By Joe DeRaymond —
The numbers can be numbing. For example, according to an article in the Los Angelos Times published on January 14, the war in Iraq will surpass the Vietnam War spending next year. This means that sometime in 2008, the United States will have spent over $660 billion on the Iraq War.
A quick check of the cost of the war to date shows that Pennsylvania has contributed over thirteen and half billion dollars to the war effort: the City of Bethlehem, $71 million; Lehigh County over $376 million; Northampton County over $335 million.
The human cost is measured in thousand of US lives, tens and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives.
The environmental cost is staggering. Nothing is more destructive of the global environment than war. The profligate burning of fuel, the immolation of the oil wells of Kuwait and Iraq, the use of poisonous munitions such as depleted uranium, the use of chemicals such as napalm, Agent Orange, mustard gas, sarin; the destruction of water supplies and sewer services as a military tactic, the draining of watersheds and poisoning of water, the pollution of the air, water and soil—it is all incalculable in dollar amounts or in the cost to human life.
There can be no sustainable communities while our human and dollar wealth is being poured into such an enterprise. As we pay our taxes, work our jobs, pursue our hobbies, our efforts are channeled, whether we wish it or not, into this horror that dominates the political and social moment.
The devastation in Iraq is mirrored in the degradation of our communities, loss of funds for housing, healthcare, environmental quality, youth programs, and a lack of support for conversion to an economy not based on petroleum. I believe any analysis of sustainability in United States communities should consider and promote the conversion of the economy from military to civilian enterprise, and a recognition that a war economy is only sustainable through oppression by force of less powerful nations.
In this winter of a new Congress, an old President, and increasing citizen discontent with the war policies on which we have embarked, I can only urge all aware and active citizens, Alliance members for sure, to throw in with some anti-war effort, to gather with the many thousands who will march in Washington, and vigil and picket in our communities, to step out of our lives to oppose these policies that are poisoning us all.