It has been estimated that Australians have forked out around $15 billion to fund overseas defense missions since 1999. This figure is estimated to increase by around $1 billion or more in recent years owing to war against the Islamic States in Iraq. This estimation was provided in a report by the online Australian news portal news.com.au. Further, according to the Huffington Post, the US military operations in the Islamic States of Syria and Iraq have already cost between $780 and $930 million. Is all this outrageous spending a necessity or could this money be apportioned differently?
According to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, if the military operations continue at the current pace, the US could spend as much as $200 to $320 million per month! This is a conservative estimate. Recently, after the enactment of the FY214 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress estimated that the past 13 years of war cost around $1.6 trillion for military operations. The cost of military operations included embassy costs, reconstructions, training of Iraqi and Afghan security forces, and Veteran’s Health Care. On the international frontier, the wars are becoming deadlier, especially to innocent civilians. In these post-Cold War conflicts, the world has seen more than 5 million casualties of which roughly 95% of these are civilians.
Almost every developed nation of the world is spending large amounts of money on wars and military operations. China spends about $140 billion, which is around 41% of the world’s total military budget. Humanitarians claim that states should not spend so much on military operations, and instead they should spend on social welfare. If half the amount of money spent on wars and military operations was spent to provide food and shelter to the poor citizens of the world, it could make a dramatic impact on the population’s quality of life.
Food and shelter are not the only issues, the world also lacks an even distribution of education and basic life amenities. The clear line of distinction between the rich and the poor is creating political instability and riots. Rather than increasing the defense budget, it would be wiser to spend on bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.
Undeniably, defense is the backbone of many countries and we do not yet live in a utopian state of being. For some countries it is important to spend money buying and manufacturing weapons as well as maintaining military forces. However, spending in excess on the military and not taking care of the fundamental necessities of the populace (food, shelter, health care, and education) can be extremely detrimental.
Effect on Civilians
An argument could be made that the amount of money spent on buying military vehicles and equipment could be better apportioned to eradicate hunger, provide universal healthcare, and complete various developmental operations. The amount of money that the Pentagon spent in Afghanistan and Iraq over a period of just 40 months ($385 billion) could have been used to expand Medicare’s drug benefits program, for seniors, for a period of 10 years. Furthermore, according to a report by the Business Insider, air conditioning cost for the troops in Afghanistan is the equivalent of 40 years of Amtrack funding. The money used in the last five years for navy vessels, fuel, aircraft, and generators add up to over $10.3 billion. How great of an impact would that amount of money have made if it was invested in our countries domestic issues?