According to an article in today’s Winnipeg Free Press, the projected cost of Canada’s “mission” (i.e., aggression) in Afghanistan will be, by 2009, about $4 billion. To date, the invasion has cost Canada $2.2 billion and 45 lives.
Of course, the numbers don’t convey the real magnitude of the tragedy involved– the tens of thousands of Afghanis killed, the hundreds of Coalition deaths, the thousands of wounded on all sides, and the profound suffering of the families and communities left to cope with the aftermath.
On the fiscal side, I suppose Canadians can be grateful we’re not Americans. Those folks have been saddled an estimated $76 billion tab so far, and they still haven’t nabbed bin Laden. Nonetheless, imagine what we might have accomplished with the $2.2 billion we’ve spent to date on the war. For example:
- Housing: We could have built about 15,000 modest bungalows and given them away to homeless people.
- Employment: We could have paid 73,000 person years of employment at a living wage ($30,000/annum/worker).
- Daycare: We could have created more than 200,000 new child day care spaces.
- Medicine: We could have trained 20,000 doctors or 80,000 nurses or some combination thereof.
Admittedly, my calculations are crude, but the point is, one can do a lot with $2.2 billion. How would you have chosen to spend this money?