Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The True Cost of War

I don’t have much to say one way or the other on Mark Hyman’s editorial about the need for better Pentagon accounting practices. Sure, it would be nice if they could get their act together. No argument here.

The larger issue isn’t how well our tax money is being accounted for by the Pentagon, but how it’s being spent. Specifically, I’m thinking about the hundreds of billions of dollars conned out of the American people by an administration that promised us that the unilateral invasion of Iraq would make us safer, would create respect for America in the region and around the world, and would pay for itself.

Of course, it’s done none of these things. In fact, it’s done the exact opposite.

Just in terms of the money spent thus far, here are some of the things that could have been bought for the money that has been worse than wasted in Iraq:

A year’s salary for 5 million teachers.
Health care for 173 million children for a year.
A year of Headstart for 38 million children.
Four-year college scholarships for 14 million students.
2.5 million public housing units.
Fully fund 12 years of global anti-hunger efforts.
Fully fund global anti-AIDS healthcare for 28 years.
Provide immunization of every child on earth against common diseases for nearly a century.

Oh, and for you supply-siders out there, the money would provide a tax cut of over $2,600 for every household in America.

These are according to the
National Priorities Project website. I’ve rounded the numbers because they are going up literally by the second.

And they’re using a conservative estimate. Two scholars (one from Harvard, the other from Columbia) have
studied what the true cost of the war is to Americans, based not only on the direct costs, but on the indirect (but very real) costs of throwing so much money away. They conclude that the true cost to the nation of Bush’s Iraq invasion stands somewhere between one and two trillion dollars, as of the date of the study (January, 2006).

And who knows what’s been lost to us forever because of the deaths of 2,500 young men and women in their prime, to say nothing of the number seriously wounded, and the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who have died.

That’s a loss no accounting can measure.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except a no 'count excess of evil despot!

At 12:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Makes you wonder how much money Bush/Cheney and Halliburton have stolen. Last count I heard, the number was at twenty-one billion dollars!

Onward to Iran!!!

Kevin Schmidt, Sterling, VA

At 2:17 PM, Blogger rp1588 said...

This is the price of war, as seen by the US, and translated into what economists call "opportunity cost". The cost to Iraq is much, much greater, in terms of lives, destroyed property, destruction of society, environmental damage, and so on. In addition, the world at large also has costs, such as those associated with an increase in terrorism.


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