Monday, April 04, 2005

The Cost of War

Today my International Ethics professor, who I also had as a prof in France (he's the Northwestern professor who comes along every year and teaches a class about France and the EU) made an interesting point about war: he said that for instance, in the time that Robert McNamara was Secretary of Defense, defense spending took up 10% of the United States's GDP (we just watched The Fog of War, a film that centers around a McNamara interview). He said that some military guys who he meets with a few times a year call war "making rubble"--basically, destruction. On the other hand, this professor said, construction of buildings can't consume that high a percent of our country's GDP. The idea is, look at how much effort is devoted to war, to making machines and people that can destroy versus building things.

In that vein, we also have to read a book called The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. O'Brien recounts when he received his draft notice in the mail: he had always opposed the war but was never too aware of how it could affect him personally since he had done well in college and was accepted to a graduate program at Harvard. I could picture someone my age who had been afforded the good fortune in life that I have been afforded, especially in terms of receiving a great education, in the same situation if Iraq escalates, and it is a pretty sobering thought.

Thus, I wish people who support a murkily-explained war like Iraq would think over what war means rather than reciting platitudes like "well, they had it coming" or "war must be fought" to justify the war. If, after thinking over the great costs of war, one still feels he/she can support a war like Iraq, for instance, I invite that person to enlist in the military.

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