Sunday, February 27, 2011


2-12-11, Doonesburry on costs of guns in wars---and at home [more on this next week] -- Click on image to enlarge

I give much of my space this week to Congressmen James McGovern [Dem.] and Walter Jones [Rep.], who write courageously in the 2-18-11 Washington Post,
“The solution in Afghanistan: Get out.” 1

“No one, it seems, wants to talk about the war in Afghanistan. This week the House debated a budget bill that is touted as reflecting new fiscal restraint, yet borrows tens of billions more for the war. In an hour-long State of the Union address last month, President Obama devoted less than one minute to the conflict. Given the investment and sacrifices our country has made for nearly 10 years, the phones in our offices should be ringing off the hook with calls from those who are tired of being told that the United States doesn't have enough money to extend unemployment benefits or invest in new jobs. But by and large, Americans are silent. ” “…maybe it's because no one feels that they are paying for the war, which is being charged to the American taxpayers' credit card.”

“Whatever the reasons, there is no excuse for our collective indifference. At 112 months, this is the longest war in our history. More than 1,400 American service members have lost their lives in Afghanistan; over 8,800 have been wounded in action. Tens of thousands have suffered other disabilities or psychological harm. The Pentagon reported in November that suicide rates are soaring among veterans;…”

“What are we giving up to maintain the status quo? Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz told the House Veterans Affairs Committee in September that the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan, including interest payments on the money borrowed for these wars and care for our wounded soldiers and veterans, is likely to total $4 trillion to $6 trillion.”
From video "The Hidden Cost of War" by GOODMagazine

“Simply put, we believe the human and financial costs of the war are unacceptable and unsustainable. It is bankrupting us. The United States should devise an exit plan to extricate ourselves from Afghanistan, not a plan to stay there four more years and "then we'll see."

This is a necessary letter on responsibility, addressed to American citizens, and I hope you read it in full. But scant mention is made on the magnitude of loss inflicted by this war on the people of Afghanistan. No one maintains an accurate count of civilian casualties there, but rough estimates give 15 to 30 thousand killed as a result of actions by both sides. 2
Afghanistan--photo by James Nachtwey

Besides all the terrible human costs, how do some of the other costs of our never-ending “Wars on Terror” break down? According to a “Marketplace Morning Report” 3 on NPR 2-22-11, the price per year per soldier in Iraq is $685,000 and in Afghanistan $1,200,000. Of this, the least category is in wages paid the soldier. The greatest payout is $200,000 to $350,000 in fuel costs. Taking a $300,000 cost [report says price is going up] with 100,000 deployed, that’s $30 billion for fuel per year in Afghanistan, another $15 billion in Iraq with 50,000 deployed. So in these wars in great part dedicated to protecting the future oil interests of international companies, we are already enriching them.

Shame on Rep. Candice Miller, and all the rest in Congress, who refuse to consider these wars that profit only Big Oil, as they enact their budget cuts that target primarily public services. It’s time for a national examination of conscience, every one of us. Support our troops—bring them home.


James P. McGovern, a Democrat, represents Massachusetts's 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House. Walter B. Jones, a Republican, represents North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District.

“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ …,” Mr. Gates [Secretary of Defense] told an assembly of Army cadets here. ---at West Point 2-25-11, reported in NYT article, “Warning Against Wars Like Iraq and Afghanistan”

Blessed Frans Jagerstatter, farmer & father who refused to fight in Hitler's wars, intercede for us--the miracle of ending these wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, and becoming peacemakers.

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