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We are Better off Empowering Nations, Rather than Bombing them

We are Better off Empowering Nations, Rather than Bombing them

To create peace and stability in other nations, we must elevate their people to prosperity, instead of crushing them.

Analysis | Global Crises
In the aftermath of September 11, almost everyone was convinced that a quick and powerful military response would teach them an unforgettable lesson. We thought this would prevent future threats to our homeland and ultimately make the world a better place.We were wrong.The ensuing American military campaigns in the Middle East proved themselves to be costly mistakes with many unintended consequences. What began as an isolated counterinsurgency in Afghanistan quickly spread to Iraq, Libya, Syria, and most recently, Yemen. And for the trillions of dollars the United States spends engaging in its so-called "war on terror,” it is rewarded with more extremism, poverty, and spiralling death tolls across the increasingly destabilized Middle East.If stability and democracy were the goals, neither were ever achieved.If we want lasting peace and prosperity for other nations (rather than short-lived military victories), we need to help these countries grow. Put simply, we should spend less on advancing drone warfare and more on building schools.Although the costs of war have been heavily criticized, it still raises eyebrows when compared to some recent controversial policy issues at home. Consider the following figure that shows multiple legislative items and their respective costs.Screen-shot-2020-02-07-at-11.01.33-amFirst, notice the cost of war. Recent estimates of the total cost of the wars (since 2001) is around $5.9 trillion, based on expenditures from the U.S. Treasury and future commitments (including the medical and disability claims of U.S. war veterans). This cost is several orders of magnitude greater than any other internal policy issue (for instance, it is 6 times the cost of the 10-year Obamacare plan and 15 times the annual cost of public education in the U.S.). The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost American taxpayers at least $757 billion and $975 billion respectively. The two sums are more than enough to cancel out all student debt — a promise made by several 2020 presidential contenders.In addition to the obvious military costs, there are many hidden costs for our many missed opportunities,  the chance of investing war dollars in alternative sectors and to tackle the problems in radically different ways to create a much more prosperous future for the people of these countries. Unfortunately, prosperity was never an intention.For perspective, consider the annual costs for education in Iraq and Afghanistan relative to American military spending in the figure below. The United States’ annual military expenditure dwarfs the investments of each country toward their respective education systems. Imagine if the United States chose to dedicate part of its military budget toward securing access to education for the millions of children (1.2 million Iraqi and 3.7 million Afghan children) who have yet to step inside of a classroom and are most vulnerable to recruitment and radicalization. Screen-shot-2020-02-07-at-11.01.43-amSuppose the United States chose to prioritize a non-military intervention over warfare in its quest to counter the influence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda? Imagine an alternative world where, instead of relying on troops unfamiliar with the multifaceted societies of Afghanistan and Iraq, we empowered their citizens: by investing in their infrastructure, hospitals and schools; financing educational programs, and creating incentives for trade.It is in the interest of the United States (and other world powers) to help build a prosperous Middle East; A prosperity that allows all citizens, not just the wealthy few, to have access to education, to be connected to the world, and trade freely is good for us all.If we want to cultivate a culture of tolerance, we must facilitate interactions between our cultures.  Entrepreneurs in Baghdad and Gaza should be encouraged to trade and connect with businesspeople based out of New York and Tel Aviv. By harnessing these opportunities to communicate, we can work toward achieving understanding and mutual respect.Unfortunately, we have taken several steps backwards by creating divisions, applying sanctions, and making trade more difficult. In an environment that embraces an us vs. them mindset, tolerance is easily abandoned.The United States is harming itself and the people of other countries by creating an endless cycle of violence. Instead of making us safer, this addiction to warfare leaves our own society in danger by sowing resentment abroad. While war does little to prevent terrorism, empowering societies suffering from the influence of radicalization can help eradicate it.
Students leaving school in Kabul, Afghanistan. September 2019 (via Shutterstock)||
Analysis | Global Crises
The Ukraine War at two years: By the numbers


KYIV, UKRAINE - July 12, 2023: Destroyed and burned Russian military tanks and parts of equipment are exhibited at the Mykhailivska square in Kyiv city centre. (Oleksandr Popenko/Shutterstock)

The Ukraine War at two years: By the numbers

Europe

Two years ago on Feb. 24, 2022, the world watched as Russian tanks rolled into the outskirts of Kyiv and missiles struck the capital city.

Contrary to initial predictions, Kyiv never fell, but the country today remains embroiled in conflict. The front line holds in the southeastern region of the country, with contested areas largely focused on the Russian-speaking Donbas and port cities around the Black Sea.

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Navalny's death shouldn't close off talks with Putin

A woman lays flowers at the monument to the victims of political repressions following the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in Moscow, Russia February 16, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

Navalny's death shouldn't close off talks with Putin

Analysis

President Biden was entirely correct in the first part of his judgment on the death of Alexei Navalny: “Putin is responsible, whether he ordered it, or he is responsible for the circumstances he put that man in.” Even if Navalny eventually died of “natural causes,” his previous poisoning, and the circumstances of his imprisonment, must obviously be considered as critical factors in his death.

For his tremendous courage in returning to Russia after his medical treatment in the West — knowing well the dangers that he faced — the memory of Navalny should be held in great honor. He joins the immense list of Russians who have died for their beliefs at the hands of the state. Public expressions of anger and disgust at the manner of his death are justified and correct.

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Big US investors prop up the nuclear weapons industry

ProStockStudio via shutterstock.com

Big US investors prop up the nuclear weapons industry

Military Industrial Complex

Nuclear weapons aren’t just a threat to human survival, they’re a multi-billion-dollar business supported by some of the biggest institutional investors in the U.S. according to new data released today by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and PAX, the largest peace organization in the Netherlands.

For the third year in a row, globally, the number of investors in nuclear weapons producers has fallen but the overall amount invested in these companies has increased, largely thanks to some of the biggest investment banks and funds in the U.S.

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Israel-Gaza Crisis

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