True cost of war more than a trillion dollars

The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has surpassed one trillion dollars, according to the Congressional Budget Office. While this figure is staggering, a Libertarian presidential hopeful said that the real cost of these conflicts to our economy and our liberty is even more staggering.

“One trillion dollars is an almost incomprehensible number, but what is even more incomprehensible is the fact that most of that cost is borrowed money,” said R. Lee Wrights, former Libertarian Party national vice chair and the editor and co-founder of Liberty for All, an online free speech magazine.

“The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“The federal government borrows about 43 cents of every dollar it spends, and then uses it to build schools, roads and hospitals in countries where we’re partly responsible for destroying that infrastructure,” he said. “That’s not only insane, it’s immoral.”

Wrights said that he is considering seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 should be a loud and unequivocal call to stop all war. Wrights, 52, was born in Winston-Salem and lived in North Carolina most of his life. He now lives and works in Texas.

“The Libertarian Party faces a critical test in 2012 and I want to make sure that we’re up to the challenge,” Wrights said. “The Libertarian message in 2012 must be loud and clear – stop all wars! Stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop the war on drugs and alternative lifestyles, stop the war on civil liberties.”

“When we first invaded Iraq we were told that the ‘war would pay for itself’ because Iraq had the oil resources,” Wrights said. He noted that Paul Wolfowitz, then assistant secretary of defense, told Congress in March 2003, “There’s a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”

“That hasn’t happened. Instead, the federal government has simply printed or borrowed the money to rebuild what’s been destroyed,” Wrights said. “Politicians are treating war spending like an open checkbook. As long as they have checks, they keep writing them without bothering to balance the account.”

The 2010 military budget is $700 billion. In real terms, defense spending is more today than at any time during the Cold War, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, according to Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute.

“To justify its budget, the Defense Department said it was not enough to have a military capable of deterring or responding to aggression,” Wrights said. “Incredibly, defense officials actually claimed it was ‘vital’ the United States be ‘a force for good by engaging with and helping positively to shape the world.’”

“Our founder’s would be appalled,” Wrights said. “They predicted that war would be the most dreaded threat to our liberties. They told us that from war would proceed mean debt, taxes, fraud and degeneracy of morals. They warned us that no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Wrights has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states.