The cost of war

So … who has an extra $800 billion lying around?

It’s for a good cause: the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We ask because a recent congressional panel reported the total economic impact of our war on terror will be an estimated $1.6 trillion by 2009. Congress has already allocated $804 billion since 2002.

Eight hundred and four billion dollars — that’s almost double the cost of five to six years of fighting in just one year. Pretty impressive spending, even for our government. We’re just curious about a couple things.

Who’s going to pay for this?

Where is the money going?

The panel estimated the average cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for a family of four would be $20,900 since the fighting started. You can average that out to about $5,000 a person or $3,500 a year, whichever you prefer. Either way, the price is going up. The panel also calculated, that should the fighting continue for another 10 years, the cost would increase to $46,400 for a family of four, which is a $3.5 trillion increase overall.

According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the exact amount of the national debt, as of Tuesday, is $9,111,730,076,511.49. To make that easier to read, that’s about $9.1 trillion. Where the U.S. government is going to get that much money to repay the debt when it keeps spending more than it collects is beyond us.

As for the second question, we’d really like to know. We keep hearing that any questioning of the war and asking for a pullout date demoralizes the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can see how that could potentially affect the men and women in our military. How much of a damper on their day is not getting body armor? How about armored vehicles?

It certainly couldn’t be for the medical care of injured soldiers, either. Remember the controversy last winter with Walter Reed Army Medical Center? Delayed treatments and being housed in areas with mold and leaks is far from the support-the-troops mantra we’re used to.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it best in an article on CNN’s Web site.

“We cannot afford this war — $12 billion a month? We just can’t. We can’t continue.”

Considering America’s problem with health care for the general public (children included), growing hunger, poverty, pollution and rising tuition, the federal budget is stretched pretty thin by these issues alone. How are we justifying doubling the cost of two wars that have no real end in sight?

War has its costs, from human lives to money. Continuing our fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan will only spend more of both.

The above editorial is a consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.