Iraq War Has Put a Price on Human Life

Last week, Gianni Magazzeni, chief of the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, announced that 34,452 civilians were killed and 36,685 wounded in 2006. In case that’s too big a number to digest, I can break it down for you: 6,376 civilians were killed violently in just November and December. About 4,700 of those deaths occurred in Baghdad, most as a result of gunshot wounds. Now isn’t that pleasing to hear?
The Iraqi government, however, put last year’s civilian death toll at 12,357 and has disputed previous figures released by the United Nations as ‘inaccurate and exaggerated.’
Well, hold on a minute. I don’t understand this concept. Maybe I’m a bit slow to grasp this idea, but don’t we have troops in that country? I thought they had a purpose for being there. Oh, so now I understand where our billions of dollars are going! I mean, who cares about the homeless and social security and healthcare issues here at home? Let’s spend $200,000 a minute so that we can make sure 35,000 civilians in a country halfway across the globe can die every year!
But I’m not worried, you see, because a certain someone thinks sending 20,000 more or so of our own troops will ‘help.’ What I can’t understand, though, is how this president can expect us to sit here and send our brothers and sisters to a country where their presence isn’t even helping. Instead, they stand in a strange country far away from home, hated and attacked several times a day, not even sure if they will live to the day they can come home to their families.
How can any more money being put into this war fix that damage already done? The answer is that it can’t. It isn’t possible to place a price on the 35,000 lives that were lost or approximate the cost of the pain their families must learn to live with.
September 11 is a sore spot for every single American because so many lives were lost. We all sympathize with the mothers, wives and children that have lost integral parts of their families. But we can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to live in a country where walking out into the street at the wrong time of day or night can get you shot or even killed. Dozens of bodies turn up on the streets of Baghdad daily, many showing signs of torture. The ongoing sectarian violence stems from revenge killings and lack of accountability for past crimes as well as the growing sense of impunity for ongoing human rights violations.
And you know what? Thanks to our brave soldiers sacrificing their own lives, we won’t ever have to imagine a life like that.
According to, the cost of the Iraq war thus far is over $360 billion. Instead of funding a war, we could have provided 17.4 million students with four-year scholarships at public universities, insured the health of 215.4 million children for one year and employed 6.2 million additional public school teachers for one year. Why can’t these be the reasons America is known in the world instead of the war?
So let’s take a moment to remember our stake in this war. More of our soldiers have died there than civilians who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.
I don’t like that we are in this war, but I know that when 70,000 civilians are being wounded or killed in one year, something isn’t going right. I support my country’s bid to try to help the people struggling to stay alive in their own country. But I also know that we have huge problems here at home, and before we can start trying to perfect other countries, we should strive to clean up our own.

Priya Arora is a first-year psychology and social behavior major.