..:: Costs of War
The costs of war are already soaring beyond the Bush administration's initial estimates. Rumsfeld claimed that the cost of the war would be "under $50 billion," but Bush has just requested $74.7 billion in emergency spending. Estimates of the direct cost of an invasion of Iraq and a postwar occupation range from $100 billion for a best case scenario to over $500 billion if complications ensue.
The Gulf War cost nearly $80 billion. The US paid about 12% percent of the military costs, with allies such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Germany and Japan paying the rest. However, for this war, none of these countries will be making significant contributions.
These figures do not include the indirect costs of war in dampening the economy. The indirect costs of war are usually much greater than the direct costs: William Nordhaus estimates the Gulf War's indirect cost at about $500 billion. The Gulf War's spike in oil prices and fall in consumer confidence helped tip the US into a recession. Today, the US again has a fragile economy with high unemployment and is teetering on the verge of a recession.
According to analysts at Goldman Sachs, a US declaration of war will trigger the biggest oil shock the world has seen, much larger than the one during the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict.
The effects of war, especially if there is protracted fighting, will reverberate through the world economy for years to come.
..:: Increasing the Risk of Terrorism
A pre-emptive attack on Iraq increases the risk of further terrorist attacks on the US, and is a distraction from the war on Al-Qaeda.
FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley, who exposed the agency's failures to take notice of evidence related to 9/11, has warned that the FBI is unprepared to cope with the terrorism she thinks will be spawned by war with Iraq.
Al-Qaeda and other groups are using the war as a recruitment tool: senior intelligence officials describe it as effective and sure to produce a groundswell of support. Recruitment in Pakistan by Islamist militant appears to be on the rise.
Law enforcement and intelligence officials have said that a war will also increase the threat of attacks by individuals who are not part of terrorist organizations. The FBI issued an intelligence bulletin to state and local law enforcement agencies warning them to be alert to unaffiliated persons who may commit terrorist acts out of anger at US policy.
..:: Defense Opportunity Costs of War
The Bush administration has conceded that the government spending plan for the year does not allocate sufficient funds for domestic counterterrorism measures.
NSC official Rand Beer has resigned in a move widely understood to reflect his concern that war with Iraq is drawing resources away from the fight against terrorism. There is widespead military concern that the military is being over-stretched by fighting in several theaters: Afghanistan, the Philippines and Iraq.
The deployment of large numbers of reservists to the war with Iraq poses security concerns within the US as a significant percentage of reservists are "first-responders" to domestic emergencies, working in police forces, fire departments and emergency services.
Defending the US against terrorist threats urgently requires investment in the public sector. The Report Card for America's Infrastructure issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers found sizeable needs coming from the great disrepair and decay of drinking water systems, sewage systems, airports, public transit, bridges and roads. They estimate that a $1.5 trillion dollar investment is needed to make adequate capital improvements. The American Association of Port Authorities estimates that $2 billion is necessary to make the ports secure, but less than a sixth of that amount has been spent since 9/11 in safeguarding ports.
Defending the public from bioterror also requires significant improvements to the state of the public healthcare system. Doctors say that the US is simply not prepared to respond swiftly and effectively to a bioterror attack. Analysts have called for Congress to make the existing reserve officer corps of the Public Health Service more robust. Christopher Hitchens has argued for the urgency of comprehensive national healthcare, given the anthrax scare.
Naomi Klein writes, "What is making the US most vulnerable to terrorism is not a depleted weapons arsenal but its starved, devalued and crumbling public sector. The new battlefields are not just the Pentagon, but also the post office; not just military intelligence, but also training for doctors and nurses; not a sexy new missile defence shield, but the boring old Food and Drug Administration (FDA)... Infrastructure the boring stuff that binds us all is not irrelevant to the business of fighting terrorism. It is the foundation of our future security."
..:: Other Opportunity Costs of War
An expensive war leaves less attention and resources for other domestic concerns.
The economy is weak, unemployment is rising, and Bush's budget cuts and tax cuts weigh heavily on the poor and middle-classes. Bush's military-focused budget plan, which does not include the expenditure of war in its calculations, is projected to create a record deficit of more than $1 trillion in the next five years. Steven M. Kosiak at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimates that a war with Iraq will add as much as $100 billion to next year's estimated $307 billion deficit.
Spending cuts will hurt veterans and others who will sacrifice the most in a war. The Bush administration's budget proposed cuts to Impact Aid, a program for school districts with a large number of millitary families. The first House budget included $25 billion in cuts to veterans-related programs. Last minute changes in Congress restored most of this funding but Congress is still considering $14.6 billion in cuts to veterans benefits over the next 10 years, including $449 million of vets medical benefits from next year's budget. The money will come from funding for treatment of service-connected injuries and pensions for low income vets.
However, even where Congress has committed to domestic needs, it has not had the time to focus on these projects because of the war on Iraq. Bread for the Hungry writes, "Even before the first bomb is dropped, the rush to war has hurt families who struggle with hunger and poverty. The only two appropriations bills that Congress approved in 2002 were for military spending. Committees in both houses agreed to increase development assistance, but the bill was not finalized... Congress and the president also failed to finish their work on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization, the most important domestic hunger policy issue on their agenda in 2002. Congress and the president...are not paying attention to what's happening to poor people."
An anti-war marcher in Oakland said, "For just a tiny fraction of what it costs to send all those Marines over there, we could not only bail out Oakland schools, we could improve them. In Oakland, the schools are bankrupt, the homicide rate is going up and kids are selling drugs because they can't find jobs. And Bush wants to rebuild Iraq. If we had oil, maybe we could get Bush to invade here, too."
The Cost of War
: Iraq: The Economic Consequences of War by William D. Nordhaus
: The Pentagon Connection by Ralph Nader
: Casualties at Home, NYT
Opposition to the War
: Rally Shows Mainstream Opposition to War, Village Voice
: A Small Town in Wisconsin, Capital Times
: A Republican Dissent on Iraq, WSJ ad
: Rock-ribbed Republicans and Anti-war, Salon
: Labor's 'No' to War, Village Voice
: Just War — or a Just War? by Jimmy Carter
: War Dissent In Congress, Capital Times
: Move On
Chance for Peace
In his Chance for Peace address, Dwight Eisenhower said, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."