The obscenity of war in a world of want and suffering

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A Harvard University study puts the combined cost of the needless Iraq and Afghan Wars at more than $6 trillion. Dr Adnan Al-Diani says this is Stone-Age spending.

A study by Professor Linda J. Blimes of Harvard University concludes that the cost to the United States of the Iraq and Afghan Wars, taken together, will be between USD $4 trillion (AUD $4.3 trillion) and USD $6 trillion (AUD $6.45 trillion).

This calculation includes long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs.

The cost so far is USD $2 trillion (AUD $2.15 trillion).

In order to get our head around the colossal figure of $6 trillion — this is equivalent to $75,000 for every household in America.

Deaths of Iraqis and Afghans taken together are estimated to be between 600,000 and a million, with coalition troops’ deaths at around 8,000 — over 7,000 of whom are Americans. 

The suffering and the sheer misery of widows, orphans and families behind these statistics is almost unimaginable.

Our propensity to dehumanise the ‘other’ makes it all too easy for the demagogue, the charlatan and the power hungry to exploit. We are too readily manipulated and outraged into diverting our resources into wars that cause death, injury and destruction.

The suffering to millions of fellow human beings is kept from us by a mainstream media too ready to play its role. In any case, the dehumanisation of our ‘enemies’ dulls our compassion to the point of not seeing their pain and suffering as real.

Leaders and those who would profit from these wars would package their language in distortions and omissions to hide the truth.

George Orwell summed it up accurately, when he said: 

Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Let us for a moment put aside the human cost of these wars and concentrate on the economic cost. This obscene spending on death and destruction is done by a country, the U.S., where 15 per cent of its citizens ‒ 46 million ‒ live below the poverty threshold of $23,492 and 1.5 million of its children become homeless every year.

Worldwide, three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day, 360 million of whom live on less than $1 a day. Grinding poverty, hunger and lack of clean water and effective sanitation blight their lives and their future.  22,000 children die every day due to poverty.

Families are trapped in a cycle of misery and deprivation that cascades through generations with no escape route.

Yet in this world of need and suffering, world military spending stood at over $1.7 trillion in 2012.

Individually, the vast majority of us can see that there is something seriously wrong with the way our priorities are perceived. It is beyond comprehension that with so much poverty and need worldwide — that so much wealth is spent on wars and weapons of death and destruction. However, this rationality and our sense of fairness could so easily be overcome when called upon to dehumanise our perceived ‘enemies’.

As a species we have tremendous talents. Our scientific achievements are incredible; our advances in medicine and technology are stunning.

Our social development, however, is still almost at Stone Age level.

You can follow Dr Adnan Al-Diani on Twitter @respect65.

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