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Monday, January 17, 2005

The Costs of War 

Dr. King was moved by the cost of the conflict in Vietnam to deliver one of his most significant speeches, on April 4, 1967. The speech, entitled, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence," laid down his case against US military involvement. Mentioned first among his reasons to oppose the war, King tied the failure of antipoverty programs to the drain on public coffers caused by the war.

King said, "There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such."

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If anyone wonders about the cost of war today in Iraq, it might be worth looking at a recent post from Angry Bear, who discusses some of the hidden costs, before linking to a previous dissection of the war's running tab.

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