Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Costs of War

USA Today has a front page article with this not-so-short title: "Monthly costs of Iraq, Afghan wars approach that of Vietnam Missions’ tabs expand deficit but are still less than 1% of U.S. economy." The point is this, according to the piece: "The monthly bill for the U.S. military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan now rivals Pentagon spending during the Vietnam War, Defense Department figures show." In Vietnam we spent $494 billion during the eight years between 1964 to 1972 (in current dollars, adjusted for inflation; it was actually $111), for an average of $61.8 billion per year. We are now averaging $5 billion per month, "a pace that would bring yearly costs to almost $60 billion." Does this mean anything, because I can feel my feet squishing into a quagmire?

A few paragraphs later the panicked reader finds this out: it turns out that the Vietnam war amounted to
"about 12% of the size of the economy, while now, the costs [in Iraq] are equal to only about 0.5% of the economy, according to Steve Kosiak, a budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments." I wonder what percentage of the economy the Korean war ate up, or World War II? I bet the latter was over 100% of GDP.

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