Suggestions for expanding the
definition of "cost of war."
(The current Iraq War is used as the example for collecting costs)
1) Continue to count casualties
a) number of people who lost their life
i) Side A
ii) Side B
iii) By-standers, non-combatants
b) number of people who were injured (physically, emotionally)
2) Continue to capture monetary costs, and include:
i) DoD, CIA, and other out sourced cost to contractors (there are some estimates that there were as many “contractors” involved in war related efforts as there were combat soldiers.)
hidden costs and liens on the future (TBD)
b) our "allies" investment in this ongoing effort.
c) UN costs if applicable
d) Cost to the Iraqi people
i) the cost of their internal efforts to bring about stability
ii) the cost of rebuilding the infrastructure that we destroyed
iii) the cost of rebuilding the infrastructure that "insurgents" have recently destroyed
e) Other "aid" going to Iraq
i) to support the “insurgents”
ii) to help rebuild their oil producing facilities - perhaps from US oil companies (that will eventually be passed along to US consumers in higher gasoline prices)
3) Monetary cost for the loss of life based on the lost earning power of those who died in this war. (i.e similar to compensation provided families of those who died on 9/11/01)
a) US and Ally military losses (deaths),
b) Iraqi and "insurgent" military losses (death),
c) US and Ally civilian losses (deaths),
d) Iraqi and civilian losses (death)
4) Acknowledge that war temporally injures humans (e.g. broken limbs, cuts, contusions, etc. as well as stress related injuries). There is a cost to the global community as a result of the required rehabilitation services to restore these people to as good a condition as we are able.
a) US and Ally military casualties (injuries),
b) Iraqi and "insurgent" casualties (injuries),
c) US and Ally civilian casualties (injuries),
d) Iraqi and civilian casualties (injuries)
5) Acknowledge that war permanently maims humans (e.g. loss of limbs, brain injuries, loss of sight, hearing, etc.). There is a cost to the global community as a result of their loss in productivity over their remaining life expectancy.
a) US and Ally military permanent disability / loss of productivity,
b) Iraqi and "insurgent" permanent disability / loss of productivity,
c) US and Ally civilian permanent disability / loss of productivity,
d) Iraqi and civilian permanent disability / loss of productivity
6) Acknowledge the cost of the psychological impacts of war.
a) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) still remains a little acknowledged cost of war.
i) combatants / paramedics suffer
1) suicide rates for returning war veterans has become an epidemic. Veterans return home from the front lines psychologically wounded only to confront structural violence. When a psychologically wounded solder returns home and confronts a lack of opportunity for mental health care, a lack of acknowledgement by the public that PTSD is a real health issue, they routinely are unable to heal themselves and choose to end their own life. Recent example: Army medic Pfc. Joseph Dwyer
who directly experience the effects of war suffer
b) Emotional Stress of family.
i) when small children say goodbye to a parent who is leaving to go into combat, we can see the emotional stress they are experiencing. We would expect a reduction in the ability of those left behind to function normally. The parent left behind is now under increased stress to "make ends meet" (often with a reduced family income), the children's psychological frame of mind probably affects their ability to learn and receive their education.
ii) "family members" grieve for every person who is killed or injured. During this time of grief (which may last a lifetime), we can not expect these family members to be a meaningful contributor to society (a loss/cost to the world). Depending on how well they process grief, these family members may emerge from their grief in a range of psychological states. Some may be able to "move on" and regain their position in society; others will not be able to leave behind their loss and will emerge with bitterness, hate and even rage - often resulting in further violence (e.g. the birth of new terrorists). The cost of hate is hard to estimate but that is no reason not to try to consider it.
7) There is a cost to our planet when we expend resources just to destroy things. There is a cost when we build things that destroy other things. Some of these costs may be already considered in item #1, but the cost of oil consumed in sabotaged pipe lines, the cost of polluting the air with toxic chemicals from weapons of destruction, the contamination of water, the destruction of other living creatures in the "battlefield" is also a cost to our world community.
8) There is another cost that is hard to define. It is a cost to the larger community because war "diverts" our thoughts from constructive / positive endeavors. It is a "lost opportunity" cost.
a) When we read the paper or watch the news on TV that reports the "progress of the war" we are spending less time with our families, our recreation, our education, our hobbies, or other constructive / positive things humans are capable of doing.
b) Often after seeing/hearing these reports, we are left with a sense of fear or a sense of frustration about the insanity of the whole thing, or a feeling of hatred, or a feeling to seek revenge. Frames of reference that are not conducive to human growth.
9) Other costs (To Be Defined)
Obviously, attempting to collect these additional "costs" will require additional effort and inputs from a number of other "specialists." But it is time that we have a open and full accounting of the cost of managing conflict with the use of physical force, and compare that cost to the cost of effective nonviolent alternatives.
Understand and acknowledging the true cost of war also gives us an idea on how much we can “invest” in developing nonviolent alternatives and still realize a cost benefit.