The Cost of War

The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report tracking spending in the Iraq War over the last eight years in comparison to the total national deficit. Fox News picked up the data in a recent article and compared the total cost of the war to the total cost of the recent Stimulus Bill. Here is what they said:

Congressional Budget Office numbers show that the total cost of the eight-year war was less than the stimulus bill passed by the Democratic-led Congress in 2009…the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom was $709 billion for military and related activities, including training of Iraqi forces and diplomatic operations. The projected cost of the stimulus…was $862 billion.

As a Christian, all I can say is that the premise of this perspective is horrible.

How do you count the cost of war? How many dollars will be spent in physical and mental treatment and therapy for American soldiers wounded and emotionally scarred in combat? How do you even calculate the cost of the loss of over 4,000 American lives? What about the cost to the Iraqi people? What about their injuries, destroyed cities, ruined economy, and lost lives, both civilian and combatant?

War is not an economic political argument. War is not justified because it “costs” less than some other political endeavor (if it is justified at all). War is a tragic human failure that deserves to be treated as such. There is no victory in war.

Our hope in Christ, on the other hand, is that He defeated His and all of our enemies by suffering and dying on a Roman cross and by rising from the dead three days later.

It was the most expensive battle ever fought: God, emptying Himself to take human form; cursed, shamed, and killed by His own creation. But it was the only battle that ever mattered. And it was the true cost of war.


6 thoughts on “The Cost of War

  1. The differences are simple. The wars cost death and destruction. The stimulus created jobs and provided money for building roads and bridges, it saved teachers’ jobs across the country, created jobs for millions of people, provided funding for renewable energy R&D, and many other things that have made our country better. The wars have not made our country better.

    It’s a matter of priorities.

    • Ben,

      Whether the stimulus bill worked or not, at least it didn’t kill anybody (that I know of). I am not entirely sold on the benefits of the bill, not sure what to believe about how many jobs it provided or where all the money went (or is still going), but the pros and cons of war are much clearer. Very negligible pros, very significant cons.

      And I think you’re right. It’s a matter of priorities. What is human life worth? That is the important question here.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. The taking of another human life is something that you never forget. You learn to live with it. Somedays are easier than others. But an innocent comment from a friend, a scene in a movie, a smell, a passage of scripture, anything can trigger that memory.

    There are so many advantages to being a christian today. Can we really comprehend what it would have been like to be a Jew that was commanded by God to wipe out a city or a people? Thankfully we have the good luck to be born in a time when that is not required of us.

    Someday we may be called upon to make a choice between stopping a “Hitler” or being a Neville Chamberlain. You don’t know what you will do until that day comes.

    As a general principle you have pointed out the greater cost. It is not money, it is the cost to our own souls and the lost opportunity to present the salvation plan to those that die in the conflict.


    • Larry,
      Thanks for pointing out what you did at the end of your comment here. I wanted to make more of it in the article, but didn’t want to take any more space…

      It really is a tragedy when we end the life of someone lost in sin. That aspect of the issue makes war an even greater tragedy.

      I just hope we Christians can recognize and admit the great evil in war. Even if many believe that war is often a “necessary evil” (I would argue evil is never necessary…but that’s for another day) they still must retain the “evil” and treat war accordingly. Even if it is “just” to stop a “Hitler” it is not necessarily good. War, even a “just war,” should not be celebrated.

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