Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Iraq War: Ten Years Later

 Flag-draped coffins in Dover, DE (New York Times)

Ten years ago this week, the war in Iraq was launched in spite of some of the largest worldwide protests in history. I don't really have any new insight into the still-baffling decision to go to war with such a high-risk/low-reward outcome. It was the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. Period.

Combat operations finally ended (for realsies) in 2010, seven-plus years after President Bush declared major combat operations over ("Mission Accomplished!"). Looking back, it's still hard to believe it was ever allowed to happen. But thanks to an aggressive public campaign by the Bush Administration, along with the combination of a compliant, enabling media (and the cheerleading Conservative media complex driving the news coverage) and an apathetic populace far removed from the the consequences of decisions about war these days, it ultimately was sold and carried out much more easily than it should have been.

Anyway, here are some numbers to consider (all figures based on latest data as of 2011-2012):

Total costs of the was as of 2013: $2.2T

Total future costs of the war (including estimated post-war costs for veterans' health care, benefits, and interest on the debt): $3T to $4T.

Total casualties:
- at least 4,487 US combat casualties
- at least 32,223 US soldiers seriously wounded
- at least 318 coalition forces casualties
- at least 1,487 contractor casualties

And per the IBC (Iraq Body Count project):
- approximately 110,000-120,000 Iraqi civilian casualties
- approximately 70,000-100,000 Iraqi combatant casualties
- at least 42,500 Iraqi civilian injuries

Other features of the war:
- No WMD were ever found
- strengthened Iran's position in the region
- caused more instability in the region
- took attention and resources away from the war in Afghanistan and the Pakistan border
- harmed America's reputation in the world and strained relationships with European allies.

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