Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Decisions, decisions

Cass Sunstein finds that Cost of Iraq War > Cost of Kyoto Protocol:
The cost of the Iraq war, to the United States alone, is about to exceed the anticipated cost of the Kyoto Protocol (designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions), to the United States alone. As of this writing, both figures are around $325 billion.

To the world, the cost of the Iraq war now exceeds the anticipated cost of the Kyoto Protocol by a large margin (probably by more than $100 billion).
Elsewhere, Matt Yglesias points out that:

the UN has announced that it will be cutting food rations for starving people in Sudan because when it needed $746 million from donor nations, it only got about a third of the cash it needed. So from now on if you're a starving Sudanese, you'll be subsisting on 1,050 calories a day. This for want of a couple hundred millions dollars.

The other day, I noted that 100,000 kids die each year in India of measles. And, again, the problem could be solved for around $479 million of which donor nations have, again, ponied about about a third. Last winter there was a similar famine problem in, I believe, Malawi where mass death struck for want of a few hundred million dollars. The war in Iraq cost over a thousand times as much as funding these kinds of initiatives would have.
In a perfect world, we'd topple dictators, bring climate change under control, feed starving people and cure diseases like malaria and guinea worm. In the real world, we have to make choices. And by choosing to invade Iraq, we foreclosed our ability to eradicate polio and other diseases, or to alleviate crushing poverty, to block genocide, or avert environmental catastrophe. We poisoned the well for humanitarian interventions. We stretched our military so thin that we couldn't act to stabilize Haiti when a coup erupted. We made choices.

What choices a person or a political party makes are how you should judge them. This President and this Congress chose a course that abandoned so many opportunities in favor of an invasion and occupation that they couldn't sustain. This November is an opportunity to see different choices.