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The Last American Veteran of World War I and the Costs of War

The Boston Globe

World War I veterans still have no national memorial. There has been no Hollywood blockbuster in recent years to bring their story to life. But they still have Frank Buckles. More than 90 years after he fudged his age to join the Army, Corporal Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I, came to the Pentagon yesterday to represent the more than two million "doughboys" who braved the trench warfare and gas attacks of the "The Great War." (...)
Now, Buckles is the last flesh-and-blood reminder of the 116,000 Americans who gave their lives to save Europe at the start of the 20th century.

Wikipedia tries to document the surviving veterans from all World War I combatant nations.

The surviving veterans remind us that the era of wars between the world's major powers is not ancient history. I wonder what these veterans think when they hear how today's politicians talk about the risks of terrorism. Do they think that this is just scare-mongering to win votes and that we shall consider ourselves to be lucky to live in such peaceful times? That Al Qaeda is just a nuissance compared to the Wehrmacht or the Red Army?

The human and financial costs of WWI were huge. America's current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are also expensive: $3.5 billion per week, according to William Hartung. German Joys quotes some comparisons from his article: The "whole international community spends less than $400 million per year on the International Atomic Energy Agency, the primary institution for monitoring and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons; that's less than one day's worth of war costs." And the US government's yearly budget for combating global warming is as big as two weeks of expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and combating global warming are at least as important as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Julianne Smith and Alexander Lennon of the Center for Strategic and International Studies contend that climate change will further disrupt the stability of already volatile regions, which has the potential of producing multitudes of discontented individuals prone to radicalization...


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Pat Patterson on :

Does that mean we need to start worrying about terrorists coming from Iceland or Tonga? And I suppose that doubling the budget of the IAEA would also have doubled the amount of nations renouncing their nuclear weapons programs?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Re your first "question": Please read the article I linked to. Re your second "question": Sure, doubling the money or the number of troops does not always work. But what's the alternative to IAEA? Can't IAEA be made better with more money? IAEA's job description is more than just Iran.

Pat Patterson on :

At the height of the "drought" in Ethiopia during the Mengitsu regime that country was an exporter of grains. There was plenty for the population but it was more profitable for that Marsxist regime to sell to others. But it was easier to blame claimte change much as a shortage of tortillas is somehow blamed on dry condititons in Oaxaca and Sinaloa rather than the increased of ethanol in the US and it being more profitable to ship north. Your first link is a steady diet of could, might and possibly but not one factual example of where global warming has created a situation where unrest as occurred. As to the IAEA I would simply remind that they had no inkling of the advanced programs of Libya and any work they did in the DPRK was at the behest and assistance of the US and France. But then they've got a Nobel and now have visions of accomplishing even more of nothing with a bigger budget.

Pamela on :

Well to answer your question about verterans' opinions vis a vis terrorism, would my father's count? He was WW II. He had a two word solution. "Nuke Mecca". As for globular worming - the efforts to combat this fraud are already costing global economies - so yes, that does become a strategic problem. Aren't you glad I stopped by? ;)

quo vadis on :

So, the US can't afford to fund all these worthy international efforts because of war costs. What's Europe's excuse?

Zyme on :

Our citizens´ welfare comes first! :)

Joe Noory on :

That Julianne Smith and Alexander Lennon would conflate the two issues tellse you how very little personal investment that they have in either of teh issues. It makes it awfully easy to wring ones' hands about them if they bear no responsibility for the action they aren't taking to effect the situation. In other words, it's a chickenhawk argument for think-tankers.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

I don't see what is wrong with conflating the two issues. Climate change would lead to more political unrest, which could lead to failing states and terrorism. This reasoning is hypothetical and long-term. Just like the Iraq war reasoning from 2003: Invading Iraq => democracy and liberty in Iraq => spread of democracy by example in the Arab world => Less Anti-Americanism => Less terrorism.

Joe Noory on :

I do. Resolution of one has absolutely no effect on the other. zip. zilch. Nada. The GDP spent on defense, the smallest in history, doesn't undermine environmental efforts one bit. What we see here is a rather veneer-thin use of one as leverage for the other. In other words: you must do all of these things, because it requires that one doesn't so much accept the argument's persuasiveness, but need to buy into the entirely of the world view. Phooey. Why not throw in some equally unrelated business about gender, housing, athletic doping, fair trade chocolate, and anything else that people get sold hard on? The fact that any and all of those issues are pushed to the front of people's minds through repetition doesn't connect them in any way. Trying to solve them as a related set only leaves an awkward designed-by-committee institution/legacy/burden that it will take years to sort out to make functional. In the modern age, no natural disaster had deterministically insured the dreation of unrest. Not once. That's a legacy from an age where nourishment couldn't and wouldn't be moved to where it's needed in the age of mass migration.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

I have cross-posted this blog post on The Moderate Voice and received [url=][u]a comment from Jim Satterfield[/u][/url] pointing to the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City.

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