The imperialist adventure in Iraq has directly and indirectly affected millions. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and maimed, and in every corner of the U.S., from the largest metropolis to the smallest country town, American workers and the youth are bearing the brunt of the war.
Of the nearly 2,600 Americans killed, and over 20,000 wounded, the majority have been between the ages of 18 and 24. The vast majority these casualties of war are the sons and daughters of working people. Some joined the military out of a sense of duty to "their country", but these soldiers are increasingly hard to find. After enduring the war first-hand, many have become disillusioned, as can be seen in the rising number of desertions and anti-war messages coming from the battlefront.
For many other soldiers, however, the decision to join the military was less a "moral calling" and more of an economic necessity. The promise of a decent education, steady pay, and health benefits were too much to resist for many. Even "death benefits" have become attractive. The death benefit for the families of fallen soldiers was recently raised to $100,000 due to the military's desperate search for fresh recruits, since many GIs have declined to renew their contracts after seeing the atrocities of war.
The amount of money doled out to each family in death benefits is how the military officialdom calculates the cost of each life lost in the field. As a means of recovering part of this cost, the military then penalizes the fallen soldier's family by docking his or her pay for the days he or she was dead during their final pay period. Those that watched Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" will remember seeing a real-world example of this. But what of the war's effects on those workers without relatives in the military? What is the cost of imperialism to these families?
According to conservative estimates made by the National Priorities Project (NPP), the war in Iraq alone is costing the American people $244 million every day – reaching a grand total of $318.5 billion as of June. This works out to roughly $1,075 for every American. The same NPP study projects the total cost of war over the next decade at $500 billion.
But Joseph E. Stiglitz, a well-known economist and author, estimates the total cost of the Iraq fiasco as closer to 1 trillion dollars. This more comprehensive estimate includes current cash spending, plus costs incurred on equipment, munitions, medical treatment for injured soldiers, supplies for veterans, disability payments, money borrowed by the government, and funds for more intensive recruitment drives.
The money for all of this comes directly from America's taxpayers. Due to the recent tax cuts for the wealthy, most of this comes out of the pockets of American workers. Just imagine the food that could be bought, the health care service that could be provided, the roads, schools, and decent housing – or historic Gulf Coast cities – that could be rebuilt with that kind of money!
How much more of this must the working class take? How many more of our brothers and sisters have to die in a war against our fellow workers overseas?
No to the war on workers at home and abroad!