John Baer offered this column yesterday in the Philadelphia Daily News for United Nations Peace Day:
A startling "Costs of War" study, recently released by the Eisenhower Research Project, at Brown University, says our government low-balls war costs, and by a bunch.
Figures most often cited by Washington, Obama and the General Accounting Office are $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion.
The Brown study, a comprehensive examination and estimate of the full and ongoing price, put together by 20 economists, anthropologists, lawyers and humanitarians, says that it's at least $3.7 trillion and climbing to $4.4 trillion.
Government accounting, the study says, is just too narrow to measure everything.
Catherine Lutz, a Brown research professor and the "Costs of War" project co-director, tells me that the Pentagon and GAO report only "direct" or "special war" allocations.
There are other costs that are basically hidden.
Lutz says that the true costs of wars since 9/11 must also include budget increases for the Pentagon, the State Department and Homeland Security, enormous future-obligated costs to veterans and - since the wars are almost completely financed by borrowing - nearly $200 billion in interest so far, a number constantly climbing.
"It's not really acceptable that the public doesn't know what the government is obligated to," she says.
One might think that our government purposely hides such short- and long-term encumbrances for fear that a full airing would make our wars much less attractive to the paying public.
(The preceding paragraph is an attempt at understatement.)
The truth is, military spending and foreign policy take what they want, warranted or not, hide the true cost and answer to no one, all while providing anything but peace.
More than 50 years ago, three days before leaving the White House, President Eisenhower addressed the nation and warned of the then-growing powers of what he called "the military/industrial complex."