What Did We Buy With the $5 Trillion That the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars Have Cost Us?

Posted on Sep 13, 2016
truthdig.com
By Juan Cole

A Brown University political scientist estimates that as of 2016, The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have cost the American taxpayers $5 trillion. That number isn’t important when we consider the human cost: Some 7,000 US troops dead, 52,000 wounded in action; hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead who wouldn’t otherwise be, 4 million displaced and made homeless, etc.

Just to put that $5 trillion in perspective. Let’s say you chose five individuals. Each of the five will spend $10 million a day. That’s the cost of Heidi Klum’s mansion. They’d be buying the equivalent of five of those each day.

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US at the Crossroads: Start a New Nuclear Arms Race? Or Address Climate Change and Human Needs?

The following article was written by Kevin Martin, President of our Affiliate group Peace Action and published in Common Dreams.

Friday, September 30, 2016
Common Dreams
by Kevin Martin

What if I have little time left? How should I spend my time? Most people face these questions in terms of their own lifespans. But what if the subject of these sentences changes from “I” to “we?” What if the subject is not an individual, but humanity? What if climate change is shortening our human lifespan (and that of many species) to just a few decades?

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We Refuse To Be Targets in This Nuclear World

by Paul A. Olson, President Emeritus of Nebraskans for Peace and Kevin Martin, Executive Director of Peace Action

When Barack Obama was elected president, one of his stated hopes was the global elimination of nuclear weapons. Now that he is about to conclude his presidency, his hope (expressed in his visit to Hiroshima) is still that such weapons might be eliminated. But serious steps toward the elimination of nuclear weapons never happen. Almost a decade ago, four of our most powerful retired politicians—Sam Nunn, George Shultz, Henry Kissinger and William Perry—called for an initiative to end nuclear weapons, and nothing happened. Now William Perry, President Clinton’s former Secretary of Defense has written a book in which he argues, “Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War, and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.” And still, nothing happens.

Recently, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano said, “Terrorism is spreading and the possibility of using nuclear material cannot be excluded” and argued for strengthened nuclear security against the use of fissile materials by terrorists. Indeed, Belgian police investigating the November 13 Paris terror attacks found ten hours of videotaping of a Belgian nuclear official located in the hands of known terrorists. What the jihadists would have done with the nuclear official or his information, had they gone further or been able to acquire radioactive material, can only be guessed. Today, we have over 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world and tons of fissionable material floating around—enough to destroy virtually all cultures. In addition, we have many scientists with the knowledge to provide nuclear weapons information to rogue regimes as did Pakistan’s Abdul Qadeer Khan, perhaps with the assistance of the Pakistani army.

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A Stark Nuclear Warning

Jerry Brown
The New York Review of Books
July 14, 2016 Issue

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink
by William J. Perry, with a foreword by George P. Shultz
Stanford Security Studies, 234 pp., $85.00; $24.95 (paper)

I know of no person who understands the science and politics of modern weaponry better than William J. Perry, the US Secretary of Defense from 1994 to 1997. When a man of such unquestioned experience and intelligence issues the stark nuclear warning that is central to his recent memoir, we should take heed. Perry is forthright when he says: “Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”1 He also tells us that the nuclear danger is “growing greater every year” and that even a single nuclear detonation “could destroy our way of life.”

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Nuclear security: Continuous Improvement or Dangerous Decline?

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist
Matthew Bunn, Martin B. Malin, Nickolas Roth, William Tobey
27 March 2016

World leaders face a stark choice at the final Nuclear Security Summit later this week: Will they commit to efforts that continue to improve security for nuclear weapons, fissile materials, and nuclear facilities, or will the 2016 summit be seen in retrospect as the point at which attention drifted elsewhere, and nuclear security stalled and began to decline? The answer will shape the chances that terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, could get their hands on the materials they need to build a crude nuclear bomb.

In a report we published late in March, we outline the shape of the threat and the steps that must be taken to keep potential nuclear bomb material out of terrorist hands.

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