When America Raised Taxes To Pay For Wars There Was No Empire

Sarah E. Kreps, an associate professor of government at Cornell University, argues in Vox that America’s penchant for forgotten, seemingly never-ending conflicts stems from the way it finances them. “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,” she writes. This is the thesis of her terrific new book, Taxing Wars: The American Way of War Finance and the Decline of Democracy. Kreps argues that wars no longer have a political cost to elected leaders because they don’t come with a financial cost to taxpayers. Therefore, the war in Afghanistan can rage for years on end because it doesn’t have a meaningful impact on the average person’s life—there’s no sense of shared sacrifice.