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Instead of Going to War in Iraq, the U.S. Could Have Paid for Four Years’ Free University Education

Yesterday, I noted that the 21st Century war in Iraq has cost the United States 818 billion dollars, in addition to the loss of life, the loss of health, the loss of stability and the loss of trust.  Forget all the unquantifiable losses for a moment and focus on the money. This is a lot of spent money: stacked in $1 bills, $818 billion would reach 55,514 miles high.

These aren’t just dollar bills we’re talking about, either.  They’re squandered opportunities.  According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics on the most recent year available (2011), 21 million Americans are enrolled in college or university education.  Also according to the NCES for the same year, public university tuition costs are $7,701 per year on average.  Instead of going to war in Iraq, leading to a third of a million people dead and a situation worse than before, the United States could have paid the entire cost of tuition of a public university education for four years for every one of those 21 million enrolled Americans.  After accomplishing this feat, there would still be $171 billion left over, enough to offer a tuition-free four-year American public university education to 5.5 million accomplished students from around the world, generating enormous good will toward the United States, making the world a less desperate and more stable place.

We could have done this instead.  We didn’t.  That’s just one of many opportunities we squandered when the United States dashed into war in Iraq.

One thought on “Instead of Going to War in Iraq, the U.S. Could Have Paid for Four Years’ Free University Education”

  1. ella says:

    If you look at the everything that has happened since the beginning of the Iraqi war, there are a series of events that are leading up to an independent Iraq, that is actually able to take care of itself. That is rather important, considering that Iran has tried to take over Iraq so many times. The Iraqi military is, for the first time, actually fighting an invading army, not each other, not raiding another country. They are growing up. The once army of 12 year old children are now grown, trained men. You can deride the war with Iraq all you want to, but history in the long run is going to show that Iraq is becoming a nation in the 21st century, of the 21st century. A real move in the middle east. These things take time and patience. They have gone from planning invasion and just murdering thousands of people to learning that war is for defending their own turf.

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