“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!” – Samuel Adams

Enriching Our Lives by Opposing the War

I’m beginning to wonder if some of the opposition to the war in Iraq doesn’t come down to some pure, old-fashioned self-centered greed. Greed, you ask? As strange as it sounds, yes.

Consider some of the comments, both from interviewees and the journalist who wrote the story, in this article today from the Argus Leader:

“Over here, there are so many ways we could use that money,” the 27-year-old teacher says. “But then I think about the poor families and children in Iraq, and they didn’t do anything wrong.” If U.S. troops withdraw, she fears Iraq will disintegrate into chaos. So should they stay? “You have to leave at some point,” she says, then shakes her head, uncertain over when.

So many ways that we could use that money? So we want to use money that’s being spent to kill bad guys and ultimately keep them from threatening us for something else? What could be more important than killing bad guys and keeping America safe? SCHIP? A new school lunch program to pay for what people ought to be paying for themselves? Some “free” government health care that someone else pays for?

How about a little class-envy thrown in for good measure:

An analysis of the USA Todau polling data and the conversation around the table in Wilmington reflect the complex and sometimes conflicting ways Americans view the war:

- The war’s defenders, the most affluent and conservative group, say the Iraqis will be better off in the long run as a result and warn that the consequences of pulling out now would be catastrophic. Nearly two-thirds say terrorist attacks on the United States are more likely if U.S. troops withdraw.

So it’s these evil rich people who support the war. It’s these evil rich people who already have enough money who are wasting money on the war–money that could be given to someone who hasn’t earned it. We can blame these affluent, filthy-rich conservatives that there isn’t more wealth redistribution going on.

The article goes on to illustrate that the ones who want U.S. forces out of Iraq now, regardless of the consequences, have a money motive at heart:

They say that the money being spent in Iraq ought to be devoted to problems closer to home, shaking their heads over estimates of the war’s cost. In a new book, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says the total cost of the war will reach $3 trillion or more, a number the Pentagon calls inflated. Last fall, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and anti-terrorism expenditures overseas had cost $600 billion since 2001 and could cost a total of $2.4 trillion over the next decade.

Even if we accept these figures as accurate, do we really understand what a small part of our federal expenditures they represent?

If we have spent $600 billion on Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 6 years, that means we’ve spent $100 billion a year on them. Our federal budget for the year is $3 trillion dollars, so that means we’re spending 3% of the federal budget to protect America, kill bad guys, and ensure stable democracies in the Middle East. Three percent! Three pennies for every dollar!

Our annual defense spending is less than 20% of the federal pie, while social spending is roughly 50% of the budget. Social spending, incidentally, is NOT authorized by our Constitution, while defense IS authorized. What’s wrong with this upside-down picture?

With 52.6% of Americans eating from the government gravy train, perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising that some Americans might consider federal programs that do for people what they should be doing for themselves more important than defending the nation.

I know that there are many people who oppose the war who do so for more noble, if misguided and myopic, reasons. Concern for our loved ones and other troops in harm’s way is understandable, even if too much of it ignores that this is what the military is for (I speak as a 10-year military veteran).

But obviously financial concerns are a factor for some in their opposition to the war; otherwise, it wouldn’t have come up three times within this article.

So do many of us really oppose the war in Iraq simply because we want to line our pockets with more dollars that someone else earned? Are we upset that this icky war is interfering with our ability to enrich ourselves at the expense of our fellow Americans?

Has the moral and intellectual fiber of America erodes so far that we consider enriching our lives at the expense of a few dead Americans an acceptable trade-off? Are a few 911’s every so often a small price to pay for our financial comfort? What if we or one of our loved-ones are one of those who dies in another 911?

Do we no longer realize that if this country is devastated or eventually subjugated, even more Americans will be dead, and our lives will be much worse off, for the goose that laid the golden egg will be dead?


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