Monday, November 19, 2007

The True Cost of Wars

By Alan Caruba

I read a column by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne today. This man has a reputation as a deep thinker and, one presumes, is influential inside the Beltway.

“It’s time that we subject the Iraq war to the same cost-benefit analysis that we are called upon to impose on other government endeavors,” wrote Dionne. And, immediately, I thought to myself that this was a fairly idiotic idea. What if, halfway through World War II, it was determined that it was costing the United States too much and that we should cease our efforts to defeat the Axis powers? What if we had decided that the Korean conflict was too costly and the whole of the peninsula should be abandoned to the Communists of the North?

The United States has engaged in any number of military endeavors, large and small, and I cannot remember anyone saying, “Hey, this is costing too much money. Let’s quit.”

Wars are expensive. Modern wars are especially expensive. And wars yet to be fought will be even more expensive. But defeat is costly, too. Just ask the Soviet Union, rumored for decades to be a great superpower equal to the United States. Then Ronald Reagan rebuilt our military and made it clear he would outspend any Soviet effort to threaten Western Europe or anywhere else in the world. Then, one day, after being defeated in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

It took some 45 years of a very expensive Cold War, but today it can be argued that it was worth every penny for that fleet of bombers that ceaselessly flew to guard against the prospect of a sneak attack or the Navy that guarded the waters of the world. All the protective actions the United States took, spending billions, in retrospect seem worth it now.

How many times do you think the U.S. should have had to invade Iraq? The first time under Bush 41 was deemed a success in that it restored Kuwait’s sovereignty and denied Saddam Hussein access to its oil reserves. Saddam had previously waged war on Iran for eight years for the same purpose. But Saddam had been permitted to remain in power and the result was the necessity for a second invasion to remove his threat to the region.

Costly? Yes. However, the result is that Saddam’s evil regime is gone. The Shiites and the Sunnis appear to have begun to sort out their differences. And al Qaeda, drawn like moths to a flame, has suffered greatly in Iraq. Initially driven from Afghanistan after 9/11, all the reports out of Iraq suggest how unpopular it is there. Even the Saudis have issued warnings against any more of their young men, the backbone of al Qaeda, leaving to engage in jihad.

So, despite the enormous costs of the Iraq war perhaps history will look back at George W. Bush and the neocons, and conclude it was all worth it.

By way of contrast, more than 40,000 Americans lost their lives on the streets and highways of America last year. That is carnage on a scale that humbles our military casualties in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the United States has continued to undergo a wholesale invasion across our southern border of millions of illegal aliens and, with it, growing and ever more dangerous Mexican drug cartels. Americans spend an estimated $40 billion on illegal drugs every year. Between the illegal aliens and the illegal drugs, the costs to America are in the billions, and we are hard-pressed to read any influential columnist address this “war.”

And, finally, since 9/11 when U.S. troops were sent to Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and to remain there to protect a nascent democracy, and since they invaded Iraq and destroyed the evil Saddam dictatorship, there has not been a single major attack on the United States homeland. You know what I would call that?


BillD said...

I was a weasel during the Vietnam war. I joined ROTC in college, and by the time they finished with me, they didn't need me any more. I got off easy. I'm not proud of it, but that's what I did.

It was hard to see who the enemy was in Vietnam. It's harder now. But, I think there is an enemy, and we'd better pay attentionm

Alan Caruba said...

Not serving in Vietnam is no disgrace. The real disgrace was the policy that sent so many to fight a thoroughly misbegotten war.