What Are The Costs of War?
Whenever I see a war or armed conflict breakout anywhere in the world I always wonder where these people get their weapons and ammunition? How can those without access to a reliable supply of water, food, education and housing afford guns, IEDs, rocket propelled grenades, military vehicles, etc.
One answer may be that worldwide spending on the military, including weapons and ammunition, is over $2 trillion a year or about 2.4% of global GDP. Spending has increased steadily from the mid-1990s through 2010, leveling off after the world financial crisis and then picking up steam again recently. More information is available in Deloite’s Global Defense Outlook.
Getting A Handle On War Damage
Over the past 50 years, roughly corresponding with the beginning of the Vietnam War through today, news media has been showing us more and more of the effects of war on people and infrastructure. Recent advances in the Internet, digital cameras, smart phones and now drones are making the realities of life and war more and more widely known.
Of course individuals and nations need to protect themselves but at what point does military conflict become too expensive, in terms of loss of both life and property?
Consider the war between Israel and Gaza lasted 50 days, cost an estimated $10.5 billion and all but leveled Gaza:
- $50 million a day to Israel for military operations or a total of $2.5 billion.
- 17,000 homes destroyed and 30,000 homes damaged in Gaza costing an estimated $8 billion to rebuild.
- a partial account of the human cost: 2,189 Gazans killed, 10,895 Gazans wounded, 66 Israeli soldiers killed, 5 Israeli civilians killed.
How long can people afford these types of expenses?
In 1795 James Madison said: “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 … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
Clearly, there should be limits on war and 21st century citizens should protect against arms manufacturers and their political from stoking the embers of conflicts in order to sell more products.
The following video shows the Shuja’iyya (Shejaia) neighborhood in Gaza in what many consider a just response to Hamas’ bombing of Israel over a period of weeks. However, the following video, on its face, shows the unbelievable damage that can wrought by modern technology.
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References and related links:
- Israel vindicated by UN damage assessment in Gaza – Liberty Unyielding
- Who Started the Israel-Gaza Conflict? – The Atlantic
- Rocket War Update, Day #9: Invasion of Gaza seems likely. IDF warns 100,000 Gazans to evacuate their homes, mobilizes 8,000 more reservists. « Why Israel?