President Barack Obama insisted last week that as the nation confronts record government debt and pressing economic needs at home, it cannot afford a lengthy, ambitious nation-building effort in Afghanistan -- but limiting U.S. involvement is unlikely to make much of a dent in the record federal debt. Liberals complain the war has been a big contributor to the nation's budget problems, and are insisting some way be found to pay for the buildup. But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though they have virtually all been funded by deficit spending, are not the main reason why the publicly held national debt has more than doubled -- from $3.339 trillion to $7.709 trillion -- since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "It's a small part of the deficit,"' said Todd Harrison, fellow in defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington research group. That's not to say the war costs don't matter.
How can someone discuss "the costs of war" without discussing the human cost, in dead and wounded?