National Security

Economic Consequences of WOT

By Rana Athar Javed

Because of the war on terror (WOT), a large segment of world population face socioeconomic deprivation and  unemployment The consequences of war on terror continue to affect the economic future of hundreds of millions young people. The central feature here is that strategic agenda of the US to counter terrorism stems from the doctrine to “live with terrorism”, an approach that has teetered the trust of people in democracy and state. Primarily, terrorists are being recognized as “game changers” in sovereign states, and thereby granting monopoly of organized violence and destruction of property. The Western countries, especially the US is struggling at economic front, but still seeks to define identity and values of other cultures. From a risk prospective, the fascination to appreciate American values is turning into fear of losing socioeconomic interests to Western military projects.

These new dilemmas also include the way job market and society in the US interprets the needs of thousands of unemployed soldiers who have returned from duties in Afghanistan and Iraq. Painting a very gloom picture and gravity of the matter in one of the US states, a report published in the Washington Post (March 20, 2013) states that, “this is what the end of a decade of war looked like in Oklahoma a few weeks ago: ex-soldiers in cheap new business suits; human resources managers with salesman smiles and stacks of glossy fliers; a former Marine speaking to a television news crew about the “tough times” and “nightmares” he has had since coming home.” The loss of purchasing power too contributes to the social exclusion process, and thus opens up further complexities including psychological instability, and use of violence against the state entities.

In addition, elsewhere the Americans are weary of future economic consequences of wars and many more risks are waiting. This means a gradual recalibrating of war on terror doctrine needs a meaningful logic, especially in terms of American strategists to produce a sustainable economic stability program for those nations, which sacrificed thousands of their citizens and billions of dollars in economic losses. Responses to new strategy will sequentially prevent economic related collateral damage in the ongoing war on terror. Another statement of a US soldier demonstrates that it’s a huge issue, because, “hard choices always have to be made and it is worth considering how different people view these choices. The basic argument is that a soldier must have done a lot in Afghanistan, but it is difficult for him to “make employers see it.” “It’s not something that an employer value,” The character of this remark reflects reasons beyond economic consequences. Fundamentally, only ending combating missions in Afghanistan would not end war related activities at home. The economic rehabilitation appears to be receiving a very limited attention in the US.

The business community in the mainstream US business is no longer relates the sacrifices of their military to “giving back” to society phenomenon. This does not mean that the US businesses have ceased to justify their role in the national rehabilitation process; it however has become increasingly difficult to assess the impacts of war at home, and process of reengaging their so-called war heroes in their economic benefits. According to an estimate, “the financial cost of the war on terror stands approximately at four trillion dollars. This cost is compounded by the “stagnation of middle class incomes, the inflation of health, education, food, and fuel prices, and record low tax revenue from upper income families and corporations.” It would be fair to suggest that if the current doctrine of war on terror hardens any further, the next American generations will be buried under debt.

In his research on economic, social and political consequences of war on terrorism, a former intelligence officer, Chris Davis described the current situation as, “the military continues to break its own suicide records and maintain higher-than-average domestic violence, divorce, and sexual assault rates, it decides to decrease the number of personnel available for worldwide military operations in favor of over-priced military platforms incapable of performing basic military tasks like surviving contact with the enemy. The high costs of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) are to be paid by sacrificing middle class benefits instead of balancing the obligations of all American taxpayers.” This costs also concerns future of war veterans, especially in terms of medical care and disability. According to an estimate, if war on terror and “other wars” continue, the US requires “at least another $450 billion in Pentagon spending by 2020”.

As the frontline state in war on terror, Pakistan’s example too perfectly “fits” in the frame under which fighting the menace of terrorism has ultimately disrupted its socioeconomic progress, and placed the entire population under socioeconomic stress. In the case of Pakistan, the war on terror has virtually reduced the confidence in the US/NATO economic policies including in the programs of International financial institutions, and thus increasing further risk perceptions; leading to lower rates of investment and lower economic growth.

To be concluded, it is logical to reconcile instead of increase the hostilities in conflict zones because using drone and other sophisticated war technology would cause more civilian deaths, and hence the revenge arracks and rise in violence. Reducing tensions and enhancing economic capacity are the basics to achieve peace in South Asia.