Protesters prep for 5-year war anniversary

March 10, 2008 6:06:05 PM PDT
Protestors have kicked off a week long camp-out in front of the Marine recruiting station in Berkeley. They're marking next week's five year anniversary of the Iraq war and the soaring cost of $12 billion dollars a month.

Five American soldiers were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest in Baghdad today. It was the deadliest attack on US forces in Iraq in more than a month. As the loss of lives continues, so does the cost of the war on terror.

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz reports in a new book that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan will have cost the U.S. budget $845 billion dollars through September 30th, the end of this fiscal year. That comes out to nearly 12 billion dollars a month.

Retired general Paul Monroe deployed 10,000 soldiers and airmen to the war as the former head of California's National Guard. He says if the U.S. had deployed 500,000 soldiers to Iraq in the beginning, the U.S. could have ended the war quickly.

"When we go into something like that whether you agree or not, we need to go in a big way and if we had done that, we wouldn't be there now," says Monroe.

General Monroe says it's a lesson we should have learned from Vietnam. As it is, the $845 billion dollars spent waging this war far exceeds the 670 billion, adjusted for inflation, spent in the 12 years American troops were in Vietnam.

Nobel Prize winning economist Daniel McFadden warns that some of the biggest costs of the war have yet to come.

"The extent to which it is draining our military and draining its equipment and resources. There's going to be a lot of deferred maintenance and equipment replacement, which is going to be quite expensive," says McFadden.

To put the figure in perspective, the federal deficit, this year, is expected to be about $460 billion dollars. The war costs are a big part of the deficit.

Economist Tom Campbell is a former Republican congressman and currently Dean of U.C. Berkeley's Haas Business School.

"If instead that money stayed in the pockets of consumers who purchases goods and services, it would be much more productive for economic growth," says Campbell.

That is the mantra of the anti-war group, Code Pink, which says it wants a peacetime economy -- not one based on war.

"Think of what you can do to fix social security, to provide health care for everyone, to improve our school system," says Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin.