Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Costs of War

The U.S. casualties in the Iraqi war are widely reported. After the recent attacks, the number of U.S. military dead has reached 1631. The number of U.S. military wounded is over 6000. Less widely reported are the Iraqi casualties: 2105 guardsmen and police killed and untold thousands of civlians (icasualties.org).

Even less media attention is given to another critical matter, however: the costs of war in terms of government spending and the opportunity costs that entails. 42 pointed us to this National Priorities Project "clock" almost a year ago. If it was enlightening then, it is even more so now. What could we have done if we didn't invade Iraq? Here's a few examples current through 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning (and counting):
  • Provided 103,000,000 children with health insurance for one year,
  • Funded over 8 million four-year college scholarships to public universities and
  • Ensured that each child in the world got basic immunizations for 57 years!

Even the most hardened leftists will admit that it is a good thing that Saddam Hussein is gone.

But when we hear this argument, we must consider all the other evils that we could have eradicated with much lower human costs, through non-violent means and without adding a cent to the federal budget. Yes, it is good for the world that Saddam Hussein is gone. But is it better than ensuring every child in the world gets immunizations for 57 years? I think not. And we could have achieved that without the thousands of deaths and world alienation....

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