Friday, August 22, 2008

 

Billions for War, Millions for Peace

The Peace Corps Takes Back Seat to the War in Iraq

The Washington Post reported today (August 22, 2008, page A15, Christopher Lee) that the U.S. Peace Corps "is preparing to cut back on new volunteers and consolidate recruiting offices as it pares other costs amid an increasingly tight budget." Much of an anticipated shortfall in funds is "attributed to the declining value of the dollar overseas and the rising cost of energy and other commodities," which inflate overseas expenses.

$120 billion is a conservative estimate of America's current annual costs for its war in Iraq. This is based on current spending for direct costs, but excludes additional countless billions in the long-haul for veterans benefits, payments to allies, and interest on Iraq war-related debt.

On the other hand, the Peace Corps' current annual budget is only $330.8 million, notwithstanding bipartisan Congressional support.

America thus spends more for 25 hours of its military occupation of Iraq than it does for the worldwide operations of the Peace Corps for an entire year.

The people of the world, especially Americans, reap huge peace dividends from the work of the Peace Corps, but the peace dividends from our military campaign in Iraq are dubious at best.

The vast majority of the world’s population—and even a majority of Americans—long ago concluded that the peace dividends of America's misadventure in Iraq were illusory, in fact, hugely negative.

In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush promised to double the number of Peace Corps volunteers by 2007, and he broke his promise. Obama promises to double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011, and we must ensure he keeps his promise.

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