Everyone knows that the too big to fails and their dishonest and footsy-playing regulators and politicians are largely responsible for trashing the economy. But the military-industrial complex shares much of the blame. Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that the Iraq war will cost $3-5 trillion dollars. Sure, experts say that the Iraq war has increased the threat of terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this. And we launched the Iraq war based on the false linkage of Saddam and 9/11, and knowingly false claims that Saddam had WMDs. And top British officials, former CIA director George Tenet, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and many others say that the Iraq war was planned before 9/11. But this essay is about dollars and cents. America is also spending a pretty penny in Afghanistan. The U.S. admits there are only a small handful of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As ABC notes: U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country. With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year. Sure, the government apparently planned the Afghanistan war before 9/11 (see this and this). And the Taliban offered to turn over Bin Laden (see this and this). And we could have easily killed Bin Laden in 2001 and again in 2007, but chose not to, even though that would have saved the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars in costs in prosecuting the Afghanistan war. But this essay is about dollars and cents. Increasing the Debt Burden of a Nation Sinking In Debt All of the spending on unnecessary wars adds up. The U.S. is adding trillions to its debt burden to finance its multiple wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc. Two top American economists - Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff - show that the more indebted a country is, with a government debt/GDP ratio of 0.9, and external debt/GDP of 0.6 being critical thresholds, the more GDP growth drops materially. Specifically, Reinhart and Rogoff write: The relationship between government debt and real GDP growth is weak for debt/GDP ratios below a threshold of 90 percent of GDP. Above 90 percent, median growth rates fall by one percent, and average growth falls considerably more. We find that the threshold for public debt is similar in advanced and emerging economies... Indeed, it should be obvious to anyone who looks at the issue that deficits do matter. A PhD economist told me: War always causes recession. Well, if it is a very short war, then it may stimulate the economy in the short-run. But if there is not a quick victory and it drags on, then wars always put the nation waging war into a recession and hurt its economy. You know about America's unemployment problem. You may have even heard that the U.S. may very well have suffered a permanent destruction of jobs. But did you know that the defense employment sector is booming? As I pointed out in August, public sector spending - and mainly defense spending - has accounted for virtually all of the new job creation in the past 10 years: Read More . . . James Madison knew and understood way way back when that "no nation could preserve it's freedom in the midst of continual warfare." Yet here we are today "the present generation enlightened as we are" (a bit of Sam Adams) waging continual warfare to preserve our freedom. Hmmmm. I wonder if it will work?