There's a war going on that's extremely costly in human lives and taxpayer money, but most people wouldn't be able to tell so by listening to the campaigns lately of the three major candidates seeking the presidency.
A new book by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz estimates the Iraq War will cost the United States $12 billion per month in 2008 — or roughly $400 million each day.
Further, Stiglitz and co-author Linda J. Bilmes predict the total cost for the ongoing U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be between $1.7 trillion and $2.7 trillion by 2017, and possibly more. That amount doesn't include another $816 billion in interest charges on money the United States has borrowed.
To place that number in context, the amount is far larger than the $670 billion (in 2007 dollars) that the United States spent during the 12-year-long Vietnam War.
Meanwhile, military reports declassified this week at a Senate hearing show that although there was a brief decrease in violence in Iraq last fall following the American troop escalation, the level has remained steady from November 2007 through early this year resulting in, as the International Herald-Tribune termed it, a stalemate.
As of today, 3,987 U.S. service members had been killed in the war, along with 175 U.K. troops and thousands of Iraqi civilians.
If that’s the best the United States can achieve with its tremendous investment of people and money, perhaps it’s time for a sober reassessment of the nation’s involvement.
Iraqi factions that were part of the Saddam Hussein resistance for years are offering one possible solution. A group of Iraqi tribal leaders, former politicians and intellectuals is asking the United States to end its occupation and transfer its authority in Iraq to the United Nations, according to the Associated Press. It’s the only way to avoid a “dark, but not inevitable future” in the nation, the group stated.
The Bush administration and its hand-picked leaders in Iraq are expected to oppose the request.
Voters already know that Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, supports a “stay the course” strategy in Iraq. Strangely, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama — the Democratic contenders — have focused their attentions elsewhere and haven’t been pressed for more details lately on their Iraq proposals by the national media.
As the nomination process moves into its final weeks, let’s hope the two candidates return to addressing this important issue in a straightforward, realistic manner.
— Kevin Osborne