After 13 years of war and trillions of dollars in military spending, is the U.S. any safer? According to a top Pentagon official, "My quick answer is that we're not."
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is the outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He shared his thoughts during a discussion at the Aspen Security Forum last week.
"We have a whole gang of new actors out there that are far more extreme than Al Qaeda," he said. "That ideology is actually, sadly, it feels like it's exponentially growing."
The numbers: America's fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have led directly to 350,000 deaths, according to Costs of War, a non-partisan research project based at Brown University. Of those, as many as 220,000 were civilians.
Image credit: Costs of War
On the economic side of things, our wars have cost $4.4 trillion and counting, according to Costs of War. That figure doesn't include interest on borrowing for the military expenditures, which could add up to an extra $1 trillion by 2023 or even $7 trillion by 2053.
Image credit: Mother Jones
This is the part where you remember that the Bush administration estimated that the Iraq War would cost $55 billion in 2003.
No lessons learned: Despite those statistics, and the warnings of military officials like Flynn, some Bush-era politicians are a little too eager to get back to the good ol' days of being knee-deep in wars.
Chief among them is Dick Cheney, who essentially went on a non-apology tour earlier this year, saying he had no regrets about the Iraq War and (vaguely) advocating for further military action and general craziness.
Don't listen to Dick Cheney. Do listen to overwhelming numbers and concerns from our current military officials. This is where war has gotten us — let's try something a little different.