The Costs of War

Friday January 6th, 2012   •   Posted by Emily Skarbek at 7:59am PST   •  

At the Pentagon yesterday, President Obama released a press statement concerning his new military strategy. The document was clear with regard to Iran, stating “U.S. policy will emphasize Gulf security, in collaboration with the Gulf Co-operation Council countries when appropriate, to prevent Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon capability and counter its destabilizing policies.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been quoted as saying “If we get intelligence they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps necessary to deal with it” and Intrade pegs the chance of an overt US / Israeli air strike before the end of the year around 20 percent.

In light of the President’s reluctance to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and his unconstitutional aggressions in Libya (for visuals, see here), this should send a shiver down your spine. On Tuesday, Iran’s military warned the U.S. Navy to keep one of its biggest aircraft carriers away from the Gulf. Iran’s armed forces chief, General Ataollah Salehi said, “We advise and insist that this warship not return to its former base in the Persian Gulf.”

As the Montreal Gazette reports, the United States dismissed the Iranian threat, saying it was proof that sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program were working. The Pentagon said it would keep sending carrier strike groups through the Gulf regardless.

With tensions escalating and an unconstrained executive government, we should ask: What are the costs of war?

Below is a video of footage from Iran that you are not likely to see on any news shows or shown in reference to any of the President’s new military strategy. The video serves to remind us that the costs of war are more than the sacrifices of American soldiers and the dollars spent on war planes, bullets and bombs. The wars Americans finance disrupt societies and destroy lives for questionable increases in security and well-being.

The video footage above should also serve as a reminder of the hubris of statesmen to make war on other nations and the dangerous consequences this has for liberty in America. In 1865, James Madison observed that:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people…. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
—“Political Observations” in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (1865), Vol. IV, p. 491

Simply stated, war destroys the lives and liberty of others while slowly doing the same to people living under the rule of the warmongers.

HT: Jennifer Dirmeyer for the video

Featured Image:
By _Skender_ via Creative Commons on Flikr

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January 2012