Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Guest Post: The Costs of War

Mike Bock's Take on
the Cost of the War in Iraq

Our dear friend, Mike Bock, visited for a couple of days last week. As we talked about the tragedy of the hopeless situation in Bush's war in Iraq, Mike brought up the huge monetary cost of the war. As a result of our conversations I wrote a post called "The Cost of War". Mike wrote a long response today. I repost it here.

Thanks for the opportunity -- via your Blog -- to do my own rant. You've hit on a topic that I've been giving some thought to.

A few years ago there was much worry about national debt. I'm wondering why now -- with the national debt skyrocketing like no other time in our history -- the national debt is no longer a matter of media discussion. Why isn't this topic burning up talk radio?

Rather than making war with Iraq, how could the US have better spent $250 billion? How could such vast sums been spent to make the US safer? How could money have been spent to more effectively deal with radical Islamists? How could money have been spent be better educate the youth of the world in ways that would enhance the possibilites of future peace? How could this money have been spent to better give the dispossessed, desperate and easily radicalized a greater stake in pursuing peace? There was never a sane discussion of any possible choices as how to best spend resources. (And though I am speaking of monetary resources, of course, the most important resource is human life.) There was no sane analysis of cost/benefit ratio of spending options. Wouldn't such an analysis have made a fascinating discussion? War was given as the only option. There was really no discussion of merit of the war option as compared to other options. War -- the only option. The Military Industrial complex had its way.

But when it comes to the other two-thirds of the "axis of evil" -- N. Korea and Iran -- guess what? War is not seen as the only option, because of the obvious reason that N. Korea and Iran are simply too powerful. N. Korea and Iran are, in fact, more of a threat to the US than Iraq ever was, but, we will do everything possible to avoid war with N.Korea or Iran. We know that the consequences of war with either of these nations would be severe. And so, fearing consequences, the US will try every avenue to avoid war.

But pursuing war was argued as the answer for Iraq because Iraq was seen as weak -- an easy military win, where we could quickly boast, "mission accomplished." Isn't it telling that, under the direction of George Bush, in dealing with the weak, war is the only option, but in dealing with the strong, war is avoided. Isn't this how schoolyard bullies behave? Is it any wonder that the US, throughout the world, is more and more perceived as a bully?

Our choosing war in Iraq, I would like to believe, is an aberration, not truly reflective of our national character. Choosing war in Iraq, it seems to me, is reflective of the machismo affectations and fears of our don't-mess-with-Texas president -- not reflective of our character as a nation.

But then, what is our character as a nation? Our character as a nation seems a matter that is up for grabs.

- Mike Bock

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