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Jun-05-2010 22:49printcomments

Cost of Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and the Oregon Tradeoffs

We cannot continue these enormous war expenditures ad infinitum, especially with our faltering economy. Clearly, this money could be better spent elsewhere.

Anti-occupation art
Salem-News.com

(SAN FRANCISCO) - What is the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan war so far and what are the Oregon tradeoffs? As of June 5, 2010, 4,402 Americans have died in Iraq as have from 96,663 to 105,408 civilians, and another 4.5 million civilians have been displaced. In Afghanistan, 1,089 Americans have died and, although accurate counts are hard to come by, as many as 19,000 Afghan civilians have been killed and another 3.7 million refugees are internally displaced or living in neighboring countries.

The cost of those who died in these wars is immeasurable, but the dollar tradeoffs can be calculated.

The total dollar cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds $1trillion. Of this amount, Oregon taxpayers will pay $8.4 billion for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. To place this figure in perspective, this money could have provided 2,014,951 low-income people with healthcare for one year or 4,223,822 low-income children with healthcare for one year or 1,711,039 homes with renewable electricity -- solar photovoltaic for one year or 1,519,267 Head Start places for children for one year or 133,489 elementary school teachers for one year or 121,859 police or sheriff's patrol officers for one year or 1,134,122 scholarships for university students for one year.

There are also societal costs not included in the $1 trillion figure mentioned above. A 2008, RAND Corporation study found that one-in-five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression. The RAND study estimates the societal costs of PTSD and major depression for two years after deployment range from about $6,000 to more than $25,000 per case. The RAND study estimates the total society costs for two years range from $4 billion to $6.2 billion. If PTSD and depression go untreated or are under treated, there is the likelihood of drug use, suicide, marital problems, unemployment, and homelessness. There are an estimated 200,000 homeless veterans nationwide on any given night. There are an estimated 13,806 homeless veterans in Oregon/Washington.

Obviously we need an exit strategy for both Iraq and Afghanistan so monies can be spent on desperately needed domestic programs and to prevent further expenses for veterans' assistance. We have an exit strategy for Iraq. President Obama has ordered the 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq withdrawn in three phases. They'll leave major cities - including Baghdad, Mosul and Baquoba - by the end of June. Combat operations will end by August of 2010 - leaving a force of up to 50,000 Americans, primarily to train Iraq's military. Supposedly, all U.S. troops will be out by the end of 2011.

President Obama "hopes" that U.S. troops will start leaving Afghanistan in the summer of 2011.

Remember, however, these exit strategies for Iraq and Afghanistan are targets only. Given the instability and corruption of both governments, these target dates are unlikely to be met. In fact, President Hamid Karzai recently admitted that Afghanistan cannot win the war and is now seeking to broker a truce with the Taliban.

We cannot continue these enormous war expenditures ad infinitum, especially with our faltering economy. Clearly, this money could be better spent elsewhere.


Salem-News.com writer Ralph E. Stone was born in Massachusetts. He is a graduate of both Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School. We are very fortunate to have this writer's talents in this troubling world; Ralph has an eye for detail that others miss. As is the case with many Salem-News.com writers, Ralph is an American Veteran who served in war. Ralph served his nation after college as a U.S. Army officer during the Vietnam war. After Vietnam, he went on to have a career with the Federal Trade Commission as an Attorney specializing in Consumer and Antitrust Law. Over the years, Ralph has traveled extensively with his wife Judi, taking in data from all over the world, which today adds to his collective knowledge about extremely important subjects like the economy and taxation. You can send Ralph an email at this address stonere@earthlink.net




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David Scott June 6, 2010 8:24 am (Pacific time)

The United States started World War III by invading Afghanistan and Iraq. Now our global reputation is ruined and it will be years before this Holy War will be over. Take a look at this: http://freethegods.blogspot.com/2010/05/memorial-day-respect.html


Anonymous June 6, 2010 5:23 am (Pacific time)

Afghanistan: the graveyard of empires.

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