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You know we live in a strange world when we have spent $1.3 trillion on a misguided adventure that has made us significantly less secure, and yet we have been able to significantly improve our national security with a different effort that required only $100 million (1/13,000 of the cost). But such are the life and times of the Bush administration.

The two events I am referring to are the war in Iraq and an effort to finance the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

A new report released by Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee places the total cost of the war in Iraq at $1.3 trillion (so far). To put that in perspective, that would cost $16,500 for the average family of four. And what has the war in Iraq accomplished? It has tarnished America’s image around the world, decreasing our ability to work with foreign governments to fight terrorism and increasing anti-Americanism that directly leads to terrorism. At the same time, it has destabilized the Middle East, threatening American political and economic interests in the region.

On the other hand, since 2001, the Bush administration has commendably provided $100 million to help Pakistan secure its nuclear weapons. As Joe Biden likes to assert, the real concern about nuclear proliferation in the Islamic world is not Iran (who is years away from developing a nuclear weapon), but instead Pakistan. Many of Pakistan’s nuclear facilities are not adequately secure, and Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan was found to have sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea, and Libya. Due to this lack of nuclear security, there is a real risk that Islamic fundamentalists could obtain a nuclear weapon, which could then be used against the United States. In addition, Musharraf’s government is not at all stable, as he has faced three assassination attempts since 2003. If his regime were to collapse, Islamic fundamentalists could take control of the country’s nuclear arsenal. While there have been problems regarding the implementation of the nuclear security program, it is exactly the kind of effort that makes our nation more secure in a 21st-century world.

Instead of spending $1.3 trillion on a war that has made our nation less safe, we should have put the focus on financing these more mundane initiatives, such as the effort to secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, that actually make America safer and do it at a fraction of the cost. Unfortunately, the Bush administration’s approach with regard to Iraq was “shoot first, ask questions later."