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Cost Of War




The immediate purpose of war is death and destruction. There are many excuses for war, many arguments for promoting wars, but war itself has only one purpose, to kill those whom the war is waged against, to destroy their property and to inflict as much suffering and grief as possible upon them.

Wars are always huge costly enterprises that consume enormous amounts of resources and manpower, but they produce nothing of value, and destroy everything they touch. The cost of war is total, and the cost can never be recouped.

The cost of war is twofold: the cost of waging the war, and the cost of all that is lost and destroyed by it—in the end it is the innocent that bare those costs, not those who initiate or prosecute the wars.

The true costs of war are mostly hidden, intentionally covered up and obfuscated, even promoted is something good for the economy. Most people do not want to know or see what the wars they support truly cost, or who is baring that terrible cost.

Money and Resources Costs

Whether actually waging them, or only preparing for them, the world spends over $1.5 trillion on war each year.

In the U.S. the largest single item in the federal budget is for the military, between $880 billion and $1.03 trillion, roughly one quarter of the entire $3.5 trillion budget for 2010, which is the equivalent of all the military spending by all other countries combined, or 50% of the world's military spending. Compare the next four largest military budgets: China (6.6% of world share), France (4.2%), UK (3.8%), and Russia (3.5%)

The entire $1.03 trillion U.S. budget comes from taxes, directly, or indirectly (in the form of inflated dollars or future indebtedness). The military produces nothing of economic value. It is the workers and companies that actually produce products and services which have their incomes and profits confiscated to finance war and war preparations, and those lost profits and wages can never be recovered. It is impossible to estimate the extent of the damage military spending does to the economy, or extent to which all individuals are impoverished by it.

In addition to the direct economic cost of the military, is the much more difficult cost in terms of resources consumed by the military and the arms industry. For example, the world's biggest consumer of fuel are the world's militaries. "The U.S. military burns more than 10.6 million gallons" of fuel every day. [Though only through 2007, please see The US military oil consumption.]

Military consumption of everything from chemicals to steel is nearly impossible to estimate. Even food and clothing are consumed in huge quantities by the military. It is true, those wearing the clothes and eating the food would have to wear clothes and eat food even if not in the military, but they would have to earn the money to buy them by working in some productive line of employment. Remember, the military produces nothing of value, it only consumes and destroys things of value.

War Costs to Invaders

I'm using the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions to illustrate the cost of war, but any wars could have been used.

The numbers mean nothing, and probably none are true. Not even government and DOD figures match. At best, they only illustrate the magnitude of the death and destruction of these wars.

The figures are as of August 31, 2010. The military deaths are for US military only. There have been thousands of coalition troops, contractors, and journalists killed and wounded as well (at least 18,000).

In Iraq:
Total dead: 4418
Total wounded: 31929
Iraqi civilian deaths: 1.3 million

In Afghanistan
Total dead: 1,192
Total wounded: 7,819
Afghan civilian deaths 8,813

The trouble with numbers is, they do not tell the truth, they do not tell what the death or wounding of any individual actually is. They do not show the horror of it, or the grief it brings to all those who are not killed or wounded, but have to live without their dead loved ones, or with those half-persons that were wounded, watching them suffer for the rest of their lives.

I will present some real examples that illustrate the horrors, but I want to emphasize one other thing. This is not about politics, and it is not about so-called atrocities, or mis-treatment of prisoners, or the use of so-called illegal weapons. I regard the emphasis on such things as deceptive, as though war could be waged in some non-offensive humane way.

The fact that there is a disproportionately large number of civilian deaths and causalities, while horrible enough and very wrong, is also a distortion. Would these wars be OK if there were no civilian deaths, or no "collateral" damage? Of course they would not. It's war and the beliefs and psychology and money that makes them possible that is wrong.

Individual Human Costs of War

I tried to find a way to organize these stories, but in the end gave up. There is no way to organize the chaos of war.


"Since 2004, nearly 13,000 U.S. service personnel wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq have been evacuated to Landstuhl, the largest American-run medical facility outside the U.S. "The complexity and severity of wounds are also increasing, said Army Col. John M. Cho, a chest surgeon who is the hospital's commander. On a medical rating scale, the number of patients above a level considered extremely critical has increased 190 percent in the last two months, he said. "On some occasions, a wounded soldier or Marine on life support will be brought to Landstuhl. Life is sustained long enough for family members to arrive from the U.S. "Navy Cmdr. Joseph Sheldon, one of nine chaplains at the hospital, meets them and guides them through the emotional process of saying farewell. It is not uncommon, he said, for them to ask the unanswerable question: How can a merciful God have let this happen? "I tell them truthfully that I don't know the answer," said Sheldon, who deployed with Marines during the assault on Baghdad in 2003. "I just know that I continue to believe God is good because I see so much of his goodness." The Emphasis is mine. Apparently thousands of wounded and dying men and women is his idea of "goodness." No wonder there are wars.
"Wounds of Iraq war: US struggles with surge of returning veterans

"While body armor and improved equipment have helped keep the death toll down in the two wars—just over 4,400 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq and 1,200 in Afghanistan—an unusually large number of soldiers have returned home missing arms and legs. Many more have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—the signature wounds of the wars."


Iraq, Afghanistan "veteran patients - including those who didn't seek care until their return home - shot up to 400,304 (from 263,909 in December 2007). [This is a 2009 article.]

For the thousands of soldiers flooding the VA, mental illness tops the list of ailments. Forty-five percent of VA patients have already been diagnosed with mental health conditions, including a startling 105,000 diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


And here is a voice of experience:

"I cannot help but think of the young men and women who have been wounded in the war in Iraq. They have been coming home now for almost three years, flooding Walter Reed, Bethesda, Brooke Army Medical Center and veterans hospitals all across the country. Paraplegics, amputees, burn victims, the blinded and maimed, shocked and stunned, brain-damaged and psychologically stressed, over 16,000 of them, a whole new generation of severely maimed is returning from Iraq ....

"I, like most other Americans, have occasionally seen them on TV or at the local veterans hospital, but for the most part they remain hidden, like the flag-draped caskets of our dead, returned to Dover Air Force Base in the darkness of night as this administration continues to pursue a policy of censorship, tightly controlling the images coming out of that war and rarely ever allowing the human cost of its policy to be seen.

"Mosul, Fallouja, Basra, Baghdad, a roadside bomb, an RPG, an ambush, the bullets cracking all around them, the reality that they are in a war, that they have suddenly been hit. No more John Wayne-Audie Murphy movie fantasies. No more false bravado, stirring words of patriotism, romantic notions of war or what it might really mean to be in combat, to sacrifice for one's country. All that means nothing now. The reality has struck, the awful, shocking and frightening truth of what it really means to be hit by a bullet, an RPG, an improvised explosive device, shrapnel, a booby trap, friendly fire. They are now in a life-and-death situation and they have suddenly come face to face with the foreign policy of their own nation. The initial shock is wearing off; the painful reality is beginning to sink in, clearly something terrible has happened, something awful and inexplicable.

All the conditioning, all the discipline, shouting, screaming, bullying and threatening verbal abuse of their boot camp drill instructors have now disappeared in this one instant, in this one damaging blow. All they want to do now is stay alive, keep breathing, somehow get out of this place anyway they can. People are dying all around them, someone has been shot and killed right next to them and behind them but all they can really think of at this moment is staying alive.

"....

"They are in the intensive-care ward now, the place where they will be operated on ... There is the swirl of darkness and soon they awaken to screams all around them. The dead and dying are everywhere. There are things here you can never forget, images and sounds and smells that you will never see on TV or read about in the newspapers. The black pilot dying next to me as the corpsman and nurse tried furiously to save him, pounding on his chest with their fists as they laughed and joked trying to keep from going insane. The Green Beret who died of spinal meningitis, the tiny Vietnamese nun handing out apples and rosary beads to the wounded, the dead being carted in and out like clockwork, 19- and 20-year-olds.

"There is the long flight home packed with the wounded all around you, every conceivable and horrifying wound you could imagine. Even the unconscious and brain-dead whose minds have been blown apart by bullets and shrapnel make that ride with you, because we are all going home now, back to our country. And this is only the beginning.

"....

"I cannot help but wonder what it will be like for the young men and women wounded in Iraq. What will their homecoming be like? I feel close to them. Though many years separate us we are brothers and sisters. We have all been to the same place. For us in 1968 it was the Bronx veterans hospital paraplegic ward, overcrowded, understaffed, rats on the ward, a flood of memories and images, I can never forget; urine bags overflowing onto the floor. It seemed more like a slum than a hospital. Paralyzed men lying in their own excrement, pushing call buttons for aides who never came, wondering how our government could spend so much money (billions of dollars) on the most lethal, technologically advanced weaponry to kill and maim human beings but not be able to take care of its own wounded when they came home. [Emphasis mine.]

[Read the whole article. The Forgotten Wounded of Iraq]


Nearly 1,600 civilian workers -- both Americans and foreign nationals -- have died in the two war zones. Thousands more have been injured. (More than 5,200 U.S. service members have been killed and 35,000 wounded.)


"Dr. Imbascini just returned from a four-month deployment to Germany, where he treated the worst of the U.S. war wounded. He said that an extremely high number of wounded soldiers are coming home with their arms or legs amputated. Imbascini said he amputated the genitals of one or two men every day. [Emphasis mine.]

"'I walk into the operating room and the general surgeons are doing their work and there is the body of this Navy SEAL, which is a physical specimen to behold," he told IPS. "And his abdomen is open, they're exploring both intestines. He's missing both legs below the knee, one arm is blown off, he's got incisions on his thighs to relieve the pressure on the parts of the legs that are hopefully gonna survive and there's genital injuries, and you just want to cry.'

And this from the same story:

"On Christmas, for example, Army Reservist James Dean barricaded himself in his father's home with several weapons and threatened to kill himself. After a 14-hour standoff with authorities, Dean was killed by a police officer after he aimed a gun at another officer, authorities told the Washington Post.

"Veterans for America's Robinson told IPS that Dean, who had already served 18 months in Afghanistan, had been diagnosed with PTSD. He had just been informed that his unit would be sent to Iraq on Jan. 14.

"'We call that suicide by cop,' Robinson said."


300,000 vets have mental problem, 320,000 had brain injuries Wonderful what war does!

The Wars That Keep On Killing

VA Hid Suicide Risk, Internal E-Mails Show

"Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilities."

"He wrote: there 'are about 18 suicides per day among America's 25 million veterans.'"


"Jesse Charles Huff walked up to the Veterans Affairs Department's Medical Center on Friday morning wearing U.S. Army fatigues and battling pain from his Iraq war wounds and a recent bout with depression.

"The 27-year-old Dayton man had entered the center's emergency room about 1 a.m. Friday and requested some sort of treatment. But Huff did not get that treatment, police said, and about 5:45 a.m. he reappeared at the center's entrance, put a military-style rifle to his head and twice pulled the trigger."


After returning from Iraq in late 2005, Jonathan Schulze spent every day struggling not to fall apart. When a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic turned him away last month, he lost the battle. The 25-year-old Marine from Stewart, Minn., had told his parents that 16 men in his unit had died in two days of battle in Ramadi. At home, he was drinking hard to stave off the nightmares. Though he managed to get a job as a roofer, he was suffering flashbacks and panic attacks so intense that he couldn't concentrate on his work. Sometimes, he heard in his mind the haunting chants of the muezzin—the Muslim call to prayer that he'd heard many times in Iraq. Again and again, he'd relive the moments he was in a Humvee, manning the machine gun, but helpless to save his fellow Marines. "He'd be seeing them in his own mind, standing in front of him," says his stepmother, Marianne.

....

"She watched Jonathan, slumped on the couch, as he talked to the doctor. "I heard him say the same thing: I'm suicidal, I feel lost, I feel hopelessness," she says. Four days later Schulze got drunk, wrapped an electrical cord around a basement beam in his home and hanged himself. A friend he telephoned while tying the noose called the police, but by the time officers broke down the door, Schulze was dead."


Kort Jensen's wife, Laura Becherini Jensen, weeps as she gives her tribute to her late husband. After two combat tours in Iraq, where he was wounded twice and received a Bronze Star for valor, Kort Jensen came home a broken man. Jensen killed himself on July 31 following a years-long struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.


One other way it keeps on killing:

"Since OPERATION Iraqi Freedom began in 2003, more than 700 US soldiers have been infected or colonized with Acinetobacter baumannii. A significant number of additional cases have been found in the Canadian and British armed forces, and among wounded Iraqi civilians. The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology has recorded seven deaths caused by the bacteria in US hospitals along the evacuation chain. Four were unlucky civilians who picked up the bug at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, while undergoing treatment for other life-threatening conditions. Another was a 63-year-old woman, also chronically ill, who shared a ward at Landstuhl with infected coalition troops."

Censored War

One reason war is possible, why people who would normally be opposed to evil can be stirred up to support it, is because the true nature of war is covered up. There are very few pictures of the real horrors of war, and the few that exist only portray that horror in terms of the "other side." You'll not find any pictures of the mangled bodies and bloody body parts of any American or Coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is no accident.

This story is from 2005, but nothing has changed:

"In a week in June when 15 GIs were killed in Iraq (6/13-19/05), the war pictures in the New York Times (6/19/05, 6/20/05) featured dazed Iraqis after a suicide bombing, a Marine patrolling, the twisted remains of a vehicle, wounded children, a civilian casualty in a morgue. No photographs featured American casualties—a typical absence in U.S. coverage of the war."

This is another 2005 story, but nothing has changed here either:

"In January 2000, then Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Henry Shelton told an audience at Harvard that before committing troops, politicians should make sure a war can pass what he called the "Dover test," so named for the Air Force base in Delaware where fallen soldiers' coffins return. Shelton said politicians must weigh military actions against whether the public is "prepared for the sight of our most precious resource coming home in flag-draped caskets."

"It's widely known that on the eve of the Iraq invasion in 2003, the Bush administration moved to defy the math and enforced a ban on photographs of the caskets arriving at Dover, or at any other military bases. But few realize that it seems to be pursuing the same strategy with the wounded, who are far more numerous. Since 9/11, the Pentagon's Transportation Command has medevaced 24,772 patients from battlefields, mostly from Iraq. But two years after the invasion of Iraq, images of wounded troops arriving in the United States are almost as hard to find as pictures of caskets from Dover. That's because all the transport is done literally in the dark, and in most cases, photos are banned." [Emphasis mine.]

I don't often quote the Bible, but this verse certainly seems appropriate here: "... men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." [John 3:19] If these wars are such glorious and noble things, why are they trying to hide their true nature?

Both self-imposed and government imposed, the Media is complicit in hiding the true nature of the war from the public to maintain public support for it.

Images like the above are almost never shown, and when they slip through, are immediately removed.

"A letter in February to the New York Times (2/3/07) from the commander of the Multinational Corps in Iraq revealed new censorship regulations prohibiting portrayals of U.S. casualties in the media. The tightened rules have been in effect since May 2006, but no media outlet with embedded photographers reported on or objected to the censorship of images.

"In his letter, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno protested a January 29 article that portrayed the death of Sgt. Hector Leija during a house-to-house search in Baghdad ('Man Down' by Damien Cave with photo by Robert Nickelsberg). Odierno expressed 'profound disappointment in the New York Times' decision to publish a photograph of a mortally wounded American soldier.' He called the photo (and an online video) 'offensive,' and asserted that the 'clear depiction is also directly counter to the written agreement made by the reporter and the photographer before publication.'

"The paper responded with apologies to Leija's family, followed up with a conversation between Times editor Bill Keller and Odierno, and apparently removed the photos from their website (though the video is still available). It was unclear why the Times felt a need to apologize; the article and photos were most respectful. But the images were also unusual—even when they were still allowed.

"Throughout the Iraq War, media have rarely shown images of U.S. battlefield casualties, almost never with visible pain or blood. Such restraint provides tacit support for the war. Vietnam showed us that images of the suffering of U.S. troops foster protest." [Emphasis mine.]

I've decided not to include any more photographs of wounded and dead Americans. My aim is not to stir up feelings, but to stimulate thought. I will just include this link, Caring for the Wounded in Iraq ? A Photo Essay, with a warning some pictures are gruesome, and the reminder that these are not exceptional, but typical, and there have been over 40,000 wounded so far.

Innocent Human Cost

Part of the governments war propaganda are the names given to their military adventures, Enduring Freedom (so far responsible for 8,813 Afghan civilian deaths) and Iraqi Freedom (so far responsible for 1.3 million Iraqi civilian deaths). They might more appropriately have been named Iraqi Genocide and Enduring Slaughter.

As horrible and unforgivably savage as these civilian deaths (and many more horribly wounded) are, it is not because of them these wars are wrong—they would be just as wrong if none but combatants were killed and wounded. What is much worse is that fact the killing, maiming, and destruction of so many innocent men, women, children, and property is mostly covered up and hidden.

Here are examples:

Iraq conflict claims 34 civilian lives each day as 'anarchy' beckons [2005 story]

Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children

Is "A Million Iraqi Dead" an exaggeration? It could be, but knowing how the government and MSM have intentionally covered up every negative aspect of the these wars they could, it is much easier to believe the large number.

The US is now busy bringing the same blessings to Afghanistan. "A local official Abdul Basir Khan said yesterday that he had collected the names of 147 people who had died, making it the worst such incident since the US intervened in Afghanistan started in 2001."

"Cursor" was a far left online site [now defunct], but facts are facts. A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States' Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan.

So now let Pakistan share in the joys of U.S. war. US Drone Strike Destroys House Full of Children in Pakistan

"The combined toll from the blast was 20 people killed, with at least four women and three children among the slain. At least 13 other civilians were also reported wounded, including a number of other children."

"When pressed during a previous visit Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shrugged off concerns about the civilians, saying only 'there's a war going on.'"

The Pictures

The pictures add nothing to the truth or horror of the evil of these wars. I intended to provide the pictures themselves, on another page, but no one needs to be revolted to understand the evil of war.

Nevertheless, I provide the links to following sites which do have the kind of pictures that Americans, who have no idea what war, especially the current ones, really are, need to see. This is what Americans are doing and what your leaders are hiding from the American people. Unfortunately, all these sites are leftist, or worse, and the motives for displaying the pictures are not the best. Ironically, where their ideals to prevail, there would even more war.

Dead and wounded.

War Pictures—very gruesome.

Children

These are more common war photos showing some destruction and general unpleasantness of it all.

There is one more thing war destroys, it destroys the souls of those who must carry them out, the military men and woman who are immersed in the daily exposure to death and destruction. It brutalizes them, and turns them into brutes themselves.

Only those of the strongest character can escape that brutalization. It happens in all wars, but in most wars it is hidden. It would be hidden in these wars too, except the brutalization is so severe, the brutes proudly photograph what they have done.

The government tried to suppress that too, but this time it got out. We have the photographs from Abu Ghraib, and they are horrible, and most horrible of all because they illustrate how war destroys men and women from the inside, turning them into monsters.

If you've seen these picture, any of them, you don't need to see them again. But for those who perhaps cannot believe that young American men and woman can be turned into such monsters, perhaps a look will convince them.

Abu Ghraib 1

Abu Ghraib 2

Abu Ghraib 3

Not A Protest

I am anti-war, opposed to all that war is, but I do not protest war, because it will not end them. Wars will only end when young men and woman refuse to fight, and when decent people who would never think of harming another individual stop supporting them. Those same people all think like Hillary, there is some magic in the phrase, "there's a war going on," that cancels all values, all truth, and all that a person knows is wrong and evil, that somehow turns the deliberate killing and maiming of people and the destruction of their property into something glorious and virtuous.

Perhaps if they understood the true cost of war, to themselves and everyone participating in it, they could be woken from their slumber (or trance) and see the horrible thing they are supporting. No one gains from war except a very small number of very evil men. The next article will look at the only one's who profit from war—who live for it and promote it.

—Reginald Firehammer (09/10/10)