If war ever made sense, it is insane. Whatever just causes may initiate a conflict are almost always eclipsed by the evils unleashed by modern war. We cannot measure the personal devastation nor the seeds of future violence unleashed by it, but the financial impact of war may be easier to calculate.. For example, an Associated Press study discovered that the government is still making monthly payments to two children of Civil War veterans 148 years later.
World War I, which ended 94 years ago, continues to cost taxpayers about $20 million every year. World War II? $5 billion.
Compensation for WWII veterans and families didn’t peak until 1991 – 46 years after the war ended – and annual costs since then have only declined by about 25 percent. Korean War costs appear to be leveling off at about $2.8 billion per year.
Vietnam War veterans now collect $22 billion a year and the cost continues to rise.
So far, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the first Persian Gulf Those post-service compensation costs have totaled more than $50 billion since 2003, not including expenses of medical care and other benefits provided to veterans, and are poised to grow for many years to come.
The new veterans are filing for disabilities at historic rates, with about 45 percent of those from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking compensation for injuries. Many are seeking compensation for a variety of ailments at once.
Believe it or not, some have said the implication of this study is that we need to cut veteran’s benefits. Instead, I would argue that these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. They suggest that we cannot measure the social and environmental costs of war, but we know enough to realize that war itself now threatens human survival much more than the supposed dangers we so casually go to war to defend against.