WASHINGTON – Much discussion lately has been centered on the expenses a war with Iraq will incur, but some analysts are pointing out that the cost of not making war may be greater than the cost of a conflict.
Some estimates have put the cost of war beyond $100 billion, causing groans from anti-war lawmakers.
With Saddam Hussein building and hiding weapons, President Bush repeated to members of a conservative think tank last week a theory he frequently paraphrases.
"This same tyrant has close ties to terrorist organizations and could supply them with the terrible means to strike this country," the president said.
The Brookings Institution said the number of lives lost in another attack on the United States could be phenomenal.
Their recent study shows that as many as 10,000 people could perish in a successful attack on a U.S. chemical or nuclear power plant; a nuclear bomb detonated in a major U.S. city could claim the lives of 100,000 people.
The study also contends that a biological attack against a U.S. city could cause $750 billion in economic damage; attacks against malls or movie theaters could cost the economy $250 billion and if weapons of mass destruction were used against the shipping industry, the economy could take a $1 trillion hit.
Cleaning up just two ounces of anthrax in the House and Senate office buildings more than a year ago cost American taxpayers $42 million.
U.S. consumer confidence is now at a 10-year low. However, if Saddam remains in power, the economy may sag much longer, say market analysts.
"If this isn't resolved, if things are still up in the air in terms of weapons of mass destruction, I think that would cast a cloud over the stock market and over the U.S. economy," said Greg Valiere of Schwab Washington Research.
Some fear an unrestrained Saddam Hussein might get big ideas and that could mean trouble for the United States, particularly as the Bush administration struggles with a new energy policy.
"He would most likely try to interject himself into the free flow of oil. He would be a threat to Saudi Arabia, he would be a threat to Kuwait, he would be a threat to Jordan. He is bent on regional domination," said Peter Brooks of the Heritage Foundation.
Not only that, Brooks said Saddam may try to wipe out the Kurd and Shiite minorities in his country. By some estimates he has already killed 1 million of his own citizens, leaving some to say that it's impossible to put a value on life.
Fox News' Brian Wilson contributed to this report.