwight David Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace”

We spent 2.3 trillion dollars - to put it into a bit more manageable number - $300 million dollars a day for 20 years. And what did we get for that investment (I am not even going to get into the lives of US soldiers and the Afghan population that were sacrificed)? Nothing. The middle east is still a hotbed of terrorism, countries are still committing human rights violations on a daily basis, and the Taliban is still in charge.

What could we have done with $300 million dollars a day here at home? Here is a breakdown of cost for each of these possible government programs and the equivalent cost in days of the war in Afghanistan:

Program Days Cost (in Billions)
End hunger 84 $25
End homelessness 66 $20
Universal preschool 667 $200
Fix roads, bridges and dams in the US 1,960 $588
Provide clean drinking water 500 $150
Eliminate tuition at public colleges 3967 $1,190
Totals 7,244 $2,173

If the United States paid for all of these federal programs, we would still have $230 billion left over. Let that sink in for a moment - we could have solved all of our major social problems at home and it would still be cheaper than the 20 year war in Afghanistan. $230 billion dollars cheaper. Was it really worth it? How can anyone possibly justify this?

Why is it that when a plan is proposed to secure the social safety net or to help the US middle class we always ask how are we going to pay for it? Yet we as a nation spend trillions on never ending ideological based wars without blinking an eye. If we can fund a war for 2.3 trillion dollars for two decades, we as a country can find a way to house the homeless, feed the poor and educate our children.

I don’t ever want to hear a politician ever ask how we are going to pay for it.