As the anniversary of the United States 2003 invasion of Iraq approaches–and as the economy crumbles further–it’s worth looking at the cost of the Iraq War.
For those of us living in Grand Rapids, our share is a $343.5 million.
That money could have been used for a number of more constructive uses, as shown by the National Priorities Project’s analysis of what the money could have bought:
- 129,169 People with Health Care for One Year OR
- 482,827 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year OR
- 7,129 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
- 6,218 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
- 35,329 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
- 2,769 Affordable Housing Units OR
- 256,882 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
- 51,933 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
- 4,853 Elementary School Teachers for One Year
This also doesn’t take into account more specific local needs, which could have been considered had the money not gone to sustaining the military occupation of Iraq.
Iraq Costs to Continue
While many people voted for Barack Obama in hopes that the spending on the Iraq War would end, earlier indications are that it will continue for some time.
When Obama spoke in Grand Rapids last October, he said that “ending a war in Iraq that is costing $10 billion per month” would be a way of funding different social priorities. However, Obama has pledged to continue the Iraq War for at least three more years, if not longer.
The continued presence in Iraq will continue to cost taxpayers significant amounts of money. Obama’s first budget includes more Pentagon spending than the Bush administration ever did. This amounts to $534 billion–an increase of $20 billion over last year. Total military spending will be near $664 billion.
Of this, the administration is planning to spend $130 billion on the war in 2010.
Don’t Forget the Human Toll
It’s also worth noting that while this piece looks at the financial costs of Iraq War for those of us living in the United States, the real price has been paid by the Iraqis. They have been killed by the hundreds of thousands, displaced from their homes, and seen their livelihoods destroyed.