Friday, February 09, 2007

The War

I know that it won't matter, what I say, I mean.

Sometimes though, a person just needs to go ahead, lead with the chin and get things of the heart out in the open.

So, here goes.

To date the war in Iraq has cost the nation $365,000,000,000--and that is a conservative estimate. Earlier this week the President asked Congress for $237,000,000,000 in additional funds for the next year.

Sums of money this large more than boggle my very limited mind.

The funds and their use cut at my heart and move my soul deeply for many reasons, all related to life, priorities, purpose, outcomes, peace, justice and hope.

For today I will stick to brief observations about alternatives.

The National Priorities Project provides a running--"rushing" would be better--tabulation of the cost of the war. Take a moment and check the site out at:

Just as striking are its estimates of the completely different outcomes that could have been realized with the application of funds at these same levels. What might the nation have been able to achieve had these same funds been applied to other pressing national issues?

For example. . .
  • 48,000,000 children could have been enrolled in the pre-school programs of Head Start
  • 218,000,000 children could have been fully insured
  • 6,000,000 new public school teachers could have been recruited and hired
  • 3,000,000 new units of housing could have been built
  • 18,000,000 four-year, full scholarships to public universities could have been awarded

The possibilities are endless. Pick an area. Consider the weight of the assets involved. Dream a little.

Sadly, today our nation finds itself in a very difficult position as our leaders consider what to do next in Iraq. One thing is certain. The funding meter is still whirling.

Even sadder is the realization that this comparison is actually a cruel fantasy.

Can you imagine us deciding to actually appropriate and spend our national treasure on such matters as these I've listed as "alternatives"?

Like I say, I know this won't matter. But, I do feel better having expressed myself.


krister said...

I appreciate this post, Larry. Wouldn't it have been great if we had engaged in a preemptive strike against the sources of poverty, poor education, and insufficient medical coverage? In many ways we (residents of the U.S.) seem to resemble the folks in Jesus' parable of the workers in the vineyard. To spend that much money on items like healthcare, public education, and housing likely feels unfair. But I wonder what our response to such priorities says about our understanding of hospitality and how well we've experienced God's welcome. Speaking of hospitality, it seems ironic that for a nation that attempted to market itself as a haven for hospitality we have swung the ideological pendulum so far in the opposite direction with our obsession with defense, building fences, and other means to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. I take heart in William Sloane Coffin's quote.

"Hope is a state of mind independent of the state of the world. If your heart's full of hope, you can be persistent when you can't be optimistic. You can keep the faith despite the evidence, knowing that only in so doing has the evidence any chance of changing. So while I'm not optimistic, I'm always very hopeful."

debgo said...

It matters. It matters to to all of humanity. If you/we were to stop speaking out against injustice wouldn't the "rocks cry out!"

By speaking out against injustice you affirm a certain hope of which Gabriel Marcel says:

"It consists in the affirmation that in hoping for liberation I really help to prepare the way for it, and that, inversely, in raising a doubt about its possibility I reduce the chance of it to some degree. It is not that strictly speaking I impute a causal efficacy to the fact of hoping or not hoping. The truth is much rather that I am conscious that when I hope I strengthen, and when I despair, or simply doubt, I weaken or let go of, a certain bond which unites me to the matter in question. This bond shows every evidence of being religious in essence."

Your persistence and courage is infectious - don't stop speaking out.

MommyHAM said...

Again, it DOES matter.... particularly when, in addition to the funds spent/asked for in Iraq are coupled with the $1.1 billion cut to CDBG, and the elimination of CSBG in the FY 2008 budget proposal, funding opportunities for local governments across the country which provide essential services to the needy in America.

It hurts to see these kinds of decisions. I pray that our Congress will once again rise to the occasion and save CDBG and other vital programs from the President's chopping block.

Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

Larry thanks for always bringing us back to the "human" factor. The dollars stagger my mind. The human cost is even more astonishing.

Thanks for this post. I think I will link it on my blog.

Bobby Valentine

Laci said...

After seeing the staggering costs of the war in Iraq, I was shocked. When you break down where the money could have gone, I am again shocked. The only problem I have is in denying that the war has no purpose. What good is our education, healthcare, and professions if we don't have a safe enviornment in which to pursue those goals? Could the United States exist as it does without maintaining a military presence? No, plain and simple. I believe the question we need to ask is which is more important - bread on the table or protection in your home?

john dobbs said...

Excellent point, Larry. What is it about "us" that we would ignore these needs at home? How much healthcare could have been offered to the uninsured? Lives saved? I do not know all the answers ... but I'm with you ... it's good to say these things.

Anonymous said...

Laci, it seems that Larry's post focused on what might have been, but likely wouldn't have been, had we not gone to war. Another of his calls to remember the urban poor, no doubt.

But if you open the can of worms as to the purpose of this war, the conversation could go on a long, long time. This war began without foundation in truth. Most feelt that it can't end now because of all the terrorists involved who weren't originally there. This war has likely made our world and our nation less safe, not more. I am beginning to think that leaving could do no more harm than staying, especially if a new leader spoke a desire for peace and diplomatic solutions. Call me naive, but what we have now is not the answer.

Anonymous said...

I know the idea is look at all this money being spent, it could be being spent on our children or our neighbor's children. I just wonder of God sees it the way we do. Afterall how much money should we spend to see a young Iraqi girl go to school. Still yet what if in a few years missionaries are able to cross the borders of Iraq with the gospel of Christ? What then? Will all those billions have been so wasted?

I think we need to be careful that we don't present ourselves as knwoing all the answers to teh events that occur in the world. In the end it could be a waste or out seeming chaos and despair God may have something better in store.

Continue to speak out and cry out for what you deem right and what you see as upright just always be willing to remember the Lord just may have something else in mind, something that we "wouldn't believe even if it were told to" us. God bless. BTW God bless the work you continue to be involved in Larry.

psr00a said...

You are correct:
There are countless wonderful things that could be done with such huge amounts of money... Without war, our troops would not be in peril, but home with those who love and miss them. The nation would not be in such debt. I realize the numerous costs that cannot be recovered- both in dollar amounts as well as the toll taken on humanity.
An evil man has been brought to justice (though justice was embarrassingly wrought). Who will stand next to take his place? What will the cost be in the end? So many questions... So much confusion and so many conflicting emotions within this reader...

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you Larry. The enormous amount of money that has been spent on this war could have been put to better use at home where millions are starving and undercared for. The amount of money that the U.S. has spent on the war is outrageous. Does the benefit of this war out weigh the costs? In my opinion, no. I believe that while we need to do what we can to help other countries who need aid, we also need to ensure that our people are taken care of as well. Children are in so much need here, in health, education and in housing; but what is being done to ensure the future of our own children?

Lisa Wallace said...

I understand that our country had to take some action against terrorism and the most immediate threat at the time. It is not my intention to debate the necessity of the funds being spent to further the endeavor in Iraq. (Although I do hold a strong opinion on the subject.) I have to wonder what miraculous results might come about if efforts of the same intensity were shown in defeating world hunger, homelessness, illegal drug trade and so many of society's other problems.

Anonymous said...

Every time I think bout the war that we are fighting overseas, it hurts my hear to think about the war that we fight daily in the United States. We fight a continuous war with poverty, ignorance, and life in general. I think of the many people that are haunted everyday by the thought of no food, education, and a good life for their children, yet we are fighting to save a country when the people in our own backyards are dying because of malnutrition. I am not in anyway condemning those who are in authority over our great nation because being president is a big job, to say the least. Yet, it still hurts to be the college student that is fighting to be the first to graduate college, it hurts to see friends and neighbors that could have done great things, but didn't have the financial accommodations. We can not take back what has been set in motion, but I think that this war in Iraq and the war in America can be a lesson for those incoming authority figures on the suffering that many people face because of lacking resources.

bpb said...

Iraq was a literate state. It also had christianity. Not sure either can be said now, after our "help."