Past eventInvitation OnlyResearch Event

Fighting Without Paying: 21st Century Wars and the Decline of Democracy

22 May 2018 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Chatham House, London


Dr Sarah Kreps, Associate Professor of Government and Adjunct Professor of Law, Cornell University; Adjunct Scholar, Modern War Institute (West Point); Faculty Fellow, Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity, Cornell Tech Campus, New York City
Chair: Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Director, Centre on Conflict, Rights and Justice and Associate Professor of International Relations, SOAS, University of London; Associate Fellow, US and the Americas Programme and Member of Council, Chatham House



Why have the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq lasted longer than any others in US history?  Dr Sarah E. Kreps suggests that the shrouded financial costs of war are an important part of the story. Higher taxes used to be synonymous with the onset of war, as they provided an efficient and equitable way to strengthen the war effort. Taxation also represented a key mechanism of democratic accountability and compelled leaders to keep wars as low-cost and short as possible. However, the US, as well as its allies, has since moved away from large war taxes and towards borrowing, which has now become a permanent feature of how countries fund their wars. 

Dr Kreps will explain the extent to which this change serves leaders and whether, as the public becomes disconnected from conflicts, the move erodes accountability and undermines the basis for democratic restraint.

This event is being convened in collaboration with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Attendance at this event is by invitation only.

The Chatham House Rule

To enable as open a debate as possible, this event will be held under the Chatham House Rule.