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Why we underestimate the true long-term costs of wars 🎧

Tanisha Fazal discusses her new book on how advances in military medicine help more soldiers survive.

- July 11, 2024

In the latest Good Authority podcast, I talked with University of Minnesota professor Tanisha Fazal about her new book, Military Medicine and the Hidden Costs of War (Oxford University Press, 2024). The book documents how major changes in military medicine have dramatically reduced American fatalities in the wars fought by the United States. This is obviously great news. However, it also leads the U.S. to dramatically underestimate the costs of war. Presidents are often very sensitive to the flag-draped caskets being returned to the United States from overseas wars. But non-fatal battlefield injuries often result in long-lasting consequences for those who have served in the military, their families, and the U.S. Treasury. Leaders often don’t fully consider these long-tail costs when making decisions to enter into wars.

We talked about why the ratio of wounded to killed has shifted so much, how Civil War pensions became the largest single source of expenditure for the federal government, and why the U.S. has not developed better ways to foresee how expensive wars tend to be. Finally, we talked about how to improve the way the U.S. estimates the true long-term cost of war.

Hear our conversation using the audio player below. You can also subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts.