By Bud Koenemund
$569,000. By government standards, it's not
much; not when compared to our national budget. It amounts to less than
two/tenths of a cent for every American. Indeed, it's barely a drop in the
bucket when compared solely to the defense budget.
$569,000, or thereabouts, is the cost of one
Tomahawk cruise missile – reportedly the weapon of choice for our upcoming
attack against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The attack is, according
to many in the media, a foregone conclusion. One report speculated dozens, even
a hundred, of the missiles may be used in the assault.
thereabouts when referring to the price because the true cost per missile could
be as high as $1.4 million. But, just for laughs, let's go ahead and believe
the government is currently getting the low end price; presumably for models
without a CD changer, power windows, and a rear defroster.
Considering the sheer number of missiles, and
the cost (in dollars and lives), think about how much good could be done with
For $569,000 (remember, the cost of just one
Tomahawk), we could:
Through UNICEF, feed 1,138,000 children for a
day. Or, feed one child for 1,138,000 days.
Pay for a school term for 284,500 Ethiopian
Buy equipment for 11,854 classrooms in
Pay for a year of schooling for 16,500 girls
Build 334 wells in countries around the
Provide 2,076,850 meals for kids in India.
Buy 38 generators to provide power to entire
Provide a year of schooling for 22,760
Run 52 street children's hospitals for a year.
For the price of just nine Tomahawks, we
could do everything on the list. And, if the true price of each missile is the
higher number I quoted, we could do more than twice as much. We could even save
some elephants in Kenya, and maybe a whale or two.
Now, some will say, "Why should I care
about kids in Afghanistan or Tanzania? We have our own problems right here."
You're right. We do. I used examples from around
the world because we're going to expend those missiles overseas. But, we have
bridges falling down, roads crumbling; all kinds of infrastructure that could
benefit from having more dollars available for repairs.
There are still people losing their homes
because the housing bubble burst. Any number of schools and hospitals right
here in the US could use that money.
That money could be used to help fund
national healthcare, or help pay college tuition, or help fund the arts – there
are hundreds of theater companies starving for the funding which would enable
them to continue providing culture to people at little or no cost.
Of course, there are political considerations.
But, you must realize Syria is a no-win situation for the United States. We
will be damned if we do, and damned if we don't. If we attack, the US will be
criticized for bullying yet another Middle Eastern country. If we don't
intervene, the US will be criticized for allowing men, women, and children to
we've been doing that all along. There are people dying around the world, right
now! They were dying long before Bashar al-Assad. They were dying before Saddam
Hussein began filling mass graves with 15,000 of his own people. They were
dying before Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, and many other dictators around
Whether our Tomahawk missiles remain in their
launchers or not, people will continue to die, because poverty kills more
people each year than any of these men could ever hope to.
answer is not killing foreign leaders – merely allowing the next strongman to
step up – or destroying what little infrastructure these countries have. The
answer is more education. It is access to food and clean water. It is access to
medical care. It is exposure to cultural events which teach we're not all that
much different from each other.
The United States can help
provide these things, and for surprisingly little cost when you look at it in
terms relative to what we spend to kill people.