Why peace? The simple answer is so we can divert our resources, energy, and attention away from war and to other issues… things like the environment, climate change, poverty, hunger, disease, the lack of education and access to information and information technology.

And what could we get if we decided to spend our money on something other than war?

Well, according to the highly respected Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stieglitz of Columbia University and Linda Biomes, who teaches management at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the ultimate cost of the current Iraq war could go as high as $2 trillion. That figure appears in a paper released earlier this year, and it includes the cost of fighting the war now, caring for the wounded veterans of the war in future years, rebuilding a worn-out military, and other economic costs. Stieglitz and Biomes’ estimate is based upon a U.S. deployment in Iraq that lasts until 2010. Under this scenerio, the United States military is spending $783 million a day, for seven years. This is more than the arms expenditures of all other nations combined.

A few months ago, Senator Edward Kennedy gave a moving statement on the Senate floor titled “The real cost of the Iraq war.” It was an interesting look at what we could be spending our money on if we weren’t at war. But Senator Kennedy used the then accepted figure of $195 million per day. Using the recent estimate of costs, the true cost of the Iraq war is over four times as much as the original figure. So to update the comparisons with a few examples…

One day in Iraq could provide health insurance coverage for one year to 1,523,600 uninsured children in America. One day in Iraq could employ 14,388 additional registered nurses for one year. One day in Iraq could pay for an increase of $13.36 per hour in the wages of every minimum wage worker in the country for a year. One day in Iraq could feed all of the starving children in the world today almost 18 times over!

Those are some really good reasons not to go to war.

As President Dwight Eisenhower observed in 1953… “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, and the hopes of its children.”

Why peace?