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Can the U.S. Afford Another War?

Written By: Devan Hue

January 2015

At a time when the Senate, the House, and the President can agree on very little, the idea that they will have some type of "meeting of the minds" about going to war is something of an accomplishment. But the real question here is—can the U.S. afford to go through another war when it can't ensure the very basic needs are provided for its own citizens? Instead, it must cut funding to humanitarian programs in order to pass a budget.

The Gross Federal Debt for 2014 was $17.8 trillion and is anticipated to increase to $18.7 trillion in 2015. This doesn't include "unfunded liabilities" such as Medicare and Social Security, nor does it include any local or state debt. The "Federal Debt per person is about $55,602."

According to an article in Reason, if President Obama gets his wish, the U.S. could be looking to join in yet another Middle Eastern war, in 2015.

President Obama said in his State of the Union Address, "In Iraq and Syria, American leadership—including our military power—is stopping ISIL's advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We're also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL."

Even though the President assures us this will be a "different kind of war," any war is costly—financially and in human lives. Since 2001, these wars, primarily the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, has already cost the American people over $1 trillion dollars. According to the Congressional Research Services report, "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," released on December 8, 2014, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Afghanistan and other counterterror operations received $686 billion;
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) received $815 billion;
  • Operation Noble Eagle (ONE) received $27 billion; and
  • Other "war-designated funding" not in direct relation to the Iraq and/or Afghanistan wars received $81 billion

The department breakdown for receiving these funds is as follows:

  • 92% went to the Department of Defense
  • 6% went to State Department foreign aid programs and diplomatic operations
  • 1% went to the Department of Veteran Administration's veterans medical care
  • 5% went to cross agencies
Back in the USA News Story: Can the U.S. Afford Another War?

As we sit and wait to find out whether we will be sending troops and more financial funds to tackle the ever-growing concerns with ISIL, we should remember that the war in Iraq was supposedly only going to cost the U.S. a "one-time price tag of between $30 billion and $50 billion." Needless to say...the "government's math" was way off base in its calculations.

Of course, we should all be concerned about the growing number of extremist and terror organization like ISIL. America does not want another 9/11 and certainly wants to keep her boarders safe. But can we honestly say we have "won" a war in the Middle East? Will the U.S. ever be able to keep its troops and money out of Middle Eastern conflicts? Are we best utilizing our resources by continuing to invest troops and financial support to countries that have always been in turmoil?


Other Articles of Interest:

Breaking News!

A Quick Look at the New Spending Bill

Do You Listen to Economists? You Shouldn't

Inflation, Deflation, and a Depression...Really?

Hometown Hero: Guy Stephens-Ex-POW/WWII Battle of the Bulge


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