As the United States debates health care reform, peace campaigners have pointed out that the cost of sending one US soldier to Afghanistan is equivalent to the cost of health insurance for 690 children for a year.
Using information supplied by the White House, they have pointed out that it costs about $1 million to employ even one soldier to fight in the Afghan war.
The claim is made in an article co-authored by Michael McConnell of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Linda Englund of Military Families Speak Out.
They say that military spending “drains our treasury of needed resources that could be applied to solving such security issues as climate change, unemployment, public health and infrastructure repair”.
McConnell and Englund suggest several ways in which $1 million dollars could be better spent. They suggest that the money “could pay 30 caregiver stipends to family members of severely disabled veterans who have come back from Afghanistan and Iraq, providing them with first-rate care”.
Alternatively, the same sum “could provide 102 full college scholarships for a year” or “refit 1,330 homes with renewable energy”.
The article's authors are not the only ones to question military approaches to conflict on grounds of economics, as well as ethics and effectiveness. Similar concerns have been raised in Britain over the cost of the war in Afghanistan, as well as the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system and public subsidies for the arms trade.
“We cannot afford the loss of our own young people either to death or to wounded lifetimes” say McConnell and Englund, “We cannot afford to lose our sympathetic standing internationally, reawakened by the election of Barack Obama".
They add that, “We cannot afford to drive our nation deeper into debt, ignore the decay of our neighbourhood schools or the plight of young people forced to drop out of college because they cannot pay for it. We cannot afford the weight of innocent civilians killed in these wars, for their deaths will haunt not only our dreams but also our attempts at a new foreign policy based not on militarism, but cooperation”.