For two years now, horrific images from a brutal civil war in Syria, have dominated mainstream news in the U.S. Our military is ready to strike at a moment’s notice, while President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have made it clear that the “red line” has been crossed. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. will step in and use its wealth of military resources to intervene, which will ultimately become a costly effort for the the U.S. Are we, as students, prepared to support that endeavor?
In an unclassified letter written by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, to Senator Carl Levin, that was released last month, the price for the prospective fight in Syria was advertised at over $500 million – a cheap price, relative to other wars the U.S. has fought in the Middle East, especially when you don’t take into account the inevitable loss of human life these strikes will have. What happens if the conflict spirals out of control? The isolated campaign that Obama is pursuing could quickly ignite a fuse in the Middle East, leading to something much more dire.
If the lives of American troops, or Israeli civilians become endangered, the U.S. might be dragged into yet another prolonged war in the Gulf Region. With foreign fighters and aid flooding into Syria from Hezbollah, Iran and who knows where else, a war could be drastically different, more dangerous and costlier than Chairman Dempsey or President Obama have acknowledged.
Many students may not see how this issue could effect them personally, but the costs of war limit our nation’s ability to prosper, which certainly does affect you. I struggle as a college student every day. I go a few weeks at a time without doing groceries sometimes, work 30 hours a week to put myself through school, and at the end of the spring when I receive my degree, I’m looking at either another two to three years of school or pretty bleak employment prospects. While the price in pursuing education continues to climb and the economy continues to stagnate, an additional war in the Middle East will put the U.S. in an even tougher economic spot.
Our operation in Iraq has cost more than $810 billion since the initial invasion a decade ago. The war in Afghanistan has a price tag of over $650 billion to date and counting. The shorter intervention in Libya, which ran from April 1, 2011 to September 30, 2011 still cost the U.S. over a billion dollars.
Could this money have been spent elsewhere? On strengthening the middle class, providing an education to everyone who wanted one and even reforming health care in a way that actually benefited everyday Americans? These are all ideas the Obama administration has peddled, but ideas that will not come to fruition when this much money is being pumped into needless wars around the world.
This piece was contributed by Dylan Lajoie – a senior political science major with a concentration in international studies. The Free Press welcomes continuing dialogue on the subject. Letters can be sent to [email protected].