News Release

Cost of War: Breaking It Down


Monday (January 17) is the 50th anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address, in which he warned of the rise of a “military-industrial complex.”
Martin Luther King Day is also Monday. He said: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
On Tuesday, the LA Times reported, Vice President Biden “backed away from his own recent promise that the U.S. would pull out of the country ‘come hell or high water’ by 2014.” Instead “conceding that the U.S. might retain a presence in Afghanistan when the 2014 deadline hits and beyond.”

Comerford is executive director of the National Priorities Project; Hellman is budget analyst for the group, which as part of the re-launch of its website,, has just issued “What’s at Stake?” — 50 state-level briefs focused on the impact of war spending.
Hellman said today: “In state after state, tough decisions are being made about critical programs that touch people’s lives. It’s imperative that we examine the locally-based opportunity costs of federal spending decisions. NPP’s numbers will help people assess the magnitude of war spending and draw their own important conclusions. This is especially important as Vice President Biden signals open-ended war plans.”
Highlights of “What’s at Stake?” include a gap analysis focused on Head Start, health insurance, renewable energy and higher education with findings such as:

  • “New York has 128,128 Head Start-eligible children, yet only 48,013 Head Start places. For New York’s share of this year’s Afghan war spending, the state could fund Head Start places for all eligible children for 21 years.”
  • “Wisconsin has 527,000 uninsured residents. For Wisconsin’s cumulative Afghan war spending, the state could provide insurance for all uninsured for three years.”
  • * “Washington [state] consumes 1,168,531 Billion British thermal units of non-renewable energy and only 881,676 BBtu renewable energy. For Washington’s share of cumulative Afghan and Iraq war spending, it could pay 23 percent of the cost to convert all non-renewable energy to all solar energy or 79 percent to convert to all wind energy.”
  • “At the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the North Carolina share of total war spending ($34 billion) would fund all in-state expenses of a four-year education for each incoming freshman class for the next 135 years.”

Excerpt of Eisenhower’s farewell address

Full address, text and audio
See King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167