$4 to $6 trillion, according to a new study. This does not count the uncountable human loss, or the brutal toll of PTSD and suicide among the survivors. Last year saw more military suicides in America (349) than military combat deaths in Afghanistan (295). The post-war is becoming more deadly than the war. Yglesias adds:
What should really strike fear into your heart is [professor Linda Bilmes’s] finding that “the largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid.” That’s because equipment lost or destroyed in the wars is going to have to be replaced, interest on the money borrowed to finance the wars is going to have to be paid, and most of all because health care and disability benefits are going to have to be paid well out into the future.
Spencer blames the cost on America’s overreaction to terrorism:
Money, ultimately, is power. In context, it would take a nuclear strike on the United States to inflict the kind of economic damage that the wars have reaped. The only nations capable of inflicting such damage are disinclined toward doing so; and no non-state actor will plausibly obtain the capability to match such a threat. All of that damage is the result not of what bin Laden or Saddam Hussein or the insurgencies that began in their wake did to America, but because of how American strategiests chose to respond. As Radiohead once sang, you do it to yourself, and that’s why it really hurts.
(Photo: Army veteran Brad Schwarz walks through the garage of the home he rents with his girlfriend on May 3, 2012 in Hanover Park, Illinois. The tattoo on Schwarz’s back, a quote from William Shakespeare’s Henry V, is a tribute to friends he served with in Iraq.
Schwarz uses a service dog to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to his 2008 tour in Iraq. In addition to suffering from PTSD Schwarz has memory loss related to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and he must walk with a cane because of vertebrae and nerve damage in his back and legs.
Ten days before he was scheduled to rotate home from a 15-month deployment in Iraq, his second, the Humvee in which he was riding was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Of the 5 soldiers riding in the vehicle, which caught fire after the explosion, Schwarz was the only one to survive. By Scott Olson/Getty Images.)