War-making as domestic policy

The National Priorities Project calculated the opportunity costs generated by the $122B the United States spent on the Afghanistan War in 2011. Instead of spending that enormous amount of money on an unpopular and unnecessary war, a war that includes non-monetary costs and that promises to generate blowback for decades to come, the United States could have used that money for any one of the following:

  • 62.5 million Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for One Year
  • 1.9 million Elementary School Teachers for One Year
  • 2.1 million Firefighters for One Year
  • 16.0 million Head Start Slots for Children for One Year
  • 27.6 million Households with Renewable Electricity — Solar Photovoltaic for One Year
  • 73.7 million Households with Renewable Electricity-Wind Power for One Year
  • 15.6 million Military Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care for One Year
  • 25.1 million People Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for One Year
  • 1.8 million Police or Sheriff’s Patrol Officers for One Year
  • 15.5 million Scholarships for University Students for One Year
  • 22.0 million Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550

Think Progress used the National Priorities data to generate a slightly different list:

  • Provide 57.5 Million Children with Low-Income Health Care For 2011
  • Provide 23 Million People with Low-Income Health Coverage in 2011
  • Give 20.2 Million $5,500 Pell Grants to Students In 2011
  • Provide 14.35 million Military Veterans with VA Medical Care In 2011
  • Give 14.7 million Children Head Start Funding in 2011
  • Give 14.26 Million Scholarships to University Students in 2011
  • Employ 1.93 million Firefighters in 2011
  • Hire 1.75 Million Elementary School Teachers in 2011
  • Hire 1.65 Million Police Officers in 2011
  • Equip 67.8 Million Households with the Ability to Use Wind Power in 2011
  • Equip 25.39 Million Households with the Ability to use Solar Photovoltaic Energy in 2011

Washington’s laptop bombardiers would need to justify frankly and completely their war-spending in Afghanistan if they believed themselves accountable to the Americans adversely affected by their war-making. But they do not believe themselves accountable to the electorate. Unfortunate and deeply embedded political conditions enable them to waste lives here and abroad with impunity. America’s political elite would rather struggle to overcome America’s imperial decline than to govern effectively and well.