The cost of the Iraq war and a lesson in the failure of ‘nation building’
by Bob Livingston
On March 19, 2003, U.S. and coalition military forces began a military bombardment of Iraq to “disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger,” President George W. Bush said in a televised address shortly after the military operation began.
Twelve years later, and the U.S. is now arming Iraq to help it defend itself against ISIS. Its people are becoming enslaved — or worse — by murderous jihadists who were armed, trained, funded and granted a staging point by the U.S., its allies and its foreign policy decisions. And we are told there is still a “grave danger” from terrorists who want to kill us.
One year ago, a study reported on by Reuters put the cost of the Iraq war at $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans. These expenses could top $6 trillion within 40 years.
Beyond the economic cost of the war is the even worse human cost. The Department of Defense claims 4,425 U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war and 31,949 wounded. The war has killed 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqis in total.
After 24 years of war on Iraq (the original Persian Gulf War never really ended, with U.S. troops stationed in the region continuously since and years of overflights by U.S. planes), the Middle East is in greater turmoil than ever. We have in America now a security apparatus that is quashing liberty like never before.
Oh, and those “weapons of mass destruction” that the Bush regime warned us about: Saddam Hussein was a CIA asset and his ties to that agency went as far back as 1959. U.S. State Department documents declassified several years ago showed that former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld used his ties to U.S. pharmaceutical firms and helped arrange for millions of dollars in loans to help Saddam buy chemical weapons in the 1980s, and the then-CIA Director William Casey used a Chilean front company to provide Iraq with cluster bombs. Later, the CIA provided intelligence to allow Saddam to use those weapons (including the chemical weapons) on Iranian troops in order to ensure Iraq’s victory over — or at least make sure it didn’t lose to — Iran.
That Iraq possessed chemical weapons was certainly no surprise to the Bush regime, so claims that weapons of mass destruction were indeed found in Iraq are specious attempts at making history fit the Bush narrative.
No nuclear weapons were ever found. In fact, U.N. weapons inspectors repeatedly said Iraq had no nuclear weapons program; and former Secretary of State Colin Powell later admitted he knowingly gave false testimony to the U.N. Security Council regarding Iraq’s nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Iraq remains a failed state rocked with sectarian violence; the U.S. puppet regime failed and was proven corrupt and replaced by another; the Iraqi military that had been trained for years by U.S. troops turned tail and fled in the face of ISIS, leaving billions of dollars of U.S. military equipment and weapons behind; and U.S. troops are gradually being sent back into the region to protect U.S. interests.
If that’s what the regime considers success, I’d hate to see failure.