Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Open Source is the world’s longest-running podcast. Christopher Lydon circles the big ideas in culture, the arts and politics with the smartest people in the world. It’s the kind of curious, critical, high-energy conversation we’re all missing nowadays. Be part of the action: leave a voice message to be played on the air; get in touch over Facebook or Twitter; or email us – info@radioopensource.org with show ideas, advice, requests and high-quality criticism.

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The Costs of War


A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there — pretty soon, as the man said, you’re talking real money. But you’re not even close to counting the costs of the US “forever wars” in the Middle East. The numbers are sky high, the questions are profound: more than $6 trillion paid out since 9/11 for missions to Afghanistan, Iraq ,and Pakistan, one trillion of the six just for interest on a borrowed-money war. Who owns that debt, and who will pay it, when? If you can’t think in trillions, try equivalences and opportunities lost: money for 21st century wars could have retired all student debt five times over; could have built thousands of miles of high-speed rail; could have financed Medicare for most of us. The government doesn’t audit its empire, but scholars do.

An old-fashioned war-financing effort.

The hidden costs of the long, losing war in the Middle East can break your heart when you learn the disproportionate deaths of innocents. They could break the bank when the credit card debt on six trillion dollars’ worth of war comes due. We are getting highlights this hour from a remarkable network of auditors, in effect, on the dangerous downside of empire.  About two dozen independent scholars of history, economics, and warfare are linked in a Cost-of-War project to tell us what the government would like us to ignore – starting with that point that our wars since 9/ll have been financed by borrowing, the main reason our debt exceeds our GNP, meaning we owe more than we produce in a year. Just the interest paid in on the credit-card war era is more than a trillion dollars. 

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 2020-01-17  50m