Friday, April 25, 2008

The Cost of Iraq War

The Cost of Iraq War
By Jerome Grossman

Long-term estimates of the financial costs of the Iraq war range from one trillion to three trillion dollars. That is not a misprint. The number is actually" trillion," that is one thousand billion, an astronomical number difficult to comprehend when translated into dollars.

Here are some of the costs components: soldiers pay, cost of equipment and military materiel, subsidies for training and equipping the Iraqi military, reconstruction of destroyed Iraqi infrastructure, replacement of U.S.military equipment destroyed or worn out in combat, extended care of U.S. wounded soldiers that may last a lifetime, bribery of the Sunni Sheiks, no-bid contracts to favored companies and much more.

After more then five years of warfare, invasion and occupation without resolution, American taxpayers should be angry about this waste. Eighty percent of Americans believe the war was a mistake. Two thirds believe American troops should leave Iraq. Why aren't they acting out as their ancestors did in 1776 against the stamp tax and the tax on tea? For the first time in U.S. history, there is no war tax. As a consequence, people do not see the vast amount of GDP that goes to the war as the lost output that it is. Nor do they feel the cost of the borrowing that will be paid in years to come. If every American was required to pay a war tax for the Iraq War, the war would end tomorrow.

The question naturally arises of what else our country could have done with the money. Barack Obama told voters in West Virginia" that the war was costing each American household $100 a month. Just think about what battles we could be fighting instead of fighting this misguided war."

Hillary Clinton said in Indiana recently that the war was costing $12 billion a month "and was crowding out urgent national needs. We've got to begin not only to withdraw our troops, but bring that money back home."

On the other hand, John McCain says repeatedly that success in Iraq justifies any cost and that overspending in other areas is causing the strain on the federal budget. He says that the government can afford whatever the war costs as well as a big corporate tax cut if it reins in wasteful federal spending.

Whether the cost of the war is current or deferred, Obama and Clinton are correct. Bring home the troops. Bring home the money. Care for the veterans. Care for the American people. Rebuild America's infrastructure. Restore America's reputation. It can be done and will be done.


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