Opinion | What the War in Ukraine Has Truly Cost Us

I will never forget the stories I heard on the Ukraine-Polish border a year ago: Newlyweds parted hours after saying their vows so the groom could return to the front. A Boston tax preparer quit his job to return to Ukraine with suitcases full of medical supplies. Wife of a border guard who made the three-hour round trip from Lviv to the Polish border almost daily to drop off fleeing women and children and retrieve weapons and supplies.

The a year The mark of this terrible war brings with it many emotions, including deep admiration for the Ukrainian people and disappointment at the ongoing Russian offensive. But another feeling also emerges, which cannot be said enough: horror at the spectacular waste of war.

It’s sad that humanity survived deadly waves of Covid only to get right back to its usual business of killing each other. It makes no sense to spend tens of billions of dollars on rockets, tanks and other aid, as more is needed to help communities adapt to rising seas and dry rivers. It’s crazy that the farmers in a world bread basket had to hide from hunger in a bomb shelter. It’s crazy that Vladimir Putin declared Ukrainians part of his people – just before he sent his army into the country, where Russian soldiers were accused deflower And homicidalcivilian.

The government launched the war. They talk about victory because it gives the soldiers hope and the will to fight. But in the end, war is death in a muddy foxhole. It’s a fight for survival on a frozen field no strategic value. It is generational hatred that spawns new generation hatred. It’s a 11 billion dollars, about 740 miles long pipeline placed on the Baltic Sea became useless overnight. Those are some of the biggest steel mills in Europe can’t produce or ship a single sheet of metal. It’s a charming seaside city emptied by bombings and sieges.

When a country is fighting for its survival, such as Ukraine, the ability to wage war is essential. Indeed, it can feel like the only thing that really matters. But it’s also true that our common prosperity as humans depends on the absence of war, which gives people the breathing space they need to farm, trade, make breakthroughs. science and art.

The economic rewards reaped in the absence of war can be difficult to quantify. But researchers report that peace is terribly profitable. Institute of Economics and Peace, a nonpartisan think tank, scores peace on factors such as “good neighborly relations”, corruption, free flow of information, and representative governance. Its recent report shows that countries with improvements in peace between 2009 and 2020 also have GDP per capita increasing by an average of 3.1% per year. Countries where peace deteriorated grew only 0.4 percent per year.

Putin’s war in Ukraine has made us all poorer, hungrier and more insecure. Although the world has so far avoided the destruction of nuclear war, it has not avoided the slow bullet of the economic downturn that both sides have guaranteed.

Real global income this year could be $2.8 trillion less because of Russia’s invasion, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Yuri Zhukov, an associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan, estimates that Ukrainian towns that have spent at least a month on the frontline have seen their economic activity cut by about half. . He’s using the light emissions seen from space as a proxy for economic activity in heavily shelled areas.

“In essence, war is basically stupid business,” Gerard DiPippo, a former CIA analyst who now works for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me. “If all you cared about was maximizing economic output and security, you would almost never choose to go to war.”

Mr. DiPippo studies the impact of sanctions on Russia as well as the possible economic consequences if China invades Taiwan. His rating? Even if President Xi Jinping were to recapture the island, the price he would have to pay in losing his economic and diplomatic influence would make it a Pyrrhic victory. The cost would be dire, for both China and the United States. According to a year 2016 RAND Corporation researcha year-long clash could limit China’s GDP by 25% to 35% and US GDP by 10%.

“China could have won Taiwan but had to sacrifice its larger ambition of becoming a global and comprehensive superpower.” DiPippo and a co-author wrote for CSIS

It is hoped that the devastation in Ukraine will help convince Chinese leaders that the reunification of Taiwan by force will be a self-defeating policy. But nations always make mistakes in catastrophic military conflicts. Building mutual weapons is one reason. Another is that leaders often downplay their costs and underestimate the benefits of peace.

America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a prime example. Those wars are considered emergency expenses for a decade, and sponsor Linda Bilmes, author of an upcoming book on ghost budgets that paid for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, says outside of the Pentagon’s base budget for the second decade, avoids financial scrutiny common sense and scrutinize the entire cost.

With the war in Ukraine, the United States once again underestimated the cost of our involvement, as replacing weapons already given to Ukraine would likely cost 10% to 30% more on average than at their present value, says Dr. Bilmes. To date, there have been no serious attempts to estimate or budget for the long-term costs of this war.

Acknowledging the true costs of war — and the benefits of peace — does not mean that we will lose the will to fight. On the contrary, an honest explanation of what war is and what it costs is essential to winning it in the long run.


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