America’s wars cost far more than the Pentagon admits – OpEd – Eurasia Review

By Lipton Matthews *

The United States’ decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan has been met with contempt in some quarters. But so far, most pundits have explored this debacle from a foreign affairs perspective, either bemoaning the decline in U.S. influence or hailing the move as a justified containment of aggressive foreign policy. Both points of view are worth considering. However, Afghanistan and other foreign policy failures should spark a broader debate on the economics of war.

America’s involvement in the war turned out to be quite costly. According to a major 2019 study, from 2001 to 2019, taxpayers incurred a cost of $ 6.4 trillion in US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. A key finding from the report is that the total fiscal burden of the post-9/11 wars will continue to swell as the U.S. government remains committed to paying interest and funding the growing spending on veteran care.

Additionally, estimates compiled by the Pentagon suggest that U.S. military escapades have cost everyone taxpayer $ 7,623 Invariably, international bankers and defense contractors profit from wars, although in the long run war spills over into the entire economy. Yet despite the costs of war, the idea that wars spur innovation is still widely held. This argument has some merit because history shows that the demands of wartime spurred innovations like penicillin, electronic computers, and radar.

The innovations engendered by the throes of war can serve a useful commercial function; However, on the other hand, war diverts the attention of the sharpest minds from solving scientific and business problems to devising life-destroying solutions. According to Nathan Rosenberg, during the Industrial Revolution, the quest to solve trade problems led to the emergence of new products, so in the absence of war, the potential of scientists is deployed for more productive use.

While the war resulted in notable inventions, we will never know about industrial innovations that were never conceptualized because engineers and scientists were busy helping the military-industrial complex. Assuming that involvement in World War II stimulated scientific research, economists Daniel Gross and Bhaven Sampat conclude in a recent report that war-related efforts led to the emergence of technology clusters. Some might confuse this deduction with proof of the innovative inducing effects of war.

Doing so, however, is premature, as there is no guarantee that applications designed to wage war will be relevant to the industry. The construction of military technology is not motivated by the desire to improve the utility of consumers or to create scientific breakthroughs. Such developments are therefore fortuitous. Indeed, commercially viable inventions produced by war are to be celebrated, but it is possible that these innovations are poor substitutes for the actual products that would have been created if the inventors had worked to create commercial or scientific value.

In addition, the innovative effect of world wars could be time dependent. The wars of the twentieth century produced superior inventions due to institutional quality and access to a sophisticated body of scientific research. Likewise, because sectoral links were stronger, recognizing links between industries became a sound business strategy. Readers may argue that this thesis is marred by Geoffrey Packer’s bold text. The military revolution: military innovation and the rise of the West, but the two theses complement each other.

Packer’s landmark study is just one text in a series of studies aimed at responding to the rise of Western civilization. To reach his conclusion, Packer had to question multiple facets of European history and culture. Other regions duly engaged in fierce battles, but their conflicts did not lead to a profound transformation in the art of warfare and military technology. The Europeans built a project dedicated to maximizing the effectiveness of warfare by updating technology, while institutions of a similar caliber did not exist elsewhere. War-induced innovations are determined by the expertise and agenda of those who wage war. Always remember that gunpowder was invented in China, but its full potential was realized in the West.

Likewise, economic analysis challenges the narrative that the United States’ involvement in World War II laid the foundation for postwar economic growth. Instead, the evidence shows that America’s insertion into the war crippled the productivity of the manufacturing sector. Alexander J. Field Explain: “Between 1941 and 1948, total factor productivity in the manufacturing sector declined…. Taking into account the effects on TFP, the labor force, and the stock of physical capital, the impact of WWII on the level and trajectory of post-war US potential output was, on the whole, almost certainly negative. “

In addition, war leads to a decrease in the welfare of consumers. Taxes levied on hapless citizens to fund military spending could have been invested, saved, or spent on commodities to increase consumer utility. An economy is judged on its ability to improve the utility of consumers, and the war economy fails in this regard when taxes decrease utility by decreasing the resources available to citizens. Meanwhile, by applying the law of invisible costs to government, it becomes evident that war spending limits the availability of resources for critical sectors like health and education. By spending resources on unsuccessful wars, politicians indicate that their rhetoric of the poor is nothing but empty talk.

However, in documenting the effects of war, we must remind readers that trauma inflicted on the battlefield negatively affects the well-being of combatants. After returning home, many ex-soldiers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Victims of post-traumatic stress disorder find it difficult to reintegrate into society and find it difficult to maintain social ties. Their inability to adapt to post-war life affects productivity and employability. Unfortunately, the damage suffered by some veterans prevents them from working.

The burden of post-traumatic stress disorder compounded by physical ailments creates a stressful environment for families. As a result, the effects of war reverberate throughout society because the depressed state of veterans can affect the well-being of family members. Caring for sick veterans is expensive, even when they receive philanthropic and government support. As such, it risks depleting scarce resources. Such circumstances depress the productivity of those associated with veterans and restrict the supply of labor when employees leave the workforce to take care of nurses. Finally, taking into account the effects of the war, it should be noted that the affected ex-combatants place additional pressure on the health sector, minimizing the quality of care that could be provided to other patients in their absence.

Politicians and intellectuals may project the rhetoric that wars are in our long-term interest, but the facts show that on average their results are detrimental to the utility and well-being of citizens.

* About the author: Lipton Matthews is a researcher, business analyst and contributor to Merion West, The Federalist, American thinker, Intellectual Takeout,, and Imaginative curator. Visit his YouTube channel, with numerous interviews with a variety of academics, here. He can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter (@matthewslipton).

Source: This article was published by the MISES Institute

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