Death to a Nation is pleased to announce the winners of its first-ever Student Essay Contest, held summer 2006. Today we present Ayn Codina of Costa Rica, 2nd-place winner in the junior division.

Alexia Gilmore
Executive director,

War can mean power, land, resources, or money. But war also means chaos and losses of money and people. Everything has a price, but is killing people a decent price? Is invading a perfectly healthy nation in exchange for a bloodbath a logical deal? People build the buildings, grow the plants, and run the nation, and if they are killed, what’s the point of having a nation that doesn’t work? Thomas Paine stated, “He that is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.” The author is the hand of war, decided on by the foolish, arrogant, impatient, and irresponsible. It opens a new world of pain and suffering, loss and doom. War is death; death to people, death to resources, death to the economy.

The death involved in war is disgusting, killing random people in a country just because they are in the way of a political debate that they themselves did not help create. Family members are killed by the violent destruction of bombs and gunfire. In the Vietnam War, many were tortured for entertainment, food was low, and troops looted hospitals for medical supplies. People died from diseases and starvation because of food and medical shortages. Military troops were held prisoner for more than four years, and a lot of them died in poorly kept cells. These bodies have caused a lot of mental pain for the families at home who didn’t know if their sons, husbands, or brothers were alive or not. And this is very similar to what’s going on in Iraq today. It has been estimated throughout May 2003 to March 2004, there was an average of 600 deaths per 30 days. After three years of war during March 2005 to March 2006, the toll has increased to 1,100 deaths every 30 days ( With that in mind, for every person killed, there are people who are missing him or her horribly – the children who mourn for parents or the parents who mourn for their children. They will never forget that person. Family members have experienced a form of hell.

The hospitals have the equipment, people, and knowledge to save people’s lives, but under war they lack the ability to save. Being caught by the wrath of war is never kind. Doctors in Iraq have the proper training to cure the sick children and adults, but they can’t save people anymore from the lack of medicine or electrical power. U.S. troops have raided their medical supply causing most of the sick to die uncomfortably. An official said, “These [hospitals] have … been raided twice a week by the American forces with excuses that they are searching for militants. They [U.S. soldiers] break every door which is closed, play with our records, and sometimes even detain some of our staff. The Americans are not adhering to any laws” (Jamail). The staff is left useless in helping the wounded or sick. Once again, Paine’s wisdom stands true.

Iraq, once a country with electricity, clean flowing water, working sewer pipes, excellent medical treatment, and rising technology, now has fallen to the ground. The civilians are used to the fact that power is randomly available. In one case, a small neighborhood had power running from a generator, but it was stolen by U.S. troops saying it could be a code-red threat (Cooper). Clean water is not accessible, and many of the Iraqi citizens know that the water they are drinking could have a chance of black water in it. They are also are aware that puddles in the streets are from the overflowing sewers. Once again, the war has let loose another form of fury.

War kills the economy, the people who help build it, and the resources that help support it. The military estimates that they will need $12-13 billion dollars per year for the war in Iraq. That’s for repairs, replacements, and new technology. There’s an experimental robotic soldier which would not require to eat or sleep, or have clothing, training, or motivation, causing a more effective 24-hour killing machine. One of these robots would cost $200,000 (BBC News). Money is needed in a war, but where is it coming from? America’s total debt in all sectors is already more than $44 trillion dollars and rising. That means, each person in American owes at least $147,321 (Hodges). The Bush administration still says it needs more money for the Iraq war, $70 billion more to be exact, driving the country more into debt (George).

It takes less time to kill life than to give birth to it. And in killing a life, that life had memories, friends, and family who will not forget. It takes more time to rebuild buildings than to destroy them, and although repairing the damage done can be good for the people, it wasn’t worth being destroyed in the first place. Debt isn’t lowering but rising. Money is being spent on weapons, people, food, and supplies for the purpose of killing. War is letting loose more hell, more death, more destruction. War isn’t peaceful, it’s a violent, sickening, brutal way of ending something without thinking more about being diplomatic. History repeats itself. Maybe it’s time to learn from it and blossom in new steps.

Works Consulted

BBC News. “US plans ‘robot troops’ for Iraq.” Jan. 23, 2005.

Cooper, Anderson. 360. CNN, March 2006.

George, Liz. “Rebuilding Iraq: What will it cost?” Dec. 10, 2003, CNN.

Hodges, Michael. “America’s Total Debt Report.” June 2006.

Jamail, Dahr, and Harb al-Mukhtar. “Hospitals Come Under Siege.” Nov. 29, 2005, IPS.

Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam. The Viking Press, New York, 1983.

Kolko, Gabriel. Century of War. The New Press, New York, 1994.

Kolko, Gabriel. Another Century of War? The New Press, New York, 2002.

Kuper, Leo. Genocide. Yale University Press, London, 1981.

Merzaban, Daliah. “UN and donors prepare road map for rebuilding Iraq.” Sept. 10, 2006.

Quest, Richard. “What will happen to Iraq’s debt?” April 18, 2003.

Weisman, Jonathan, and Thomas E. Ricks. “Increase in War Funding Sought.” Oct. 26, 2004, Washington Post. “Iraq death toll in third year of occupation is highest yet.” March 9, 2006.