Why We Can\’t Have Nice Things

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher.

Washington increased military benefits in late 2001 as the nation went to war 1, seeking to quickly bolster its talent pool and expand its ranks. Those decisions and the protracted nation-building efforts launched in both countries will generate expenses for years to come, Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor, wrote in the report that was released Thursday.

“As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives,” the report says. “The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.”

Bilmes said the United States has spent almost $2 trillion already for the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those costs, she said, are only a fraction of the ultimate price tag. The biggest ongoing expense will be providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans of the two conflicts.

“Historically, the bill for these costs has come due many decades later,” the report says, noting that the peak disbursement of disability payments for America’s warriors in the last century came decades after the conflicts ended. “Payments to Vietnam and first Gulf War veterans are still climbing.” 2

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Show 2 footnotes

  1. Ed. Note: Neither military action was a ‘war’; again America has not declared war on another nation since 1944. These illegal invasions and occupations were instead the unilateral decision of a rogue White House, abetted by a spineless Congress and profited only connected corporations: Halliburton and other PMSCs come to mind.
  2. seriously this is why we can’t have nice things; it’s not because Social Security is going ‘bankrupt’; it’s not because of outlays for other ‘entitlement’ programs; it’s not because of ObamaCare. It’s because those at the highest reaches of the US Government make decisions that benefit only themselves and their friends. That’s why the next two following generations of Americans also won’t have nice things.

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