What is the importance of the war in Iraq relative
to other current issues? This is a question I am often asked, especially as
Americans continue to become increasingly aware that something is very wrong
with the economy. The difficulty with the way the question is often asked relates
to the perception that we are somehow able to divide such issues, or to isolate
the cost of war into arbitrarily defined areas such as national security or
international relations. War is an all-encompassing governmental activity.
The impact of war on our ability to defend ourselves from future attack, and
upon America 's standing in the world, is only a mere fraction of the total
overall effect that war has on our nation and the policies of its government.
The cost of this particular war is enormous, and therefore it's of great importance.
There is no single issue that is more important at this particular time. The
war has, of course, made us less safe as a nation and damaged our credibility
with allies and hostile nations alike. Moreover, years of growing deficits
have been spurred on by the high price tag of war, and the decision to pay
that price primarily by supplemental spending rather than traditional "on-budget"
War takes what would otherwise be productive economic capacity and transfers
both that capacity and the wealth it would generate in normal, peaceful times
into far less economically viable activities. It also impacts budget priorities
in ways that are detrimental to our nation. I have often pointed to the fact
that we are building bridges in Iraq while they are collapsing in the United
All war, but most particularly war funded by monetary inflation, bleeds a
country in multiple ways. Obviously, many of the young people who are in the
military literally give their blood, and sometimes their lives, fighting in
wars of this type. Meanwhile, those who do not fight the war, but fund it,
are forced to pay both the immediate costs, as well as seeing their long-term
purchasing power erode, as the twin pillars of debt and inflation are foisted
upon the backs of current taxpayers and future generations. Neither conspiracy
nor coincidence explains steep increases in the price of gas as the war drags
on. No, this is simply a reality of the inflationary policies that, among other
things, make this war possible.
As people are continually asked to choose whether our nation's teetering economy
or the failed foreign policy of the past several decades is more important
as we look forward, it is well for those of us who understand that these two
issues are closely linked to continue to explain this fact to our fellow citizens.
To fix the problem requires a proper diagnosis.