Sunday, September 8, 2013

NPR BOSTON: The Cost Of Striking Syria

SOURCE:  WBUR 90.9 - NPR Boston


"The miscalculations in Iraq and Afghanistan hang in the air as we weigh up whether to attack Syria. Of course, no situation is ever quite the same, and in this case the president is not urging a full-fledged invasion, just air and naval attacks. But after more than a decade of inconclusive war in the region, comparisons are inevitable.  Here are four lessons from those conflicts that we should bear in mind if we intervene in Syria:"
1. The costs go on long after combat phase is finished.
"Even short conflicts have long term costs. The 1991 Gulf War lasted for six weeks and our coalition allies paid for the combat phase. But the U.S. now spends $4 billion per year paying disability benefits to veterans of that conflict, many of whom suffer from conditions related to “Gulf War Syndrome...."
2. Failure to plan for how to pay for the war can have disastrous consequences for the economy.
3. The costs of war are unpredictable.
4. The U.S. does a poor job of war accounting.
Linda J. Bilmes is the co-author (with Joseph Stiglitz) of “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.”  This essay is drawn from her remarks at the American Political Science Association, “Tenth Anniversary of the U.S. War in Iraq: Power, Persuasion and Lessons of War” on August 30, 2013 and her keynote address at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War in March, 2013. Read more of Bilmes’ writing about “The Financial Legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan,”  here.

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