The Fourth of July holiday was the United States' 236th birthday, and the nation has been at war for 193 of those years.
Some of these conflicts can be described as "necessary wars," such as World War II. Still, beyond the lives lost, consider how all the money spent on the military -- or at least a share of it -- could instead have been invested in combating poverty.
Simply in the 2013 federal budget, according to the War Resisters League, $839 billion is for current military and $516 billion is for "past military," which includes interest on the debt and veteranss benefits. Combined, this is 47 percent of the budget. This is more than all of the social aid and entitlement programs, ranging from the "biggies" (Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid) to those that take a comparative pittance (food stamps, school lunches).
Here's a war history list, as compiled by the Mid-Michigan Home for Peace and Justice:
* Revolutionary War, 1775-1783.
* Indian American wars, 1775-1890.
* War of 1812 (through 1814).
* Mexican American War, 1836-1848
* Civil War, 1861-1865.
* Spanish American War, 1897-98.
* World War I, 1914-1918.
* World War II, 1941-1945.
* Cold War, 1945-1992 (Readers may object to this inclusion, since Soviet and U.S. forces never met on a battlefield, but consider the $$$ costs.)
* Vietnam War, 1962-1973.
* Grenada invastion, 1983
* Panama invasion, 1989.
Gulf War, 1991-1992.
* Somalia, 1992-1995.
* Kosovo, 1998-1991.
* Afghanistan War, 2001-present.
* Iraq War, 2003-2011.