Iraq is destroying

Published 4:24 pm Monday, April 7, 2008

By Staff
America’s future
America reached two solemn milestones in March 2008. A week after entering the sixth year of the Iraq War, the number of Americans killed surpassed 4,000.
In the background, a new book by Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes debuted, projecting the full cost of the Iraq War somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 trillion. That’s trillion with a “T.”
Although pundits have a tendency to reduce the war in Iraq to numbers — lives lost and dollars spent — there are real imperatives for keeping these figures high in the public’s mind, especially when Iraq remains a top issue in the presidential election.
First, a five-year war borne on the backs of soldiers serving multiple deployments has separated the general public from the people who have to do the fighting. Media coverage of the war has dwindled, and a mere 28 percent of the public reported even knowing that.
America had suffered 4,000 casualties, according to a March poll by the Pew Research Center.
True, measuring the cost in dollars can be complicated to convey. When the media report government spending in the hundreds of billions of dollars, these astronomical sums can lose all perspective. That’s why it’s important to remember how much that $3 trillion means for our tanking economy and American taxpayers.
We are spending approximately $12 billion per month in Iraq. The next president will likely inherit a $400 billion deficit and a national debt of $10 trillion.
Meanwhile, almost a million homes were in foreclosure during the last quarter of 2007, the price of oil has climbed past $100 a barrel, and the national average for a gallon of gas has risen 7 cents in the last weeks of March.
America is likely in the midst of a severe recession, which has prompted the Fed to slash interest rates in spite of the risks of inflation and the effect that higher energy costs will have on everyday household items like groceries.
And for every month that we are borrowing money to fight in Iraq, we are deferring investments in educating our children, in rebuilding our roads, bridges and other basic infrastructure. According to Building America’s Future, a coalition of governors, mayors, and other elected officials from around the country, America will need to spend more than $1 trillion over the next five years to meet our infrastructure needs.
For these reasons, the full cost of the war in American lives and treasure should offer a sober starting point when we discuss what to do in Iraq.
This summer, the extra brigades deployed as part of the surge will end their 15-month tours. With no political reconciliation on the part of Iraqi warring factions, our surge strategy will have failed and our military will be less ready than in the past. On March 26, the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the president that while they can support this summer’s suspension of troop reductions from Iraq, they are much concerned about our ability to deal with additional crises that might develop.
Whether or not you supported the war from the beginning, the costs of maintaining an indefinite occupation will only grow, the economy at home will suffer, and more lives will be lost.
Let’s add one more number to the mix. The cost of making the Bush tax cuts permanent, as cited by the nonpartisan National Priorities Project, would approach $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years.
So, when Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, says in one breath that it would be fine with him if we stayed in Iraq another 100 years while he asserts his support for making the Bush tax cuts permanent, we should all stop to wonder how we’ll pay for the folly of it all.