War is a waste

Posted by CODEPINK Staff


by Sharon Miller

What’s your definition of “waste”?

A recent bipartisan report revealed, among other things, that the amount of money wasted on war contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq amounted to at least $31 billion and as much as $60 billion. That is quite a lot of money. However, if your definition of “waste” is anything like mine, then the total amount of wasted money would be closer to $1 trillion—the total cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as of this post.

Given that this particular report focused on wartime contracts, $60 billion is still too low an estimate for the total amount of wasted money. A total of over $206 billion has been outsourced to private contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq. The amount of money spent on no-bid contracts—the type most likely to lead to abuse and corruption—has tripled in the past decade: the Pentagon spent $50 billion on no-bid contracts in 2001, and over $140 billion in 2010.

The cozy relationship between the US government and defense contracting corporations is well-established, and by now, well-documented. This is especially true when we consider Dick Cheney’s role in securing government contracts for his company, Halliburton.

Halliburton’s annual report for 2002 openly admitted that the corporation considered the “war on terror” to be a “growth opportunity.” In other words, more wars equal more money, at least for Halliburton and other war profiteers. The prospect of less money from the Pentagon is causing an industry-wide panic, with several “traditional defense contractors” buying up companies that outsource administrative tasks in the health care industry, as a way to boost their profits. For these companies, peace is simply not profitable.

For the rest of us, however, peace is profitable. What would the world look like today if that $1 trillion in war spending had gone towards education, jobs, infrastructure, the environment, or health care?

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