The Hidden Cost of The War on Terror

Todd Strandberg 90x115by Todd Strandberg

Army staff sergeant Robert Bales, trained as a sniper, slaughtered seventeen people in Afghanistan. Bales left his post in the middle of the night, entered homes in a nearby village, and shot people while they slept.

The early signs point to mental illness as a possible reason for the attack. The sergeant apparently suffered a traumatic brain injury two years ago. After shooting his victims, several of them were stabbed and set on fire.

The suspect suffered the brain injury in Iraq in 2010 after a vehicle he was riding in rolled over. But he passed a mental-health exam following the injury, and was declared fit for deployment. Having spent twenty years in the Air Force, I don’t put any stock in military doctors, especially when it comes to something as complex as the human brain.

An Army psychiatrist recently back from the base where the shootings occurred, who declined to be named, said he knows of two cases in which two soldiers walked off post. “They lost all sense of reality and they just marched down the road. One even got to another Forward Operating base."

The shooting in Afghanistan is reminder of the growing cost of the Iraq-Afghanistan war. The dollar cost of the War on Terror has been rising at an exponential rate. In 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom was given a price tag of $100 billion. The Department of Defense recently claimed the Iraq War’s cost as being under $1 trillion. A major report by Brown University, which took into account interest payments and other expenses ignored by other reports, said the total for wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is at least $3 trillion.

We haven’t been financing these Middle East campaigns from our spare pocket change. Our nation is on the brink of bankruptcy, and no one in Washington is willing to consider our war costs as part of the problem.

We are scheduled to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The flow of red ink doesn’t end as the last tank rolls out. Over two hundred thousand soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated at Veterans’ Affairs medical facilities. The cost of medical care and compensation benefits for veterans will skyrocket once those troops return home. In 2007, the tab was $660 billion. Five years later, the cost is over $1 trillion for just the next thirty years.

There is a special class of veterans that we don’t know how much they will cost us. These are people who have suffered profound injuries. In previous wars, soldiers who suffered massive brain injuries or lost limbs would likely die on the battlefield. Today, medical science has been able to save their lives. Since most of them will need intensive care for the rest of their lives, they will cost the system millions.

For several years, I’ve warned that our leaders have been incompetent in managing the cost of our foreign wars. Now that we are about to finally leave these godless nations, the damage is largely done. We have followed the same mistake made by the Roman Empire A major cause of its fall was its spending on constant wars.

At least the Romans got something for their military adventurism. When they subdued a land, they would utilize its resources for the benefit of the empire. Our investment in Middle East war has only made the world worse off. We liberated Iraq, only to see it fall into the hands of leaders who are friendly to Iran. Our air war against Libya has allowed Islamists to gain key positions of control of that nation. Afghanistan will quickly be reclaimed by the Taliban once we pull out.

Our next mistake will probably be Syria. We’ll spend hundreds of billions to kick Assad out of power, only to see Hezbollah running the government in Damascus. Assad is a brutal tyrant who deserves to be cast into the hottest part of hell, but we can’t replace him with a party whose campaign logo is "Death to Israel."

Sometime in the near future, the long-term cost of the War on Terror will become a current reality. Once our nation suffers a financial meltdown, all these military endeavors will come to an abrupt end. Since Bible prophecy has no direct mention of America, it seems to predict our exit from the world stage. The Antichrist will be the world’s greatest military leader. America’s sudden departure would indicate the way is being cleared for his arrival.

by Todd Strandberg