Since it began under former President George Bush, the Global War on Terror has been the longest-running war in US history. As of 2018, 2.77 million of our service members have deployed in support of these far-reaching conflicts. We’ve seen the cost of this intervention, both financial and humanitarian.
The war has cost American taxpayers a whopping $8 trillion. That is no chump change—but what about the human costs?
Well, the number of civilian casualties is around 360,000. But that number is most likely an underestimate, as it doesn’t include the civilian casualties from our operations in countries like Nigeria.
On top of those civilian casualties, we’ve also lost approximately 7,000 of our warfighters. Yet even that number is not truly accurate because of missing data from a few countries.
Still, that is at least 7,000 families who will never see their brothers, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, wives, or husbands again. That is at least 7,000 souls lost thanks to the war industry’s lies. Those lies, however, have even more victims than the dead and their families.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, up to 20% of veterans of the War on Terror suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is likely an underestimate, however, due to the military’s culture which unfortunately treats mental illness as weakness.
It wasn’t just active-duty units who made these sacrifices. In fact, more than 40% of deployed troops during the Global War on Terror were members of the National Guard. They too need our support.
Everybody has heard the tragic stories of suicide plaguing veterans after they return home. If our politicians and society truly care about the military and veteran communities, we owe it to them to stop sending them into harm’s way for causes that do not threaten our national security.
How can we do this? The only answer is to stop unconstitutional wars.
Congress has not properly declared war on any country or group we have fought since World War II. Instead, they’ve authorized the president to engage our military in wars, and various presidents have then stretched those authorizations far beyond their original scope. We can and should force Congress to declare war in accordance with our founding document before sending our soldiers to die overseas.
“Defend the Guard” legislation is one way we could ensure this happens. The best news? It can be done locally by state legislatures. This kind of public policy would force Congress to properly declare war before any members of that state’s National Guard can be federally mobilized for combat.
Such actions would save lives, conserve American tax dollars, and get back to the constitutional restraints our founders laid out for war in the beginning.