S3, Episode 4: The Forever War (Mar. 16, 2019)

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This year will mark the 18th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, the forever war characterized by regime change, a surge, drawdowns, and then re-engagement across three Presidential administrations. We take a retrospective of the entire war, from the forgotten events of the lead-up to its total financial and moral costs to date. Journalist Douglas Wissing and Professor Neta Crawford of the Cost of War project take us through the staggering amounts of money spent on prosecuting the war and the development of Afghanistan, and we investigate where the money went. Veterans who served at each stage of the conflict, from the Gen Xers of the early days to the millennials of the Obama surge, give us the changing, and unchanging picture of the unending war. Finally, philosopher Seth Lazar and Barry talk about sunk costs and the role that thinking about past sacrifices play in rationalizing the indefinite continuation of war.

Special thanks the veterans who gave their stories for this episode, Ian Fishback, Joshua Maxwell, Gaven Eier, Pat DeYoung, and Romario Ortiz.

Douglas Wissing’s books on Afghanistan, Funding the Enemy, and Hopeless but Optimistic.

Neta Crawford’s Cost of War Project. Budgetary Costs of post 9/11 wars through fiscal year 2018.

Seth Lazar’s Moral Sunk Costs.