Americans are losing their homes, jobs and health insurance; banks are struggling--and the Iraq war appears to have aggravated all these domestic woes. So as we debate whether to bring our troops home, one central question should be whether Iraq is really the best place to invest $411 million every day in present spending alone.
Granted, the cost estimates are squishy and controversial, partly because the $12.5 billion a month that we're now paying for Iraq is only a down payment. We'll still be making disability payments to Iraq war veterans 50 years from now.
Moreover, the Bush administration has financed this war in a way that undermines our national security--by borrowing. Forty percent of the increased debt will be held by China and other foreign countries.
A Congressional study by the Joint Economic Committee found that the sums spent on the Iraq war each day could enroll an additional 58,000 children in Head Start or give Pell Grants to 153,000 students to attend college. Or if we're sure we want to invest in security, then a day's Iraq spending would finance another 11,000 border patrol agents or 9,000 police officers.
Imagine the possibilities. We could rehabilitate America's image in the world by underwriting a global drive to slash maternal mortality, eradicate malaria and deworm every child in Africa. All that would consume less than one month's spending on the Iraq war.
Professor Stiglitz calculates that the eventual total cost of the war will be about $3 trillion. For a family of five like mine, that amounts to a bill of almost $50,000.
I don't feel that I'm getting my money's worth.
[Excerpt of an article by Nicholas Kristoff, NY Times News Service]