EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
Here’s the price tag: $5.48 trillion. No, that’s not the cost of what President Biden is calling a “generational investment” to rebuild America. That’s the price of the so-called War on Terror since 2001, as detailed by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs—the cost to US taxpayers of sending forces to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and other countries in a continuing war that, as Biden implied last week, has metastasized more than it has succeeded.
Roughly half of that total—$2.3 trillion—went into Afghanistan. That total doesn’t include the priceless human cost of nearly 6,300 American lives lost, thousands more wounded, and the vast losses suffered by the Afghan people. Even as the foreign policy establishment savages Biden for ending a 20-year occupation in Afghanistan, one can only be outraged by the money and lives squandered on military adventures that have ended in disgraceful calamities.
Contrast that sum—and those lives—with the $3.5 trillion that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) correctly dubs the “most consequential piece of legislation” since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. It would begin to address the existential threat posed by climate change, reduce childhood poverty by half, expand public education from pre-K to free community college, extend health care through Medicare while making drugs more affordable, support families with help for day care, paid family leave and a child allowance and more. It is not enough—but it is a start.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.