War Costs of Yesterday and Today

It is difficult to skirt the issues associated with high war costs. For instance, even though the United States still has troops deployed overseas, many have questioned their high military budget. On the other side of the coin, some analysts have previously stated that pending military cuts in the United Kingdom would have made it all but impossible for them to fight the Second World War if it were to occur today. There may be no surefire solution to debates over military budgets in various nations, but an analysis of war costs both past and present may help to elucidate the true consequences of military conflicts.

As previously mentioned, WWII was incredibly expensive. So expensive in fact, that it still ranks today as the most expensive military conflict in the history of the United States. The war costs were somewhere over $4 trillion, not to mention the extreme loss of life incurred by all sides. Many European nations had to foot the bill for the damage done during Nazi occupation, and the United States spent $64 billion on tanks alone, not to mention more than $100 billion on all other combined weaponry (including the atom bomb).

While WWII was expensive, the United States is currently given those expenditures a run for their money with the ongoing invasion of Iraq. Some even predict that it might not be long before the costs of the war on terror overtake those of WWII. The United States simply underestimated the difficulty of the invasion, anticipating a much shorter conflict with far fewer insurgencies. The rising military budget has had an impact on other national budget concerns, such as healthcare and education.

Wartime expenditures have been an issue since long before now, and even well before the 1940s. Much like the current situation in Iraq, many believed that the conflict between the Union and the Confederacy would be brief. However, Civil War costs necessitated tax hikes and numerous other ways of raising quick money. Many profiteers took advantage of the situation, overcharging for supplies that barely worked. Some of their scams would later be repeated in contemporary battles by companies such as Halliburton, the Salon reports.

Clearly, war costs have been an issue for well over one hundred years, and the issue has continued into the present day. To some extent, it is necessary to raise budgets to keep troops fed and well-armed. This necessity, however, leads some to question whether certain conflicts such as the invasion of Iraq should ever have been entertained in the first place. With hundreds of billions of dollars spent on nuclear weapons that are not even really used, many feel that war costs could easily be lessened.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE