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The price of the Iraq war
by Jeff Blanck
Mar 24, 2008 | 558 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The latest government count of our soldiers killed in Iraq reached 4,000. This does not include the maimed and mutilated soldiers who are still alive; that number is 29,451. So what value do we as a society put on these lives?

If a 21-year-old is killed in a car accident that is not his fault, the wrongful death award could easily be $10 million. If he also had a life insurance policy, it would pay out as well. When a soldier dies in Iraq there is no damage award and he or she could have a $400,000 life insurance policy that would not exclude the wartime death. If you die on the highway your family gets $10 million. If you die in Iraq your family gets $400,000. This doesn’t seem fair to me. Also, wounded soldiers are at the mercy of the Veterans Administration.

People say that when you join the Army you know it is hazardous and you could die. That’s true. But about 50,000 Americans die each year on our highways. We all know the risk when we get in our cars every day but we can still get massive amounts of insurance. I guess it just shows that insurance companies can make more money off car accidents then they can with a war.

If you do the math, we are spending several million dollars on death benefits and hundreds of millions on long-term care for the wounded. The human cost really can’t be put into a number. The loss of one life is a very high price to pay for our government’s misguided policies.

Everyone has heard that we are spending billions on the war in Iraq. So where is the money going? Not to our dead or wounded. According to The Nation magazine, it is going to corporations. Private military contractors have accounted for $294.9 billion in war spending. The private contractor costs are up 63 percent since the original invasion.

To date, the government has spent $522 billion on the war and another $70 billion is allocated for 2008. In 2007 we spent $138 billion. That same money we spent on the war in 2007 alone could have provided health care to the 45 million uninsured Americans. We could have also added 30,000 schoolteachers and built 400 schools in which they could teach. But those aren’t Bush’s priorities.

Also, part of the reason for the war was to secure our oil supply. We have done that, so why is gasoline expected to reach four dollars a gallon by summer? The price goes up and so do the oil companies’ profits. We the taxpayers are paying billions for the war and the oil companies are making billions in profit. What’s wrong with that picture?

Do you remember what the Bush administration told us about the war? Here are some quotes:

• “The costs of any intervention would be very small.” - Glenn Hubbard, White House Economic advisor, Oct. 4, 2002

• “The likely economic effects [of a war in Iraq] would be relatively small...Under every plausible scenario, the negative effect will be quite small relative to the economic benefits.” - Lawrence Lindsay, White House Economic Advisor, Sept. 16, 2002

• “The United States is very committed to helping Iraq recover from the conflict, but Iraq will not require sustained aid.” - Mitchell Daniels, White House Office of Management and Budget, April 21, 2003

They lied to us not just about weapons of mass destruction, but about the true costs of the war. Americans are being killed and wounded so the oil companies and war contractors can make a fortune. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been wasted and thousands of lives lost. The true price of the war is way too high.

Jeff Blanck is an attorney in private practice in Reno. He can be reached at
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