The Cost Of War In Lives Lost
Wednesday - January 17, 2007
Like many Americans last Wednesday evening, I watched the president’s speech - the one in which he outlined his “new” strategy for Iraq. As expected, Mr. Bush announced his intention to commit 21,000 additional troops - a surge, as he calls it - to overpower the insurgency and secure the most violent areas long enough for the Iraqis to take over.
I won’t get into the various reactions because we’ve been watching them and reading about them for a week now, and every sentence of his speech has been repeated, replayed, rehashed and hyperanalyzed. The only clear thing at this point is that the president has committed to this action, and in doing so he has committed the American people and the Iraqis to it.
He has staked thousands more lives on his vision of victory, and he has staked money on it.
Let’s talk about that. The money. Some experts say the real cost of the war has climbed to more than $350 billion. That is a controversial figure; the Bush administration puts the cost much lower. But it is safe to say billions have already been spent, and billions more will be spent.
On the same day the president pledged more troops (and money) to Iraq, another news story came and went, not quite under the radar, but quickly forgotten in the cacophony of war news. It was reported that there are now a staggering 744,000 homeless people in America, 6,000 of whom live right here in our Aloha State. That puts us right in the top five. Sad, isn’t it?
The truth is, though, we can’t just take the Iraq money and spend it on houses, or teachers, or food for the hungry, or renewable energy research, or any of our needs here at home. No matter how congressional Democrats are howling about withholding funding for the president’s troop escalation, the harsh reality is that the “surge” has already begun. Withholding money would mean our soldiers would go without bullets, without armor, without training or support. We would leave these men and women vulnerable and, of course, that is unthinkable.
The surge is on. We had all better hope it works, because if it doesn’t it could break our budget, break our military and break the hearts of thousands more families in our country - and in Iraq. The real cost of this war isn’t measured in dollars, but in lives lost.
The president said, “There is no magic formula for success,” and he warned that there will be more bloodshed before we see the results of his escalation.
He also said, “Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.”
That’s quite an admission for a man who has insisted all along that everything was right on track, despite all evidence to the contrary.
But it will be small consolation for families who lose loved ones in this latest attempt to “win.”
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