Executive SummaryThe Costs of WarEisenhower Study Group
As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as onewho knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight. As we peer into society's future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage thematerial assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address, January 1961
Ten Years, 225,000 Killed,and More than $3.2 - 4 Trillion Spent and Obligated to Date
Nearly every government that goes to war underestimates its duration, neglects to tally all thecosts, and overestimates the political objectives that can be accomplished by the use of bruteforce. Eisenhower knew this, but we could have earlier found this truth in the record of war fromThucydides'
History of the Peloponnesian War
to Barbara Tuchman's account of World War I,
The Guns of August
Over this long nearly ten years, the United States launched two major wars and engaged inthe largest reorganization of its government since the Great Depression. A new weapon, theremotely piloted "drone" aircraft was sent to kill militants in Yemen and Pakistan. More than 2.2million Americans have gone to war and over a million have returned as veterans. Some whohave returned have been honored, a small number have been tried for war crimes, and too manyhave committed suicide. Americans debated the costs of civil liberties lost at home and cringedat revelations of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. U.S. generals have switchedstrategies several times and most recently decided to emphasize "population protection" becausethey realized that, in the words of the new counterinsurgency manual, "An operation that killsinsurgents is counterproductive if collateral damage leads to the recruitment of fifty moreinsurgents."
But it is the wounded and the dead – the latter very conservatively estimated at
United States Army and Marine Corp,
U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manuel: Field Manual no. 3-24: Marine Corp Warfighting Publication no. 3-33.5
(Chicago:University of Chicago, 2007) I-141, p. 45.