EDITORIAL 

The Real Cost of Iraq

At the Republican National Convention in New York this week, Americans (if they bother to tune in) will hear speaker after speaker extolling the virtues of President George W. Bush, telling us what a wonderful job he has done during his first term. They'll hear how he has turned the economy around with his tax cuts. How he has improved our schools. How he has made all of us safer.

All these statements are arguably if not demonstrably untrue, but none more so than the last. The latest issue of Mother Jones documents quite succinctly how this administration's nation-building in the guise of terror-fighting has made America distinctly less safe.

A few examples:

Amount needed for basic security upgrades for subway and commuter trains in large cities: $6 billion (equivalent spending in Iraq: 20 days).

Bush budget allocation for train security: $100 million (Iraq equivalent: 8 hours).

Amount needed to equip all U.S. airports with machines that screen baggage for explosives: $3 billion (Iraq equivalent: 10 days).

Bush budget allocation for baggage-screening machines: $400 million (Iraq equivalent: 32 hours).

Amount needed for security upgrades at 361 U.S. ports: $1.1 billion (Iraq equivalent: 4 days).

Bush budget allocation for port security: $210 million (Iraq equivalent: 17 hours).

Amount needed to buy radiation portals for U.S. ports to detect dirty bombs in cargo: $290 million (Iraq equivalent: 23 hours).

Bush budget allocation for radiation portals: $43 million (Iraq equivalent: 3 hours).

Amount needed to help local firefighters prepare for terrorist attacks: $36.8 billion (Iraq equivalent: 122 days).

Bush budget allocation for firefighter grants: $500 million (Iraq equivalent: 40 hours).

Amount needed to get local emergency medical crews ready for terrorist atttacks: $1.4 billion (Iraq equivalent: 5 days).

Bush budget allocation for emergency medical training grants prior to eliminating the program altogether: $50 million (Iraq equivalent: 4 hours).

Any further questions? Ask your nearest cheering Republican. n

Mother Jones documents how nation-building in the guise of terror-fighting has made America distinctly less safe.

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