The cost of war cannot be seen because war robbed us of a more beneficial future, a future that never happened. Generations ago some family friend or member was a causality and never had a chance to build a better world that would have benefited our ancestors and through them, our generation. That cost cannot be calculated; it was a better world that did not happen because of war.
In the most important calculation, the cost of war is infinite. For its tragedies are woven into our history becoming the foundation of our future. The cost too is woven-in and ongoing, like a war tax that never ends. Like our confederate forefathers, we still pay with the grudges we hold for the injustice of our loss. Like our World War II generation, we still pay for the military-industrial complex. The costs are the social programs to support and uplift that never happened. Like our Vietnam generation, we still pay for news media collusion. The costs are the truths that will never be known. But perhaps the greatest cost is our loss of peace. The war mentality asserts that we wage war now so that we can have peace later; but later never comes. The war mentality is woven deep in our culture and it prevents peace by calling peacemakers traitors, smearing the peace process as naïve, and arresting those who protest war. We pay for war with the peace that never comes.
Selling out Peace
Many think that the price of peace is war; but that’s backwards because really the price of war is peace. Peace is more than the absence of war. It’s more than what follows war. Peace is the good-will and security that arises when we seek to understand those who disagree with us, to respect their humanity no matter what, and to accept their right to determine their own lives. When we fight to force our way upon others, to oppress them; we’re selling out peace. When we regard them as inferior; we’re selling out peace. When we call them evil and don’t even consider conflicts from their perspective; we’re selling out peace. We’ve bought war; but the price was peace.
The Injustice of War
Many will justify war to fight injustice. But does injustice justify hate? Does injustice justify anger? Does injustice justify killing? When we think that fighting injustice will bring justice, we are trapped in the war mentality. It may very well be that what we do after a war will build justice, but don’t credit war for that. It is the work of peace that builds justice, not war. War is the final failure of civilization. Any moral advancement arises as peace’s reaction to heal the injustices of war. Understanding, equanimity, helpfulness, forgiveness, tolerance are tools of justice that insures peace. War requires bias against the other side; and being biased for justice is as illogical as fighting for peace. To the extent that we assert such contradictions is the measure of our war mentality. This too is a cost of repeated wars.
When we calculate the cost of war, we measure what we could have done with that money in North Carolina, how many schools we could have built, how many people we could have cared for. But there is the other side to the transaction, where did the war money go. Who profited from war? Money like power is taken from peace building and given to the war building of destruction. We’ve had many wars since Eisenhower warned us of the military-industrial complex and the powers of war have grown into a military establishment of military, government, contractors, and consultants in collusion with most news, with much religion, and with some education and science research to sell us war. War weakens the peacemakers and makes the warmongers grow stronger. This is the cost of war.
War is Terrorism
With all that we spend on the technology of war, you’d think that we would kill fewer civilians; but that is not the case. The dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima marked a turning point where war has become terrorism. And in every war since, the proportion of civilian to military causalities has grown higher. If the distinguishing characteristic of terrorism is that it targets innocents, then the technology of war has made war, terrorism.
Since war is terrorism, then to make war on terrorism is to use terrorism to end terrorism. Should it be any surprise that such a strategy breeds more terrorists? This is obvious, so why don’t the warmongers get it? Warmongers may say they want peace, and get us to believe that peace comes at the end of war. But their actions show their true intent – more war for more profit.
Paying for War
The technology of war has become so indiscriminate that not only are we killing a higher proportion of civilians; but we are also killing our own troops. Who’s paying for the victims of nuclear testing? Who’s paying for the victims of Agent Orange? Who’s paying for the victims of Depleted Uranium? To maintain the delusions that support war, our military establishment cannot admit that there is a problem. We deny that there are any victims. We won’t count them. We maintain our ignorance so we can profit from the next war. And this culture’s suicide will be its end, consumed by unintended consequences, because ignorance is the cost of war that keeps on killing.
—Wally Myers, Vice Chair NC Peace Action