Every American should ask themselves three questions about President Biden’s announcement that America’s so-called “Forever War” — at least in Afghanistan — will “officially” end on the 20th anniversary of what started it all: The Terror Event of Sept. 11, 2001, or 9/11.
Here are, first, some facts to ponder about that war; and then the questions.
First of all, since the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, the United States has spent an estimated $2.261 trillion U.S. dollars, which, because it is all borrowed money, does not include the interest that will have to be paid in the future. Nor does it include the cost of providing lifetime medical care and financial support for all the veterans who are the surviving physical and non-physical casualties of this war.
In addition to the financial cost of this war, there are also just under 6,300 American military, civilian and contractor personnel who have been killed; those who did not survive even as people with disabilities.
So the first question and second questions go together.
First, what exactly has this nation, the United States of America, gained — in any way whatsoever — from this, the longest and most expensive war in its history? How much safer, securer, stronger and more-respected is America today compared to what it was on Sept. 10, 2001?
And second, with the exception of those who have made a very good living providing the American military with everything it needs to wage its Forever War, what have the American People gained — again, in any way whatsoever — in return for the American blood and treasure just listed that has been expended?
Meanwhile, since Oct. 7, 2001, close to 70,000 Afghan military and police personnel have been killed, almost 48,000 Afghan civilians have died; and around 51,000 Afghan opposition fighters have bit the dust; bringing total estimated Afghan fatalities from this War to approximately 169,000.
And that does not include those wounded, maimed, orphaned, left childless, widowed or widowered, and crippled physically, psychologically and spiritually because made jobless, homeless, helpless, and ultimately hopeless. Approximately 10% of Afghanistan’s 40 million people are displaced refugees in their own homeland.
All of which leads to the next question: What have the land, country, nation, and above all, the peoples of Afghanistan gained — as always, in any way whatsoever — from our war on them?
For what they have lost in their blood and treasure is incalculable. If only because they had very little treasure to lose to begin with.
Please ask yourselves those three questions about our Forever War, folks: Who has gained from it? And who has lost? And who is going to pay the bills when they start coming due? And then see how you feel about the answers you get.
And then remember that the “Forever War” is not just limited to Afghanistan. And then ask yourself the same questions about Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and so forth, and of course, Iran.
For more information about the human, financial, and opportunity costs of the Forever War, visit the Brown University Costs Of War Project at: watson.brown.edu/costsofwar.
Jeffrey G. Moebus is a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant living in Sitka.