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Bill Moyers Essay: The Cost of War

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Tonight on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, a report on the true human cost of war.

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How has this war cost you?


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Dear Mr. Moyers,

I recently viewed your documentary called “The Cost of the War” as posted on your website:
This particular program was very moving and informative. The war in Iraq has been discussed over and over again concerning our involvement and strategy. While the costs have often been laid out, we have not seen the opportunity cost of financing this war, until this program, of course.
The trillions of dollars that have been poured into the war would be very welcome in our home country, the United States of America. Although this program was aired two years ago, those war funds are even more needed back home than in Iraq, as our nation is in great economic distress. Being a college student myself, I am aware of the troubles students are experiencing in applying for loans and financial aid, because there is a lack of grants and scholarships. Knowing that 20 million students could have received scholarships instead of using that money to fight and endless war is heartbreaking. We are also in the midst of a healthcare reform. Healthcare reform may not have been an issue today had more of the war financing been used to provide 60 million children with health insurance.
I believe the issue here is not to withdrawal funding for the war, but to withdrawal our presence in this war. Obviously, it would not be fair to our brave soldiers who risk their lives everyday in Iraq to give them less money to achieve their goal. I believe all the money being used for the war is needed by the soldiers. Nevertheless, I wonder whether we should have our soldiers in Iraq at all. The deaths of the innocent American soldiers we have lost have been reported in numbers, but the effects upon their families and friends are not quantitative. It is not only the soldiers lost in war, but the physically injured and mentally scarred from war are also an overlooked cost. We could save millions of lives, physically and emotionally, as well as millions of dollars from withdrawing from Iraq, and we could use that money and health to reinvest in the future of our nation.
Our nation is proud of our soldiers, that is not a question; however, our nation itself is struggling to find peace. Your documentary made light of many of the opportunity costs, as well as the costs that cannot be quantified. I did not expect to be moved in such a way by your program, but it did, probably because I never took the time to think about the all the lives affected by war: ALL OF OUR LIVES. Thank you for bringing this issue to my mind, Mr. Moyers.

In response to the Post by Pat Mccann -(May 10, 2008 10:19 PM)...
It's hard to follow up the 1st sentence with anything but:

"Yup"...You're 100% right"

It's short, true and to the point...The imbecilic 'sheep' of this country, with the help of those who threw their vote away on the likes of a narcissist-Nader (or chose not to vote at all (which was inexcusable, considering the circumstances and importance of what was hanging in the balance 'OF OUR CHILDREN'S FUTURES!!' Or if you place ANY value on human life, whatsoever)...And lastly...& most importantly: 'How America allowed the (election,HA!) to be completely hijacked, held hostage, then outright stolen (or bought and paid for...either way, it was done openly for all-to-see, regardless of how illegal)...Just the simple fact that people, who have audacity to call themselves 'Americans' stood by and watched one of the most morally and ethically bankrupt instances in history take place 'without so much as making a peep'...Deciding instead to take the advice of the village idiot and 'go shopping'...I don't know...I just don't know what else to say...I'm saying the same things now that I said during the very 1st debate (Poor Gore, I still feel bad for what he was subjected to without a fistfight...That took will-power!)...I was really unable to even put two words together, in hopes of forming anything 'even' resembling a sentence...(then, the 'after the debate' political-pundit, talking-heads and their unbelievably-stupid comments...which continue on (& on) today...And yes, once again...yes, I'll say it once again..."We are surely 'all' headed straight to a petroleum-based, lead-painted, chinese-made, plastic handbasket (from walmart)...sadly, its deserved...that could the saddest part of it all (naturally, I mean besides the all the body bags and families without children or futures)..the saddest thing is that 'we deserve it', because 'for all the INACTION, we have to face the REACTION'...

...(OOPS, GOTTA' RUN...Glenn Beck (or one of those other 'experts') is coming on the tube...and I really need to spend the time clipping some coupons, so I can eat this week!...
Good Grief!...Gee Beev, I gotta go!...
As always, my apologies for the typos and slaying of the english language...I just couldn't afford much in the pedagogy department these last 7+ years...Kindest Regards...
Sir Vertual

After watching this program and reading some of the comments both for and against the premise of this episode of Bill Moyers Journal, I have come to the conclusion that this war in Iraq and the true costs in dollars and blood make little difference to the powers in Washington. Just like the Roman Republic and the empire that came after it, the money and blood make little difference, as long as the empire and economic spheres for our interests get their way. I don't think there is any reversing what is currently happening in the Middle East. The U.S. will continue to be more and more hated from without, just as the Roman empire was hated from without. An empire cannot be destroyed from without until it has morally decayed from within, but that time is coming, perhaps within my children's or grandchildren's lifetime. Why do you think we have bases all over the world? For the security and goodwill of other nations? No Way! Those bases and installations are for our empire. The larger our empire the more difficult it will be to protect and maintain. Just wait, we will see the return of the draft. If you think there is an uproar of protest now, wait till the draft is thrown on the table. We haven't seen protest like that since the 1960's, but it's coming. I have to agree though with most of the bloggers, that the neocons are mostly responsible for the newest state of affairs. If Gore had been elected we probably wouldn't have invaded Iraq. I can't help but think that the current admistration new more about 9/11 than they will ever admit. They may in fact have allowed it to happen if not blatently been behind the whole thing in the first place!
As scipio watched Carthage burn, he wept. He wept because he knew that someday this could be Rome's fate.

It's indeed a tragedy there is so much suffering being caused by the US both abroad and at home. The US has suffered almost 2.68 million casualties since its founding. What these people fought and died and suffered for is now being squandered by neo-fascists have have unleashed a horrible national security beast on its own people. God help us all, for I think it may be too late to save America--or the America of our founding ideals.

The mainstream media, except for BBC and the Guardian, have ignored evidence presented by Rep. Kucinich on the House floor May 23 that the real reason for going to Iraq was US control of Iraqi oil. Plans were underway even before 9/11. The hydrocarbon act which the Bush administration has declared one of the benchmarks for the Iraqi parliament to pass was drafted in English. All one has to do is search online for Iraqi oil. How else can the size of the American embassy in Baghdad, now under construction and currently employing 5500 people according to MSNBC, be explained? I hope Mr. Moyers will put a spotlight on this very, very soon. I found a clip on You Tube just today that Rep. Jim Moran, (D, Va) asked the director of a film "Iraq for Sale" to show just 4 minutes of the film to Congress but the Republicans blocked it. Mr. Moyers, please address this topic and give us all sides of the story.

I was 18 years old when i joined the Marines to fight in the Vietnam war. The reason we were given for going to war was to support SEATO,the South East Asia Treating Organization. But we were advised what SEATO meant. I figured it meant to stop communist from invading the U.S. I witnessed murder, mayhem, and inhumanity in Vietnam. I believe many young soldiers and Marines in Iraq witness similar experiences and have little understanding why they are fighting. Long after their tour of duty ends in Iraq many of the young infantry warriors (considered cannon fodder by some in the rear echelon or back in the U.S.) will still be fighting the war in their heads like I am, trying to make peace with themselves. Their is no humanity in war. Hate prevails above all else.

thank you, thank you mr moyers. as a volunteer for the organization Veterans for Peace, i was especially proud that you included a small piece of the Arlington West Memorial. we are showing the cost of war every week with our memorial. thousands of visitors from around the world have visited it and are very person at a time does make a difference, we need to believe that to maintainsome sense of sanity in this crazy,horrific world community right now. Peace

Bill & Staff -

In the episode discussing the cost of war, you say of an attack in the green zone that it "was shattered by an Al-Queda attack." Which Al-Queda? The one whose members perpetrated attacks on the world trade center on 9/11, or the apparently unrelated group that has been claiming responsibility for suicide bombings in Iraq under the name "Al-Queda in Iraq"? It's a big difference that the media has largely ignored. I'd recommend you have Juan Cole on your show to inform us all a bit better about this.


With soldiers caught in wasting combat, each day that President Bush is not impeached, his adminisatan uses red blood to whitewash the truth. And, behind the whitewash, Bush is morally insane, intellectually incompetent, and guilty of the only human terror that has ever stalked the world: ignorance equipped with power. Since Bush and company will never say they are impotent for genuinely moral action, every direct and indirect manner of support he receives from Congress is defunct for anything, other than self-promotion. It is as if our representatives� mantra is �God forbid that my legislative career should be sacrificed to spare the life of a solider; even if that life is being wasted on a bankrupt mission, borne from deception, sustained by corruption, and upheld by blatantly political and capitalistic expediencies�.

America�s government is in a state of moral paralysis; and because we are not represented by our representatives, we are no longer a government of the people, but a ship adrift. As Bush infects the world with the same diseased principles that he says he is fighting, he represents a kind of moral-Ebola. Truly, some habits are worse than others: Alcoholics ask for more drinks, junkies ask for more dope, but Bush asked for a surge and got it! Therefore, with compassion: Dear Mr. Bush, if you really love Jesus, stop crucifying the truth. And, Dear Congressmen: Stop making soldiers subservient to statements and votes geared to maintaining your careers over their lives! If for no other reason other than being sane enough to know that it is time to pull the plug on this stupidity, vote like a soldier in Iraq who wants and deserves to come home! Next, stop pretending that you have wisdom for peace, and look for folks that do! With all speed, now more than ever, do anything and everything to bring our children home. Then, hold to the fact that the only way to honor the life of a soldier who deserves to live is to let him. Therefore, with compassion, impeach every zombie of courage that maintains the Bush Adminisatan.

Rev.,Prof., Gola Wolf Richards,

the cost/price of war is always human conscience

This morning I heard on NPR that 85% of the Republican electorate still support Bush and the war in Iraq--and presumably a war with Iran if that comes to pass. Therefore, as weak and spineless as the Democrats in both houses still appear to be, it is important to remove the Republicans from the White House, executive agencies, and the Cabinet in order to see any potential for change. Dennis Kucinich is the only Presidential candidate who is REALLY "from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," to quote Howard Dean. Now we are seeing the costs of having a system with only two viable parties to choose from.

Right on. Keep speaking truth to power.

I think it is wrong to imply that this war is all about power and the inability of politicians (in this case Bush) to admit they are wrong and pull out of a stupid blunder as the Professor stated. Believing this gives us the false impression that we just have to get rid of of Bush and everything will be alright. But this war and the impending war in Iran has little to do with Bush. This war isn't merely about a power hungry and stubborn man-- as comforting as that is to believe (and as convienient for democrats to have us believe it)-- even though Bush is power hungry and stubborn. This is about a world capitalist crisis. It's about the waning economic clout of the U.S. and its desperate bid to reclaim its ECONOMIC power at gun point--which is always a last ditch and ultimately futile. The Proffesor fails to mention that economically we were better off and could afford to leave Vietnam and still barely recover. That isn't the story now. Knowing this--knowing how this war is NOT like the VN war is more imortant than understanding the similarities. The proffessor and people like her--to include Bill Moyers--unfortunatley still believe that the other party of the corporate elite--the Democrats--is somehow different. That justice will prevail if we can just get them back in power. That's what a lot of voters still believed in 2006 yet here we are with a democratic majority and nothing accomplished in terms of ending the war. We can't leave Iraq because that was never the plan; not because we're too stubborn to leave or because we foolishly voted in a power monger. People are going to be in for a rude awakening when a democrat takes over and none of the police state measures built by this admin are torn down and a war with iran is started or continued. But perhaps that has to happen before this country realizes that a government of, for, and by the people needs to be built from the ground up to replace a government of for and by the plutocracy. And that this needs to happen on an international scale.

I certainly agree that the Iraqi people have paid a much higher price for Mr. Bush' war. There is no comparison regarding the suffering born by the American people and the Iraqis.

But this is just one essay. You can't cover everything in one essay. Sadly, I believe a significant percent of Americans simply do not care about foreign casualties.

This adminstration has done a very good job of 'protecting' the majority of Americans from information regarding the real world cost of this insane venture.

The wounded and dead are always brought in to the country at night. While running up a debt load that is going to stiffle economic development for years to come, the Republicans give tax breaks to the rich. It looks like things are working OK only because the pay back hasn't started yet. He has left dealing with that to another president.

Americans need to become very aware of the price that the American people are really paying and are yet to pay for what they have allowed their leaders to do.

I think every young American contemplating military service and their families, should know the reality of what they are signing themselves away to, before that decision is made. A bit of fairness in advertising.

You could do a miniseries on what actually faces and what actually happens to the majority of returning vets, especially those with physical and mental injuries. They need to know just how much "care and respect" American vets are really looking forward to.

Too many Americans are ingnorant of the real world cost they are paying for this fiasco.

They need to know the real price the people of the region are paying but too many don't really care about that part.

Karen Eubel: I was touched to read your comments. I believe I know the feelings you describe, the insanity you see around you. I am sorry that we see the insanity and sorry for the feelings it engenders in us.

And yet.... Of course the insanity didn't start 7 years ago. It is insane to believe that consumerism leads to democracy or to ecological sustainability.

I was happy in my delusion. We must now wake up. There is a much bigger picture than The War.

I find myself comparing the costs that shall have been paid by citizens of the United States of America to the costs to those who by chance were born into Iraq. That burned soldier may not look forward to the health care of Paris Hilton, but what can his Iraqi counterpart look forward to? Yes, a lot of wealth will have been transfered from future Americans to the coffers of military contractors. How does this amount compare to the loss of Iraqi national oil wealth? It pales, per capita, no doubt.

Still there's another cost that comes to mind. Those Iraqis have suffered under the sword of Hussein and they have suffered the paint from a broad brush in the minds of many. Too many I meet in the U.S. are eager to paint the world in these simple colors. All the while I hear lamentations from fellow Americans about the loss of international prestige and respect we suffer because of George W. Bush's Middle East missteps. Is this any less delusional? We citizens of the United States have imagined ourselves to be masters of our own fate, and we have imagined the children of Arabia and Islam and Palestine and Judea to be masters as well. I find this to be of the most dangerous manner of hubris. We suffer this delusion to justify our indifference and our greed, and we hardly notice when this delusion serves as conduit -- transforming fears of an indifferent god into reckless war spilling alien blood.

Yes, I am saying it: If The War serves to awaken the U.S. citizenry from slumber in time to preserve Constitutional rule of law it shall have been a bargain well made. I am not saying this because I love America. I am saying this because I love freedom and open society. I am saying this because I believe the children of Iraq and of Mexico have as much right to the pursuit of happiness as do I.

The people of the United States of America created the most powerful economy in history. Then we sold it for baubles and beads. Is it too late to void the sale? What cost freedom? Are we yet rich enough in spirit to bargain for the blood of our own children, or for the blood of children not our own?

The largest cost may be the lies & greed we all accept in allowing the wars to happen. It's ironic that you brought so much reference to Vietnam into this show. I have always hated conspiracy theories, but there is increasing evidence in our recent news that many of the same players in this war share deep roots from earlier crimes - communist scares, Vietnam war escalation, the watergate episode, toppling of governments in South America, Iran/Contra scandal, & current war contractor profiteering.

I was only in 7th grade when JFK was shot, but I recall the sense at that time that the Warren Commission report was commonly viewed as absurdly inadequate in explaining the murder. Why is it that we have never made a serious effort at investigating these stories, and that so many who have tried to share their experience with these events have been killed.
just one example:

It would be interesting to see our press brave enough to speak truthfully about why we refuse to prosecute the known terrorist Luis Posada Carriles:

There is a very common, and clearly defined thread running thru our last half century - and alot of information that is willfully being ignored. Is it simply a fear of being the first to say 'that the emperor has no clothes', or some greater fear that keeps us from acknowledging what is right in front of us?

you make a very good point:

"This administration NEVER once at the outset used the "free the Iraqis and give them democracy" theme as an excuse for this war. Simply because that was never the intention for this war."

I would add as a reminder that

From a psychological perspective, the Bush administration promoted the misguided and destructive war in Iraq by targeting five core concerns that often govern our lives--concerns about vulnerability, injustice, distrust, superiority, and helplessness. Looking ahead, the continued occupation of Iraq--or an attack on Iran--will likely be sold to us in much the same way. I examine these warmongering appeals--and how to counter them--in a new online video entitled "Resisting the Drums of War" available for viewing at

This administration NEVER once at the outset used the "free the Iraqis and give them democracy" theme as an excuse for this war. Simply because that was never the intention for this war.

We have no honor?

Where is the honor in invading/occupying a country that had no ties to 9/11?

Where is the honor in invading/occupying a country, abusing, maiming and killing the citizens of that country and destroying their infrastructure?

Where is the honor in sending our troops to their deaths for this trumped up war?

Your statement is correct, Mr. Cobb, but not in the manner you meant it to be taken.

The United States has no honor.

The United States has acted, and continues to act, dishonestly and despicably.

Thank you Mr. Moyer for producing these valuable segments on this on-going insult to humanity that is called the "war" in Iraq. Thank you PBS for having the courage to show this footage during this time of cringing and servile media. I hope that the message will finally reach each and every american. And that as a country we will come to accept our complicity in these crimes against humanity. We are not doing enough to stop this occupation. I fear that not until the cost becomes an unbearable burden to the average american will this perversion of justice will end. By then the cost to us, to the Iraqi people and to the world as a whole will threaten our common existence.

Last night watching Mr Moyers' interview with Ms Young, I was struck by how much the language of Secretary Rice and of other advocates of this war, as paraphrased by Ms Young, reflects the language and reasoning of drug addicts.

Much could be said about this, but two refrains stand out. First, "just a little bit longer": the addict persistently claims, and even sincerely imagines, that this is one last time, and that only a little bit more -- alcohol, gambling, heroin -- will be enough and then it will all be enough. The second theme is the doomsday scenario. Yes, this is bad, admits the addict. But the alcohol or gambling or heroin or sex is necessary so that life will not be utterly devastated and forlorn. Life without the drug can be imagined as nothing but slipping into darkness and chaos, succumbing to unseen and uncontrollable forces against which the drug is imagined to be the only bulwark, and indeed is glamorized as such.

I would like to see more attention given to this dynamic. The work of Dr Robert Jay Lifton comes to mind. There must be considerable scholarship on this romance with violence -- supposed to be a solution to problems, even as the evidence stacks up of how deeply it is the cause of them. Nor should it be a surprise if this is neglected by our mainstream media, whose frivolous and sentimental treatment of violence goes a long way to cultivating such casual, lazy and self-serving thinking in our populace and among our leaders. Mr Moyers could begin by interviewing Chris Hedges, not on his recent work on fundamentalist religion but on his earlier book, "War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning".

As for the cost of the war -- in that too, it is like addiction. Yes, the money and destructiveness. But the greatest costs must be in what cold-hearted businessmen call "opportunity costs". The word "waste" is too harsh not to be taboo, the more so the more it is true. Yet how much good could have been done by even one of the fine and earnest young men and women whose lives and idealism are being squandered by this schoolboy adventure?

I do not wish to minimize what our troops and what innocent Iraqis have had to endure, but I feel that people like myself (65, graduate education)are also suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Why? Because for almost 7 years now we have had to live with insanity. Policies that fly in the face of everything I ever learned in elementary school, high school, college and grad school. And always told that I am either "unpatriotic" or an "conspiracy nut", or that I am an "alarmist". I feel a great dispair and I believe there are many people like me. It's like watching the twin towers fall, which I did on 9/11 from my terrace on the lower east side of New York. It was unbelievable! I feel the same way about the Bush administration. To count the casualties, then hear the spin is like being in an insane asylum. We are all so tired.

Personally, and I think with everyone in the country, this war has cost me in the sense that my first waking moments, much as they are concerned with ordinary daily events, begin with the heaviness of the awful responsibilities of a citizen whose country is involved in an illegal and remorseless war. Shame mixed with helplessness and guilt that I am not stopping this horror. And that has been the case from the moment it began. It may not be the physical trauma and outright insanity induced by active participation, but we are all victims of an ongoing traumatic stress syndrome, even if we do not have to flinch every time a bomb goes off as the Iraqis do. I have not 'lost' loved ones, but I have seen my children shrink in the natural pride they should have in their country for all of its goodness. I want to restore that for my grandchildren, who as yet are unaware of this disconnect, though the older one is beginning to be.

We are all, even those who pretend not to be, deeply, deeply ashamed. All I can hope is that as there were only two "World Wars" perhaps now there can be only two "Vietnams".

PBS is an American agency so I understand why the focus on the "American" cost of the war..

However, I expect fair reporting not to fall in the same mistake that the war planners made when they based their war decision on only the cost of war to America and neglected the cost on other sides. I am sure if the American people had been aware of the facts of the war when it was in the planning stages they would have prevented it, or at least prevented it from inflicting such horrible costs. Please put more effort and give more room to exposing the costs which the war is inflicting on all sides so that hopefully Americans and the rest of the peoples of the world could stop it or at least minimize its costs.

Last night Mr. Moyers asked Ms. Young on the subject of why we invaded Iraq, "Is it in our DNA?' I must assume that Mr. Moyers has read "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins. Mr. Perkins explains from an insider's viewpoint why we have done the evil we have done, thoughout central and south america and the mideast. This is not DNA. This is corporate greed, pure and simple. The last two national elections put absolute power into the hands of the 6 most corrupt humans ever to hold office in the United States. They have robbed the US treasury of its last dime, and continue to do so,will continue to do so until the day they leave office. The transfer of all wealth from individuals to corporations is complete. It has been an enormous success.
Mr. Perkins explains why we invaded Iraq, which matches reasons for every other invasion since WWII. The reason is to create the absolute dominance of US corporations over every last inch of the planet, to abolish every trace of national and ethnic culture on the globe and replace it with the plastic existence of highways, strip malls and tract housing, to force American products on nations and peoples who do not want them. Saddam Hussein refused to play ball and allow the US to overrun Iraq and install Citigroup on every street corner. So the "hitmen " failed and the "jackals", as he calls them, failed, and the next step was war, as it always is in US policy. After reading his book, I determined to leave the United States for the rest of my life. I am filled with shame and disgust and know without doubt that it will take four or five generations to undo the damage of the last six years. And that is assuming we begin the process of undoing now. today. It will certainly not be repaired in my lifetime

Mr. Moyers,

As you might agree, we have no constructive leadership in our country. Those who may have the ability keep out of sight, knowing what folly ensues.

I think we desperately need a leader who is intelligent, has old fashioned common sense, is at ease with those different from him/her, has compassion for all people in need and the strength to return our country to its earlier state when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were sensibly interpreted, as opposed to the current misinterpretations by people of dubious integrity who reap rich rewards manipulating our government to meet selfish goals and lots of money to which they have no right.

Thank God you're back and able to speak for the many who can see through the manipulations, greed, theft and frankly, pervasive ill will. Anyone who wants to look and listen will certainly see the rampant corruption and incompetence in this disgusting Administration. We all want and deserve better, before it is too late.

Not to mention the enormous challenges of illegal aliens, social services, a worsening huge trade deficit, the severe damage to our middle class, environmental concerns, a poor and inequitable educational system, and an outdated and inefficient tax system. And on top of all this, there are many undisclosed secrets hiding wrongdoing, and a Congress and Administration whose reputation is spoiled by deals under the table, fraudulent intentions, incompetence, immorality and cannot be relied upon for honest information.

Mr. Moyers, please STAY.
Mr. Gore, where are you when we need you so badly?

Please excuse the typo, I meant to type L. Paul Bremer III, not Paul J. Bremer III, in identifying the Presidential Envoy/U.S. Administrator of Iraq.

There are over 120,000 private contractors currently deployed in Iraq and yesterday, a House panel put some of the harshest criticisms of this privatization of war into the congressional record for the first time.
The Nation magazine investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill testified before a House Appropriations hearing on defense contracting. Scahill is author of the book "Blackwater: The Rise of the World?s Most Powerful Mercenary Army." His book is now on the NY Times best sellers list and he's been on The Daily Show as well. I understand that Mr. Moyers has only so much time and resources to devote to various subjects. I think it's vitally important that the American people are made aware of the lack of oversight of the tens of thousands of contractors deployed in Iraq, that there are 48,000 employees of private military companies in Iraq alone, that these private forces work for US companies like Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp, as well as companies from across the globe, that some contractors make in a month what many active-duty soldiers make in a year, what effect this has on our military over there, and most importantly, that there's a double standard in the application of the law. Soldiers who commit crimes or acts of misconduct are prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. An edict was issued by Ambassador Paul J.Bremer III called Order 17. It was issued the day before he left Baghdad in June of 2004, and it granted sweeping immunity to all contractors under Iraqi law at a time when he was allegedly handing over sovereignty to an Iraqi government. To date only 2 contractors have been prosecuted for crimes committed over a 4 year period. One for pornography on his computer at Abu Ghraib, and another for stabbing a co-worker in Iraq. And yet, Mr. Scahill relates how one US general, outraged by this lack of accountability, documented in a two month period twelve cases of contractors shooting at civilians that resulted in six deaths and three injuries.
Mr. Scahill is quoted as saying during his congressional sub-committee hearing that, "They have not been prosecuted under the UCMJ. They have not been prosecuted under US civilian law. They have not been prosecuted under Iraqi law. US contractors in Iraq reportedly have their own motto: "what happens here today stays here today." That should be chilling to everyone who believes that warfare, above all government functions, must be subject to transparency, accountability and the rule of law."
Besides interviewing Robert Fisk, I firmly believe Mr. Moyers should devote a segment to this shadowy side of war carried on by corporations who profit from war, and the mercenary army that most Americans have no awareness of because the mainstream corporate media doesn't cover it.

May 11th program. Marilyn Young is unbelievable. She bashes Condoleeza Rice for half-truths and then use the EXACT same tactics. She says you may find someone--as if there are so few--in the "green zone" that doesn't want the US to leave. Is that so? I didn't see any reporting from you guys backing this unbelievable distortion! Couldn't you at least do a poll, a survey or find some schmuck in Iraq that wants the US to leave?

Why is it then that I receive numerous emails from a number of soldiers... friends... in IRAQ that say JUST THE OPPOSITE of this crappy little program. I constantly am asking them, is it true what the US media reports and the unwavering reply is no!

Of course, there are those who don't want us there. The same politcos that have their own agendas. But you and Marilyn make it sound like it is an overwhelming no. That it is virtually impossible to find someone who doesn't want us there and that is just not true.

I am soooo sick of the political, PBS-biased, or just simply media-biased opinions that are stated as absolute fact. Shame on you Bill. You don't have my vote for quality reporting.

I WANT to believe! I often love PBS because it is not the (literaly) commercialized mainstream, but such blantant crap like this shatters my faith in unbiased-media reporting from even PBS. You guys have just as much of an agenda as the government does, but are so much WORSE because you falsely cloak it in the guise as some holy "unbiased" media reporting. What a bunch of malarky! This stinks!

It's as though each generation really does have to relearn what the former (may have) learned. We're lucky to have written histories and snapshot film histories, at least the journalistic ones Bill Moyers does.

Bill asked his guest whether she thought it was "in our DNA". Martin Amis, in his book Koba the Dread, in talking about Hitler and Stalin used the phrase "species shame".

We seem to be up to our limbic system in aggression and we use any excuse -- it can be anything -- to exercise it.

Somehow we need to establish ways that are so obstructive as to disallow impulsive or self-aggrandizing or brute or self-deceptive force.

Something has to deflect the energy we direct so violently.

I used to think pacifism was hopeless and naive. It may be that pacifism -- if we can figure a way to institutionalize it -- is our only way to avoid extinction.

It's too bad it took Mr. Moyers so long to calculate the costs of the occupation of Iraq. I wrote Mr. Moyers a letter a few years ago critical of some other video essay he did about the sacrifices we Americans should be making to occupy Iraq and how great we were for helping those poor ignorant barbarians (that was the connotation), like it was going to be some post WW2 Germany or Japan. Now he comes out with shows portraying the invasion and occupation as a mistake, well, Mr. Moyers, you are partly responsible for the cheerleading of this huge mistake. You were warned that it was silly to believe that it would ever be a success, even if we did all have our war ration books you so fondly remembered from some past conflict. I applaud your display of the realities of current American foreign policy, but maybe you should use a moment of air time to confess your role in encouraging this mistake, instead of the role you could have been played trying to prevent it.

But will there be any cost of conscience?

I pray so. In the years ahead may those demagogues whose incredible hubris brought us this tragic misadventure be haunted by the horrors they unleashed upon Iraq, by the squandering of America's reputation, by the waste of American lives and treasure, and by the good deeds left undone because of the misapplication of minds and money.

They will not always hold power and when removed from it, will perhaps no longer be able to ignore truth - long may they live, long may their memories last, and deep may their anguish be.

(Thanks Bill Moyers - it is great to have you back)

"We feel powerless" is right. The lessons not learned from Viet Nam have never been so well-articulated. Thank you. I just hope enough members of Congress were watching who can vote to put an end to this maddness the Rice keeps espousing.

Thank you.I wouldlike to suggest a book by Robert Fisk "The great war for civilization" for anyone who wants to get better educated about the Iraq war, the whole Middle east contest, and our repeated interventions in the region. Actually I would like you to interview the author.

Just keep reporting the truth; you understand your viewers aren't as stupid as ABC, CBS and NBC thinks we are. I wish you could have had time to delve into the profiteering via this war and how our constitution is assaulted under the guise of war on terrorism. While we are distracted some get filthy rich, some get more power, others die on propaganda, and we pay even more for gasoline. Focus on all the corruption and follow the money. Thanks again for a good program!

I have seen this on several of the right-wing newscasts (talk shows?). Either the guest or the host will state how our intentions in going into Iraq were to free Iraq and give the Iraqis a democratic country, but this effort has been sidetracked by the "civil war" between the native elements in Iraq. They are trying to re-write history by turning the public's thoughts to reasons other than weapons of mass destruction. They no longer speak of the "smoking gun" turning out to be a "mushroom cloud". Also, they are trying to get the public to forget that the REAL reason we invaded Iraq was for OIL! I hope that you will continue, in future programs, to remind the public of the REAL reasons we went to war in Iraq.

Thank you, Mr. Moyers, for your efforts to educate the American public. Let's hope that you're not just "preaching to the choir"!
Sherman Robinson

Thank you, Bill Moyers, for this essay. When the program closed, I turned to my wife and said, "If there were a draft, things would change in a hurry." She agreed. We both remember the draft and the war efforts of World War II.

YOu may be interested in the curious parallel to the Vietnam and Iraq war in a post today on 5/11/07-the boer war.

Thanks again for your reporting, guests, and views.
Bob Funk

The largest cost may be the lies & greed we all accept in allowing the wars to happen. It's ironic that you brought so much reference to Vietnam into this show. I have always hated conspiracy theories, but there is increasing evidence in our recent news that many of the same players in this war share deep roots from earlier crimes - communist scares, Vietnam war escalation, the watergate episode, toppling of governments in South America, Iran/Contra scandal, & current war contractor profiteering.

I was only in 7th grade when JFK was shot, but I recall the sense at that time that the Warren Commission report was commonly viewed as absurdly inadequate in explaining the murder. Why is it that we have never made a serious effort at investigating these stories, and that so many who have tried to share their experience with these events have been killed.
just one example:

It would be interesting to see our press brave enough to speak truthfully about why we refuse to prosecute the known terrorist Luis Posada Carriles:

There is a very common, and clearly defined thread running thru our last half century - and alot of information that is willfully being ignored. Is it simply a fear of being the first to say 'that the emperor has no clothes', or some greater fear that keeps us from acknowledging what is right in front of us?

You people have no honor.How much sand do you people have over your heads? Sure we can run from the fight now when we can win,no let us run away and give them time to gain power and kill us all and that mean's you too,sorry but they hate you too.

Do you EVER invite on a guest with whom you fundamentally disagree, and do you EVER engage in debate rather than in mutual back-slapping? If YOU don't feel competent to debate, then bring on two intelligent people who disagree, let them debate, and you can just sit back and watch. The professor who discussed Vietnam made a number of assertions about Iraq that could easily have been challenged on purely factual grounds if there had been someone there willing to challenge her (as you obviously were not). I would have been sincerely interested in hearing how she would have responded to such challenge. Instead, I simply (once again) got to hear your ideas spouted by someone else who merely agrees with you (which seems to be the chief criterion for being invited onto your show). It's like watching the Keith Olbermann program -- he, like you, never interviews anyone who will debate with him. At least O'Reilly allows on people who will disagree with him -- which is why I think O'Reilly is a more honest "journalist" than you or Olbermann.

Your production this evening (May 11th) concerning the conundrum that is Iraq was more informative than most of what's available. But, for the life of me, I don't understand how any serious analysis of Iraq can ignore the issue of oil. I heard no mention of the word, even once, in the 20 minute segment you showed tonight. Oil is why we are there, oil is why we won't leave, procuring the oil is Mr. Bush's criteria for "victory", and the Iraqi opposition is rooted in their determination not to let it happen. Mr. Bush knows this; thus his "surge", to make Bagdad safe for the proported democratic government to pass the "oil law".

Any discussion of the situation in the Middle East that doesn't include consideration of the fact that we, the United States, must have their oil to continue our cherished "American Way of Life", is simply irresponsible journalism. I expect better of you.

The largest cost may be the lies & greed we all accept in allowing the wars to happen. It's ironic that you brought so much reference to Vietnam into this show. I have always hated conspiracy theories, but there is increasing evidence in our recent news that many of the same players in this war share deep roots from earlier crimes - communist scares, Vietnam war escalation, the watergate episode, toppling of governments in South America, Iran/Contra scandal, & current war contractor profiteering.

I was only in 7th grade when JFK was shot, but I recall the sense at that time that the Warren Commission report was commonly viewed as absurdly inadequate in explaining the murder. Why is it that we have never made a serious effort at investigating these stories, and that so many who have tried to share their experience with these events have been killed.
just one example:

It would be interesting to see our press brave enough to speak truthfully about why we refuse to prosecute the known terrorist Luis Posada Carriles:

There is a very common, and clearly defined thread running thru our last half century - and alot of information that is willfully being ignored. Is it simply a fear of being the first to say 'that the emperor has no clothes', or some greater fear that keeps us from acknowledging what is right in front of us?

When we talk about the cost of this war we should also include the burden that we place on the neighbouring countries like Syria, Jordon and Iran, which have taken in so many refugees. We only talk about these countries with scorn, totally diregarding the strain this influx will have on their economies and their societies. Recently The US government graciously announced that it would take in 7,000 refugees. Compare that to the millions crossing the land borders into neighburign countries already short of water and food. Just as the problems we created for countries like Pakistan and Iran when we started the troubles in Afghanistan the results of which we are seeing now. We do not talk about this even as collateral damage. We do not discuss this aspect at all.

This is a happening that will have larger ramifications all over the world in the years to come. We have not only created refugees and internally displaced people, but also hosts who must live with the consequences of our adventures.

This is why we fight "them" in other people's backyards.

Dear Bill Moyers,
I am a fan of your work and a fellow journalist. I was watching "Bill Moyers Journal" tonight on PBS and the Price of War segment made me cry. To that end, moving me, I say kudos. But after you shook me as a viewer, why didn't you go the next step? It would have been a very useful bit of journalism if you then showed viewers what they can do about it.

I think many citizens are feeling powerless right now, in the face of this administration. Even if you just offered viewers the link to representatives' Web sites and suggested they send an e-mail, I think it would have been much more helpful to the viewers.

Gene Myers
Viewer and NJ journalist

It is as I expected this war to be, shock and awe to the American public. I had hoped I would be wrong. We have yet to imagine what we have given up and what we have sacrificed now and in the far distance future. It is amazing how we allow our leaders, so full of wisdom, to rush us into repeating the mistakes of the past. Melodrama---hummmm, sure, just look at the melodrama of the families of our fallen and wounded soliders. Get real ya say? It is real!!!
Thanks Mr. Moyers, glad to see you back.

The final cost of this war will be counted not just in dollars or even the lives lost on Iraqi soil. It will be counted by the impact of thousands of returning vets suffering from PTSS and other disabilities. The gang members and neo-naazis that enlisted in order to get military training. The un-accounted for (misplaced) US dollars that are now in the hands of only God knows who. The underfunded schools, police departments and infrastructure projects. And a national debt that will take generations frm which to recover.

Jake, if what affected you most in the "Cost of War" episode is Bill Moyers' face expression and rhetoric tools, I feel sorry for you.

Mr. Moyers, thank you for showing us a glimpse of the real face of the war.

Congratulations to Bill Moyers.

Thank goodness there's at least one person with the capability to do so who will go on a broadcast and level with our citizens.

The thrust of the problem as I see it is the absence of shared sacrifice. If there were a draft instituted immediately, our involvement in Iraq would end in 60 days, or fewer. There would be a cry throughout the land such that the hard heart of Pharaoh would certainly relent to the will of the people. Instead, NPR reported today that Sec. Gates ordered 17,000 new specially armored vehicles for Iraq at a cost in excess of a Billion dollars. Those trucks won't even be ready for deployment by September, when the decision is supposed to be made about success of the surge. Surge is just a euphemism for escalation. Until there is shared sacrifice, Iraq will be the killing ground for America's cannon fodder, and the Iraqis who have no other place to go.
Before tonight, only the BBC were willing to explain that as bad as anyone has reported Iraq is, it is infinitely worse in reality. I cannot help but wonder if Mr. Bush has encouraged his daughters to sign up for military service as a matter of duty for the privilege of living in this wonderful country.

What a bloody waste. I'm ashamed to be associated with such an atrocity.

oh dear lord! the final war-cost counter with a fadeout and the hyper-concerned face of mr. moyers was the most ridiculous thing i've seen on pbs in a long time. get real! you provide intelligent repartee with marilyn young about the administration's destructive hubris and then give in to your own saccharine hubris with that final shot. This succeeded the dishonest equivocation about the cost of the war and the exact amount of dollars that could have been re-appropriated elsewhere. Your show has a unique perch, and you needn't gussy it up with melodrama like this.

horse-puckey, you weaken your own position.

Thank you. The war's cost is probably more than the website's amount. (See Steiglitz, et. al. from Columbia U.) However, even that amount is enough demonstrate the lost opportunities and future lost costs for our country.

What we need is a constitutional amendment excluding Texans from higher office.

Hey are there captioned versions of these clips?


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