Taxing Wars: The American Way of War Finance and the Decline of Democracy, Author: Sarah Kreps.
One view is that the light footprint of modern warfare — drones, small numbers of special forces, and cyber, as opposed to large deployments of troops — is a chief culprit. This approach to conflict removes a barrier to war because it does not inflict casualties on American troops that would draw attention to and drain support for the enterprise.
This is surely a contributing factor. But I argue that the most crucial difference between these wars and those of the past is how they have been financed.
Contemporary wars are all put on the nation’s credit card, and that eliminates a critical accountability link between the populace and the conduct of war.
But without war taxes, the country is left with mounting debt — and left, too, with wars without accountability. If the public fails to experience the “inconvenience” of taxes, paraphrasing Adam Smith, there is no incentive for voters to push for a course correction.
When no citizen feels a financial pinch during wartime, open-ended wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq are likely to become the norm, not the exception. more>