Sunday, February 06, 2011

Wasteful wars

Are there any other kinds?

Well yes actually there are

Take the current world situation where the US decided to wage war against El Qaeda then to invade Iraq and latterly to occupy, sorry support the legal government of Afghanistan

Let us step back a bit and look at the economic justification for military force.

In strictly economic terms, does an expensive military force give a country a better return on investment than the country would get if it spent the money on something else?

There are plenty of prosperous countries in the world today, with wildly different rates of military spending relative to GDP, so it should be a simple matter to look at the numbers and see if military force is really a good investment.
Another aspect of the economic angle is that the more expensive the weaponry of the powerful side in any war, the greater the opportunities for successful asymmetrical warfare on the part of the weaker side.

For example, look at the two most popular ways of accurately delivering a bomb these days.

The expensive way is to design a highly-intelligent, expensive guided missile, attach it to a very expensive aircraft, manned or unmanned, and control it via a fiendishly complicated and expensive communication network.

The cheap way is to induce some fool to carry it to its target in person and push a button.

Both systems work pretty well.

Rich countries have moral qualms about the second method, or suffer a shortage of suitable fools, so they're forced to go the expensive route.

In terms of overall economic asymmetry, in very round numbers, and conspiracy theories aside, the 9/11 attacks are estimated to have cost the attackers no more than $500,000.

As a result of the 9/11 attacks, the US conquered and occupied Iraq at a cost of more than $500 billion.

That's a 1000 to 1 return on investment.

Even a fairly low-budget adversary could bankrupt the US with a few more wars like that.


And of course this is not the only aspect in any declared war you have to increase your security

So as a direct result of 9/11 the whole world pays in terms of ease of movement where data bases now check ever increasing amounts of personal information on hundreds of millions of people worldwide every time they want to travel anywhere in the West

These data bases can and are of course used for other purposes as well

Just taking these two examples of bomb delivery and freedom to travel we can see clearly that the US is losing on both counts

Add in all the other aspects of war cost and things look even worse

And we have not mentioned the millions whose lives are affected or those killed, wounded, and crippled for life

Others their homes and lives destroyed

So why go to war?

Well if you have the world's biggest arms industry

A big defence machine or war machine in any other language

Munitions and equipment getting old and approaching their use by date, then better find a way to get rid of them

So yes we might say that the US is involved in a wasteful war from one perspective and quite a profitable one looked at from another

And in the way of these things those who made the decisions are not dying nor have they lost anything, on the contrary many have made huge sums of money

Wars are where a few make indecent sums of money and the majority die and know suffering

Let those who create and commit others to wars experience their karma

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