Strange, isn’t it, what doesn’t sink in. Take this number: $6.4 trillion. There’s a figure you might think should cause a genuine stir (especially since each of those was a taxpayer dollar). In fact, that was what, in November 2019, Neta Crawford of Brown University’s invaluable Costs of War Project calculated that this country had spent on or committed to its post-9/11 wars across significant parts of the planet (and future care for U.S. military personnel damaged by them). By all rights, that number should have stunned this country. It should have caused an uproar. It should have resulted in major policy changes in Washington.
Just imagine that, in the years before Covid-19 hit, when American infrastructure was already going down — “infrastructure week” would become a (bad) joke of the Trump era — the American taxpayer was “investing” $6.4 trillion (a figure you can’t repeat too often) in a series of disastrous wars. They would be responsible for the deaths of thousands of American military personnel and hundreds of thousands of civilians in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. They would uproot millions more and help unsettle the planet. Yet, explain it as you will, they simply couldn’t be (and still can’t be) ended. If that isn’t the record from hell, what is?
Today, Crawford’s figure would, of course, have to be updated as we await Joe Biden’s decisions on future American war-making from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond. And yet, strangely enough, as TomDispatch regular and Pentagon expert Mandy Smithberger reports, Washington, in a remarkably bipartisan fashion, continues to fund the Pentagon at levels that should astound us all. This at a moment when questions remain about whether the Biden administration can pass a $1.9 trillion bill to offer relief to Americans overwhelmed by the disaster of Covid-19. Imagine what those $6.4 trillion dollars could have done, if invested in this country, in us, instead of in those disastrous wars. Tom
Focusing on the Wrong Threats, including a New Cold War with China, Is the Last Thing We Can Afford Now
This country is in a crisis of the first order. More than half a million of us have died thanks to Covid-19. Food insecurity is on the rise, with nearly 24 million Americans going hungry, including 12 million children. Unemployment claims filed since the pandemic began have now reached 93 million. Given the level of damage to the less wealthy parts of this society, it’s little wonder that most Americans chose pandemic recovery (including the quick distribution of vaccines) as their top priority issue.
Keep in mind that our democracy is suffering as well. After all, former president Donald Trump incited an insurrection when he wasn't able to win at the polls, an assault on the Capitol in which military veterans were overrepresented among those committed to reversing the election results (and endangering legislators as well). If you want a mood-of-the-moment fact, consider this: even after Joe Biden’s election, QAnon followers continued to insist that Trump could still be inaugurated to his second term in office. Addressing economic and political instability at home will take significant resources and focus, including calling to account those who so grossly mishandled the country's pandemic response and stoked the big lie of questioning the legitimacy of Biden’s election victory.Read More