Hidden Costs of War

At the end of the Clinton Presidency we had a budget surplus and the economy was humming. Then neocons took control of the government and gave away our surplus to a few of the richest Americans in exchange for the false promise of jobs that never appeared. Then they put us back into debt when they borrowed money to pay for an unnecessary war. We all understand some of what happened afterwards.

The budget deficit caused by the war and subsequent destabilization of the entire region, and then the near economic collapse caused by Wall Street deregulation, ballooned the deficit to epic proportions and put millions of Americans out of work. GOP foreign and economic policies were a disaster that we are only now digging out from — and maybe that’s a good thing to remember the next election.However, the real cost of GOP incompetence in Iraq is human, and hidden.That’s the real tragedy.

After WWII the human costs of the war were understood because they were widely shared. Not so in the modern era of war. You may know that between 1999 and now, 5,273 Americans were killed in combat. Did you know that over 128,500 combat veterans have died in the same period from suicide?

Those are the costs of war just as much as destroyed equipment or spent munitions. Every veteran who has been killed or disabled, or has succumbed to PTSD and depression is a casualty. Their families also suffer economically during multiple deployments, and emotionally as well. The deaths of so many Americans from combat and combat-related problems are shared by relatively few Americans and are not covered by a news media obsessed with e-mails and anchor babies.

It’s not just veterans and their families who are affected by war. Another aspect of the human costs of that war has been the systematic looting of social safety net programs, resulting in suffering and thousands of untold tragedies, mostly among the poorest Americans and children. Poverty, hunger, homelessness … economic and political instability … all either directly or indirectly caused by our misadventure in Iraq, although rarely identified as such.

The human tragedies caused by war extend to the next generations.Just as our children will be paying for the Iraq war, some of those children will be paying a heavier emotional price … This is a reality we might keep in mind as the same group of chicken-hawks are now pushing for a war against Iran.

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