Sunday, September 23, 2007
The Cost of War
This piece was written on September 21st, 2007:
Today, September 21st is the International Day of Peace. This day was first inaugurated on the third Tuesday of September, 1982 and the goal of International Day of Peace was to "devote a specific time to concentrate the efforts of the United Nations and its Member States, as well as of the whole of mankind, to promoting the ideals of peace and to giving positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all viable ways. It should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples."
In 1999 filmmaker Jeremy Gilley launched Peace One Day to document his efforts to establish an annual Peace Day and in 2001, UN member states unanimously adopted the first ever annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence on the UN International Day of Peace, fixed as 21 September.
Beginning on its 20th anniversary in 2002, International Day of Peace has been set to be permanently observed on the 21st of September every year. The UN resolution said Peace Day is to be "a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day." Last year on Peace Day, more than 3500 Peace Day events took place in 200 countries.
The day-long celebration serves to remind us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind in human community, is to peace. May this Peace Day indeed be a day of peace.
But, despite the desire of the world community for peace and human
rights, the military expenditures in US and the world skyrocketing.
What is the cost of war to human community and to people in US?
World military expenditure in 2005 reached an estimated $1.1 trillion per year. This corresponds to 2.5 percent of the world Gross Domestic Product, or an average $173 per capita. (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 2006) while the UN total budget for humanitarian programs amount to $10.5 billion a year.
This year, June, July, and August have marked the bloodiest summer so far for U.S. troops in Iraq. (U.S. casualties in Iraq are 65 percent higher this year than at this time in 2006. As of August 29th, 3,731 U.S. troops have been killed and more than 27,660 have been wounded in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003. ( US Department of Defense, 8/29/07).
Congress has already appropriated nearly $477 billion for the war in Iraq since March 2003. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the U.S. is spending an estimated $10 billion per month in Iraq. (CRS, 6/28/07)
COST OF THE WAR BROKEN DOWN
* Month: $10,000,000,000
* Week: $2,307,692,380
* Day: $329,670,330
* Hour: $13,736,264
* Minute: $228,938
* Second: $3,816
Now, Imagine, what can be accomplished with a fraction of the cost of war.
* Repair the 70,000+ bridges across US rated structurally deficient: $188 billion
* Rebuild the levees in New Orleans to withstand a Category 5 hurricane: $50 billion
* Cover all eligible but unenrolled kids in SCHIP for 5 years: $47.5 billion
* Equip U.S. public safety officials with interoperable communication equipment: $18 billion
* Enroll 1.4 million more children in Head Start programs: $10 billion
* Double the annual budget for the National Cancer Institute: $9.5 billion
* Hire one new librarian for each public school in America: $4.6 billion
Let us all remember that genuine, lasting peace is impossible in the absence of justice.
True and lasting peace requires justice to all and respecting the basic human rights and human needs of all regardless of everything that diverse us as human race.
PEACE is more than the absence of war. It is about transforming our societies and uniting our global community to work together for a more peaceful, just and sustainable world for ALL.”