We are entering the 16th year of the US occupation of Afghanistan. It is not America’s longest war. Officially, the US is still at war with North Korea. That 67-year conflict never had an official peace treaty, the last 64 years technically being a ceasefire while the two sides negotiate peace. But in terms of active violence, it is the US’ longest war. It is time to ask: what is the unknown cost of endless war?

The obvious cost is the carnage, maimed and dead soldiers, cities turned to rubble, families destroyed and pushed into the hands of ISIS by America’s bombs.

War is expensive, peace is priceless.Less known is the sheer magnitude of the financial cost. Last year taxpayers were extorted $45,000,000,000 to occupy Afghanistan. The upcoming year is likely to extort more than $50,000,000,000.

Total cost as of three years ago was $1,007,000,000,000, grown to who knows how much since. This comes out to more than $30,000 from every American citizen, including infants.

All the above staggering numbers of course exclude the additional costs of destabilizing Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. Bombs aren’t cheap, and Obama dropped 26,171 of them last year alone! And there is no end in sight!

But all that can be found with a quick Internet search. What is the unknown cost nearly everyone is unaware of?

The Unknown Cost

The most interesting man in the world: I don't always oppose war, but when I do, it's because the Republicans are in office.Do you remember what a big deal war was during the Bush years? The massive street protests across the US? How the war sunk his popularity? Today the war is forgotten despite it being arguably worse now: besides Obama expanding the scope of Bush’s wars, at least in 2001 it could be and was claimed that the US troops wouldn’t be in those countries for very long. Today we no longer have even that hope.

This gets to the unknown cost of endless war: numbness. Humans have a bad habit of becoming numb to an outrage the longer it lasts. As endless war drags on, it becomes normalized, acceptable, forgotten.

Anti-war left spotted reemerging from 8-year hibernation.

False alarm!!

Remember the memes when Trump took office about the anti-left war waking up from an 8-year hibernation? Yes, the anti-war left disappeared once their man Obama was doing the mass murder, but the memes were incorrect about Trump re-awakening the anti-war left: 16 years of war have put them into a permanent coma.

The unknown cost of endless war is every year that goes by it makes people become more and more accepting of war. Change happens not from getting the right people in office but rather from changing the hearts and mind of people. Every year war continues means fewer hearts and minds can actually be changed as more people accept war as normal. This cost is worse than the financial and carnage costs, as it amplifies all the other evils of war by letting the war machine spin out of control without anyone caring to question it.

Channeling Your Activism

We can fight human nature or we can work with it. Unless Trump does something really stupid like drop a nuke, the anti-war movement’s best chance for influence passed us by over a decade ago and isn’t coming back. War is the greatest evil of mankind, and so it is understandable that a liberty activist may want to continue the fight against the global American conflagration. Yet if you are to work with human nature in your activism, you must find fresh new outrages to rile up the people against their new president.

And that will be the topic of my next blog when I review Trump’s less than stellar record in promoting liberty.


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