Hot Potato: Food for Thought
Where Did All the Money Go?
1997 July 07

During the war in Vietnam, America was not particularly aware of the financial costs of the war, because they were mostly covered by deficit spending. The result, beginning around 1970, was intractable inflation (worsened by the two oil shocks later in the decade). The costs are still there, in the national debt, and the nation will continue to pay for that war until the national debt has been paid off.

Wars are expensive. America spent a fortune fighting WW II and a smaller fortune rebuilding Europe (Japan was mostly left to its own devices, a story for another time).

Leaving aside the moral issues, the US would do well to approach any potential armed conflict with an eye on the financial costs, which are always enormous and more than anticipated. There is no longer a good reason for America to remain the world's policeman, a role which is really appropriate for the UN.

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