The Public Square

Jennifer Hixson on the costs of the war in Iraq


Hello. My name is Jennifer Hixson. I am a member of McKinley Presbyterian Church on the University of Illinois campus. I am also a member of the Champaign-Urbana chapter of the Interfaith Alliance.

The Champaign-Urbana chapter of Interfaith Alliance has raised money to put up a billboard reminding people about the cost of the Iraq war. The billboard says simply that the war is costing us $720,000,000 a day. It will be up for most of the month of May. The $720,000,000 figure is based on the research of Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz of the Kennedy school of Government.

$720,000,000 a day is more money than most of us can imagine, but let's think about what we could do with that money if we weren't using it to wage a war in Iraq.

The American Friends Service Committee points out that at that rate we could:

Build 6,482 homes for families each day. Build 84 new elementary schools each day. Fund 34,904 four-year university scholarships each day. Provide 423,529 children with health care.

And the costs of this war are not limited to economics.

The war in Iraq has cost the US over 4,000 lives and many more casualties, men and women who have been wounded mentally and physically and will need lots of help to recover and rebuild their lives here at home.

It has cost the Iraqis much more in lives and wounded. And it has torn apart the fabric of their society. My husband was in Pakistan at the time of Russia's war with Afghanistan. He spoke of seeing SO MANY people in the refugee camps in Peshawar who were missing arms and legs.

Now we are sending the wounded and the hopeless to refugee communities outside of their country. More than 4.7 million Iraqis have been displaced by the war and US occupation.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that over 2,000 Iraqi refugees enter Syria every day. Every day 2,000 people lose hope and leave their homes, their neighbors and their families.

The population of the city of Champaign is about 68,000. If 2,000 people were to leave Champaign each day, Champaign would be a ghost town in 34 days, before the Fourth of July.

We the people of the US must begin to recognize all of the costs of this war and speak up, speak out to end this war that is costing us and the Iraqis so terribly much.