Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Cost of War

"For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price." So the president spoke to Congress last night. In the quote above he was referring, of course, to Afghanistan and Iraq - where we've been invading, occupying, and otherwise wreaking havoc for the cause of freedom since 2001 (Afghanistan) and 2003 (Iraq). What President Obama meant by the comment was that the Bush administration's practice of funding wars via post-budget spending requests would not be his administration's practice. You read that right. War has not been included in the US budget for the seven years we've been involved in one or more wars. Our new boss seems to think we should count those costs up front. Just like you and I would count the cost of a new car if we were going to drive one. Here's what the Fight-Now-Pay-Later plan has looked like so far. The yellow blocks represent the money no one in Washington thought we needed to budget for. It's measured in billions, don't forget. I thought it was interesting this morning that the only major news sources I could find headlining this particular item from the president's speech were Al Aribiya, The Hindustan Times, and CBC news out of Canada. The comments posted on those sites are particularly interesting. Please read a few. Perhaps people feel the war is the one thing we're involved in right now that isn't on fire, boiling over, crumbling, or otherwise screaming madly for attention. The war in Iraq just plods on along - $341 million dollars a day worth of plodding. While we're biding our time at war, take a look at the National Priorities Project. It provides information about trade offs your community has made for the sake of war. Here, for instance, is a partial list of what Austin, TX isn't getting because we got wars instead:
412,552 People with Health Care for One Year OR
41,844 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
31,716 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
21,538 Affordable Housing Units OR
775,937 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
33,879 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
Of course none of this means a thing to 4,251 US families. I doubt a single one of them care about the teachers or police officers or subsidized homes we've lost because of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These families know the real price of war. Here is what the Smith family of Grand Rapids, MI lost because of war - This is what the Cliff family of Mt. Pleasant, SC sacrificed- And here's what the Dryden family of Canton, OH gave up for war in Iraq - There are 4,248 others just like these. Along with 31,054 wounded Americans and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians. War - No longer will we hide its price. May it be so. Peace.

2 comments:

tommylucke said...

It is amazing how willing political leaders have been to hide the costs of war. Wouldn't it be nice if they would spend some of the money on peaceful endeavors? It is time for the war stimulus package we've been saddled with for eight years to end.

Joshua Brown said...

I only hope that when we realize the true cost of war - both in finances and loss of life - we will wake up and realize war should not be our only resource in conflict management. Unfortunately I think many feel that the Republican party attempted to cling to their interpretation of the war so that it became dogmatic in the GOP. I'm not convinced that Republican citizens will be able to take off the war-tinted lenses provided by Bush, Cheney and McCain. I only hope we can listen to reason and no longer ignore the very real cost of violence...and the irresponsibility which has colored these wars from the start.

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