Time online recently posted an article called Will Iraq Return as a Campaign Issue? The article talks about how the state of the economy has replaced the war in Iraq as *the* issue in the presidential campaign. At the one year anniversary of the surge, the announced "success" of the surge has many people thinking the war is over. Speaking to troops in Kuwait, the president reminded his audience that last year's strategy shift was initially scorned in the U.S. but has turned out to be remarkably effective. I'm sure the families of the 900 soldiers who were killed since the surge was announced might not agree with the president or with those that believe the war is over.
Of course the state of the US economy is worrisome. As unprecedented numbers of homeowners are facing foreclosure, the unemployment rate is creeping up, the weakness of the US dollar and the need for a dose of Dramamine to try to keep up with Wall Street these days; it's no wonder the economy hasn't taken a place in the front seat sooner. Many people believed the president when he told the country the the economy is fine, don't worry, go shopping, he said. What's not to like about that?
We can be naive, but let's not be stupid. There is enough evidence now that the cost of the war and the state of the US economy are directly connected. Not to be simplistic, but if the administration wasn't spending as much money as it is in Iraq, perhaps there might be a chance for at least some of our economic issues to be addressed.
Let's remember the ### Iraq War Cost as they grow astonishingly by the second. How can we not connect the dots between the economy and the ongoing occupation in Iraq? The weekly cost of the war in Iraq is $275 million per day. That adds up to $4100 per household. Is that working for you and your community? Can you think of other ways that your tax dollars could be better spent?
If you want to know exactly how much money your community, your county or your state is spending and what the trade-off might be, please check the National Priorities Project. You can see what could have been purchased instead of a 5 year war, including how many people could have been provided with Health Care, how many elementary School Teachers could have been hired, how many affordable housing units or homes with Renewable Electricity, and many others.
You cannot have a conversation about the costs of war without talking about the loss of our blood and treasure; the human cost of war. Our country has lost 3923 members of the military who were serving our country in Iraq with at least 30,000 wounded. The population of Iraq has suffered immeasurably, too. 2007 was the worst year for casualties and while the recent drop in deaths is some good news, there is no guarantee that that trend will continue. Remind the candidates that 70% of Americans want war to end.
Do not let the media or the candidates distract you. The economy and the war in Iraq are important issues that must be addressed by anyone who sees themselves as the 44th president of the United States. These issues are explicably and forever connected and we must not let anyone tell us otherwise.