As the last of the U.S. Forces leave Afghanistan in what became America’s longest war, it is time to reflect on our foreign policy over the last 60 years and realize that it is past time to change how our tax dollars are spent.
We spent $844 billion dollars and lost 58,220 American lives over almost 18 years in Vietnam to combat communism. And what did we accomplish? Vietnam has a communist government.
The Persian Gulf War cost $117 billion and 383 American lives, and was mostly fought to protect the interests of U.S. oil companies. While this was considered a success because of the international coalition that was formed to fight this conflict, the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power coupled with the later false information that Hussein possessed a stockpile of WMD’s eventually led to the Iraq War. This cost another $1 trillion dollars and 4,410 soldiers' lives. While the basis for this war became, over time, to bring democracy to the region, the country continues to be marred by conflict and terror.
Finally, we have the war in Afghanistan, $910 billion and another 2,285 lives wasted to defeat the Taliban which, more than likely, will control the entire country again after the U.S. withdrawal. And these costs don’t include the amount the government is obligated to spend on lifetime care for the wounded veterans of these wars nor the interest payments on the money borrowed to fund these wars.
We have spent far too much money and lost far too many lives mostly to enrich the military industrial complex while our country’s infrastructure has fallen apart. As former President Carter said when asked about China getting ahead of us economically, “Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None. And we have stayed at war.”
Carter said the U.S. is "the most warlike nation in the history of the world" due to a desire to impose American values on other countries, and he suggested that China is investing its resources into projects such as high-speed railroads instead of defense spending.
Cyber attacks are the biggest threat to America today and spending on weapons, that in many cases the military doesn’t even want, is senseless. Former NSC counter-terrorism coordinator Richard Clarke said in 2001 that cyber security was where our national security should be focused, but he was largely ignored by the hawks in the Bush administration.
It’s time to cut military spending and apply our tax dollars to rebuilding our infrastructure and providing a viable healthcare system for our citizens.