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Waging a war against any opponent has a huge impact on any nation. Its adverse effects are psychological, social, moral and economical. Although objectives if achieved through the war might prove to be beneficial in the long term but its takes decades to erase the memories of atrocities of war from the minds of general masses, especially those who are directly exposed to active warfare. Each injured soldier, demolished building and death anniversary deepens the agony of a common man. It is said a nation is pushed decades backwards in terms of economic growth after a war. In short, affording a war is not a cheaper option for any nation, irrespective of its economic power and USA is not an exception to this fact.
The rise in diplomacy than the military force in US foreign policy is also a by-product of economic burden that is showing its toll on US economy. According to US doctrine, America could have active engagements anywhere in the world for her interests. Previously the figure for armed conflict around the world was two full and one partial engagement. But after the economically expensive conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are forced to reduce that number one only. This change in doctrine is clearly evident from the reluctance displayed by Obama administration after the use of chemical weapons in Syria and Russian invasion of Ukraine. Pull out of Afghanistan is also a consequence of same change in doctrine.
Financial Implications of Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
Lawrence Lindsay, National Economic Council Director of President George Bush’s administration, in an interview to “The Wall Street Journal”, estimated expenses of war in Afghanistan and Iraq between $100 billion to $200 billion. Later, he was highly criticized by his own administration for being over optimistic and had to resign due to immense pressure from within government. He also claimed that wars will be funded out of oil revenue from Iraq but instead, the Bush administration had to borrow $2 trillion from various lenders to support the wars. According to a study carried at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, following are few financial implications of War chiefly financed by US:
(a) 20% of total national debt of US government was added from 2001 to 2012.
(b) A total of $260 billion has been paid as interest on war debt by US government.
(c) In the coming years, only the interest would amount to trillion of dollars.
(d) These wars are would result in amounting as high as $6 trillion as the cost of the wars.
(e) These calculations include the expenditures on 1.56 million veterans who are and will be a financial burden on US economy for their lives.
Rise in diplomacy than the military force
The statistics and research depict that the Obama administration does have an option but to resort to diplomacy. Liberal use of military might is not a luxury available to United States anymore. Time and again the demonstrations and anti war rallies are held in multiple US cities. The common American is not concerned with what is happening outside his small world. According to Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, $6 trillion is equivalent to $75000 for each household. This figure is more disturbing for general masses and the government is bending to the political pressure being exerted.
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As a consequence, Obama’s administration, after coming into office, had to shift the focus to resources in Asia. This new dimension was well supported by within government as well as by the neutral scholars and thinkers. The republicans based their election campaign on criticizing over spending on war in Asia. In the same continuation, the government’s decisions to initiate exit from Afghanistan, close the war in Iraq and counter al Qaeda with more accurate antiterrorism strategies has been welcomed and appreciated by all political entities in the country. This step has also enabled the state to cut short on budget and bring major shift in foreign policy towards diplomatic result oriented strategies
US Military Dimension
Focusing on its military dimensions alone, it was aimed at boosting the United States’ defense ties with countries throughout the world and expanding the US presence. Yet these objectives are only a small chunk of the overall strategy. Actually it has economic, diplomatic, and security objectives. The new strategy intends to reallocate resources not only toward the region but also within it, by engaging more with partners in Southeast Asia. The state department realizing the strategic importance of Indian Ocean has initiated and strengthened ties with India. This has also helped to achieve the goal of countering and controlling China as a mighty power in the region.
Military drawdown in Afghanistan
The U.S.-Afghanistan negotiations over keeping U.S. troops in the country after the “end of combat” in 2014 have hit a new snag. With elections scheduled for next spring, Karzai is eager to remain a player so he can help elect his chosen candidate. That may be the most significant reason for his recent rejection of an almost-completed deal with Washington, which would allow around 15,000 U.S. troops to remain in the country after the official end of combat in 2014. Karzai has now staked out a position refusing to grant the U.S. forces immunity from prosecution in Afghan courts for any crimes they might commit. And the U.S. is adamant that without immunity, the troops go home.
This isn’t a new idea – it’s the same issue that scuttled the potential for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq after the official withdrawal of combat troops. And it led to the complete pull-out of all U.S. troops and all Pentagon-paid contractors in 2011. In Afghanistan, we might actually see the withdrawal of all U.S. troops after more than twelve years of war and occupation.
Although the military aspects of the rebalancing strategy have garnered the most attention in the media, civilian departments and agencies have also begun to shift their priorities and resources to Asia. Under the guidance of Clinton and Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, the State Department has deepened U.S. diplomatic engagement throughout the region.
The glamorous aspects of the rebalancing toward Asia — the geopolitical maneuvers and machinations, the high-stakes diplomacy, the grand strategy — are only part of what will be required to make the policy successful. Just as crucial will be Washington’s focus on budgets, bureaucratic institutions, and personnel decisions, as well as its ability to continually assess the policy’s progress and identify areas for improvement. In an era of fiscal tightening, coming up with the necessary resources for such an ambitious program will not be easy. But because the Asia-Pacific region is fundamental to U.S. national security and the health of the U.S. economy, the rebalancing is the most valuable investment in U.S. foreign policy today
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