Of course, in any war the deepest tragedies are the dead and maimed soldiers and the families shattered by their losses. The 50,000 to 100,000 Iraqis who have died are each tragic figures. Mostly they were victims of an unprovoked attack by a world power nation. The sobbing, hysterical Iraqis we see on television and in newspapers reflect the grief we would feel if the power and its misuse were reversed.
Nevertheless, these losses are not the only tragedy of Iraq. The American soldiers who have died and their shattered families have also experienced the nature of tragedy. Some have even come to realize how their sons and daughters were sent off to die based on lies and massive miscalculations.
But these, too, are not the only tragedies. We are now spending approximately $246 million every day on conducting this war! (Harpers, Oct. 2006) To date, more than $300 billion has been spent, and some economists estimate that if we stay four more years the cost could climb to $1 trillion. The tragedy? Well, if you are Halliburton, there is none; in fact, these other tragedies – death and carnage – are the basis of massive profits. The tragedy, I believe, is how we could have used these funds. I hasten to add that I believe that Sam Harris is correct (L.A. Times, Sept. 18, 2006) in saying that trying to eliminate economic despair around the world will not erase terrorism. But certainly spending millions of dollars helping low income nations would not add fuel to the fires of terrorism. More and more people – Republicans and Democrats alike – are coming to see that the Iraq war, rather than curtailing terrorism, is simply inspiring more and more terrorists to join in against fighting the enemy-invaders, the U.S.A. (L.A. Times & N.Y. Times, September 24, 2006)
Tragically, billions of dollars are being spent bombing a country and rebuilding some of it while at home there are not enough funds to provide health resources for 46 million Americans, adequate schools for inner city youth and safe neighborhoods in low-income neighborhoods. People sleep on the streets in American cities while we try to rebuild cities we have destroyed in Iraq. It verges on insanity; it is surely self-destructive.
As if these were not enough tragedies, consider that the very future of planet earth is now at risk. Consider that ecological research, conservation programs, soil preservation, toxic reductions, water research and reclamation programs and carbon emission reductions are all of dire importance, yet they are under-funded because we continue to pour billions of dollars into an industrial-military profiteering sump hole. (See Robert Greenwald’s recent documentary film: Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers. The flagrant squandering, laundering and absconding of Iraqi war dollars by war profiteers will no doubt be recorded by historians as a major scandal, but even more scandalous and tragic is how those dollars might have been spent.