Cost of all U.S. wars versus cost of coronapanic

It was Veterans Day last week, when we celebrated anyone who carried a gun, flew a desk, stocked shelves, or conducted gender reassignment surgery on behalf of the U.S. military. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has a budget roughly comparable to what the formidable Russians spend on their active duty military. To what could we compare our military budget that would make it look like a bargain?

What’s the scope of the spending that we’re hoping to put into perspective? Let’s start by looking at a Congressional Research Service report, “Costs of Major U.S. Wars” (figures in 2011 dollars). According to the pointy heads, the U.S. spent $4.1 trillion on World War II, $728 billion on the Vietnam War, and roughly $1.1 trillion for the first 10 years of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our other wars were insignificant in costs by comparison.

What could have cost more than all of these wars? Coronapanic! Ignoring what cities and states might have spent, e.g., paying employees who weren’t working, the federal government alone has spent roughly $10 trillion so far (

A Smithsonian National Museum of American History exhibit, November 2019:


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Shut down the U.S. Army now that we know more about our limits?

Some 9/11 reflections…

U.S. military spending in 2000 was $320 billion. That’s about $520 billion in today’s mini-dollars. The 2021 military spend is about $700 billion (35 percent higher in real terms) plus about $220 billion for veterans (pensions, health care, etc.).

We were recently defeated by a peasant army in Afghanistan. Might it be time to consider investing less in an area where we have a record of ineffectiveness?

My dumbest question: Why spend money on an army (1 million uniformed personnel plus 250,000 civilians)? I can understand why we might want a navy (though maybe we could lose it all in an hour or two? See Robot kamikaze submarines shaped like blue whales render navy ships useless?). I can understand why we want an air force, e.g., for drone attacks on people we don’t like, dropping bombs on the assets of governments we don’t like, etc. I can understand why we might want Navy SEALs and similar special forces. But what is the Army for in our current strategic situation?

We’re not going to invade Poland with tanks, right? We’re not going to occupy Canada (I hope!). We’re not going to try to secure the border with Mexico against unauthorized crossing. Why are we paying 1.25 million people to prepare for a land war and/or to fight unwinnable land wars, such as in Afghanistan?

One argument in favor of the Army is that it can be deployed against domestic enemies, e.g., those who violate lockdown and mask orders (see Australia and Peru) or Trump supporters who might have wanted to come back to the Capitol after January 6. Another argument is that the National Guard part of the Army can help with disaster relief, e.g., picking up people with helicopters after floods. But these roles wouldn’t seem to require 1.25 million people.

Here’s another way to phrase the question: If we had no military forces of any kind today, what would we choose to fund and build? Would a million-soldier land army be part of that?


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Islam is more powerful than Rainbow Flagism?

An Islamic army has beaten the U.S. military’s proxy force in Afghanistan. The embassy that flew a rainbow flag in June was overrun in August. The U.S. military is nominally secular, but its focus for the past 10 years has been on all things LGBTQIA+ (See “Obama hails end of U.S. military restrictions on gays,” Reuters 2011, for example, and “With Transgender Military Ban Lifted, Obama Cements Historic LGBT Rights Legacy,” NBC 2016).

Given the enormous asymmetry in equipment and funding and the stunningly rapid victory of the Muslim faithful armed with basic rifles, is it now fair to say that Islam is more powerful than America’s current state religion?

Is Rainbow Flagism truly our military’s official religion? The U.S. Air Force:

Our Navy, in 2017:

Seventeen days later, they proudly rammed a cargo ship with a $1.8 billion destroyer and, two months later, smashed a different destroyer into a tanker.

Our Army:

(Trump had a West Point graduate and then a former Army Ranger in the role of Secretary of the Army; Biden appointed someone who had never served in the U.S. military.)

Recruiting new soldiers under the rainbow flag:

Separately, why was it only LGBTI that was celebrated by the U.S. Embassy Kabul? Why not LGBTQIA+?

Perhaps the above post is too negative. Maybe we should say that we’re proud of having spent 20 years and $4 trillion (counting PTSD disability pensions to veterans and all of the welfare that will need to be paid out to Afghan immigrants and their descendants) to transform a nation. When we started the war, Afghanistan was being governed by the Taliban. Now that two decades of war are over and we have run away, the Taliban are governing Afghanistan.


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What do we think of the American defeat in Afghanistan?

Our puppet government has folded and we now have to recognize that we achieved nothing after spending 20 years, 100,000+ Afghan lives, 3,000 American and European lives, and unknown $trillions (the spending will continue as U.S. soldiers sign up for disability benefits and Afghans immigrate to the U.S. and sign up for multiple generations of means-tested public housing, Medicaid, food stamps, etc.).

What will change going forward? Will we still be just as enthusiastic about wars we can’t win?


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Has the world been more peaceful since coronaplague broke out?

From a year ago, in Memorial Day thought: Will coronaplague bring us years of peace?

Maybe there won’t be too many more sacrifices among soldiers worldwide for the next few years. Do countries that have shut down their societies, schools, and economies have the will or the wealth to go to war? What would they fight for? To conquer a territory that is also shut down and packed with inhabitants who are entirely dependent on government welfare?

What actually happened? Did the world overall see fewer conflicts and loss of life through war or was conflict intensified due to shutdowns?

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Jet pilot hero considers returning to the Air Force Reserve

A friend used to be a military hero flying an exotic airplane for the U.S. Air Force. Due to the airline industry boom, a lot of pilots retired during the past few years, but now the Air Force hopes to get some back, at least part time, for the Reserve. A recruiter called. Here were the first three questions:

  1. What was your sex at birth?
  2. What pronouns do you use now?
  3. Have you tested positive for Covid-19?
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Memorial Day thought: Will coronaplague bring us years of peace?

My Dutch friend, quoted in an earlier post:

What was his take on the continued lockdown in the U.S.? “All of the rights that Americans fought and died in multiple wars to defend, they gave up in one governor’s press conference.”

Even if it turned out that we did not need or value the freedoms that Americans previously died for, today is our day to reflect on their sacrifice.

Maybe there won’t be too many more sacrifices among soldiers worldwide for the next few years. Do countries that have shut down their societies, schools, and economies have the will or the wealth to go to war? What would they fight for? To conquer a territory that is also shut down and packed with inhabitants who are entirely dependent on government welfare?

Readers: What do you think? Time to short the merchants of death because governments won’t be buying weapons and going to war any time soon?

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What’s happening on the Turkey/Syria border?

Just a few months ago, Americans couldn’t live without news about Turkey, Syria, and the Kurds, e.g., “Kurds say Turkey is violating hours-old ‘ceasefire’ in northern Syria” (CNN, October 18, 2019)

Our media is now silent on this topic. Did whatever the problem was resolve itself? Or Americans stopped caring? Or what?

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War and military glory invade Washington’s Mall

We went down to Washington, D.C. for Women’s March Weekend.

On Sunday, a park ranger showing us the World War II Memorial explained that the Mall was originally intended to be dedicated to peace. “Then the Vietnam Veterans demanded a memorial [1982] and who can say ‘no’ to a Vietnam Vet,” he opened. “After that, people said that the Korean War was literally called ‘The Forgotten War’ so they got a memorial too. Then people said ‘What about the Big One?’ so now we have this World War II memorial.”

“World War II was primarily prosecuted by American women?” asked an immigrant friend and companion for this outing. “Maybe Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton were here one midnight chiseling out the stone.”

Authentic picture of the crowd gathered for the Donald Trump inauguration:

View from the ground:

In front of the memorial to the man great enough to free all of the slaves in states over which he had no authority:

(Would this be like saying “I am donating all of the cars in Massachusetts, except for the one that I own and am driving, to charity”?)

Organic gender binarism at the Flower Child restaurant:

The D.C. area is so political that the Rockville, Maryland CVS carries a replica Bernie Sanders campaign bus:

Back to the War on the Mall theme… if we add up the reverential stories from Democrats and Republicans about our great military and the sacrifices that they’ve made for us (even those who simply worked a desk job while in uniform), the only logical conclusion is that these people are so great and so heroic that they should run everything.

Readers: If our military took over the Mall in the past 40 years, is it likely that they will also take over the government within the next 100?

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Homer thought 10 years was an endless war

I recently picked up a cartoon (“graphic novel”) version of the Iliad to read with the kids. It struck me that Homer was using 10 years as the time at which a war could reasonably be considered “endless”.

We will observe the 19th anniversary of our Afghanistan War in 2020 (Trump says he will get our military out in 2020 (NBC), but if he has authority as Commander in Chief, why didn’t he do this in January 2017?)

Our Iraq war is entering its 17th year? Wikipedia claims that it ended in 2011, but we had at least 5,200 troops in Iraq at the end of 2019 (Al Jazeera). Can we say that we’re no longer at war if we still have soldiers in the country who are fighting? And what about the recent drone strike against Iranians at the Baghdad airport? Is that a new war against Iran or a continuation of the old war against Iraq?

Supposedly the modern world proceeds at a faster pace than did the Ancient world, yet it takes us longer to prosecute a war than Homer thought was conceivable.

Separately, what is the story with the drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani? A typical post from a Facebook friend who had no idea who this guy was a week ago:

This morning we need a fear emoji. Karen Palmer writes: “Every national security expert I follow on Twitter — Democrat, Republican, military, civilian, you name it — is thunderstruck by this move. No conversation with Congress and no advance warning. This isn’t like the Bin Laden assassination — Bin Laden was a fugitive running an independent terror operation. Suleimani is a bad, bad guy, but he’s an appointed government official of the highest rank. There are bound to be serious repercussions, and nobody who will actually have to manage them had any idea this was coming. We should be very concerned for the safety of all the diplomats and military personnel in the region.”

On the one hand, Trump did this so it has to be bad. On the other hand, people say that this guy was our enemy (if we spend $1 trillion a year on a military, including veterans, why are any of our enemies still running around free?). On the third hand, almost everything that the U.S. has done militarily since World War II has backfired.

Readers: Was this a good or a bad idea?

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