Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’
Posted on January 1, 2013 at 11.32 am
I’m researching some of the costs of America’s wars since 2001 for a work project today. Most of this I’ve read about before — it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with most of the data. But all put together, it’s pretty heart-breaking. Here’s a sampling:
- $6 trillion+: The final costs of Iraq and Afghanistan
- $16 trillion: The national debt
- $720 million: The price of one day at war in Iraq
- $300 million: One day of war in Afghanistan
- $132 billion and growing: Annual Dep’t of Veterans Affairs budget
- $50 billion: What we were told Iraq would cost
- Warrantless wiretapping
- Indefinite detention
- 1.7 billion of our emails read daily
- Suppression of free speech
- TSA security theater
- Assassination of Americans
- 1 million+ excess deaths in Iraq
- 7.8 million+ refugees in Iraq
- 6,518 American soldiers dead in Iraq and Afgh.
- 16,495 total U.S. military deaths 2001-2010
- 48,430 Americans wounded in Iraq and Afgh.
- 1,655 military amputations from battle
- 300,000 veterans have PTSD
- 50 civilians killed for every one terrorist
The constant posture of attack our foreign policy takes today simply doesn’t work, and its price is high in dollars, freedom, and lives. If we want a safer and saner America, it’s time to end the wars.
Posted on March 20, 2012 at 4.10 pm
On this ninth Iraqiversary, it seems important to pause a moment to take a look at the past, present, and future of this most notorious quagmire.
When we invaded Iraq in 2003, I was 15 and vaguely supportive of the war out of a naive assumption that if they said we had to bomb Iraq to keep from being nuked, then bomb Iraq we must. Nine years later it is uncomfortably obvious (and indeed has been for quite a while) that I — and quite a few other people at the time who lacked the plea of youthful error — was wrong: ”The most popular argument to support the Iraq war in 2003 was the one about Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)….All of it turned out to be lies. Iraq didn’t possess a single WMD. Far from being a military threat to the West, the country quickly collapsed in the face of invading forces.”
As it soon became clear that WMDs were nowhere to be found, the ostensible mission switched to “spreading democracy” — Saddam was a bad, bad man, and we must kill him. A bad man he was, and kill him we did, but at what cost?
Madeleine Albright may have thought that killing 500,000 Iraqi children (let alone adults) through sanctions in the 1990s was “worth it” to bend the erstwhile Mesopotamia to our will, but I can’t agree. I especially can’t agree in regards to the additional 600,000 to 1 million (or more) excess civilian deaths caused by the war following our 2003 invasion. Proportionally, this is analogous to killing everyone in Texas or California. If this is what it takes to spread democracy, can anyone honestly claim spreading democracy is a worthy cause?
With the inauguration of President Obama, we were promised a new, less militaristic foreign policy. Candidate Obama successfully conned millions into accepting him as the “peace candidate” of 2008, and if he was not already an undercover warmonger at the time of his election as I suspect, once in office he quickly proved Acton’s adage about the corruption power brings. I’m not sure which is worse.
Come December 2011, Obama took the stage at Fort Bragg in North Carolina to declare the war’s end, saying “the final work of leaving Iraq has been done.” While the specifics claimed in his speech may have been technically correct, the claim that the war was over could not have been farther from the truth: “How can the war [in Iraq] be over when Americans who just don’t happen to be wearing uniforms are over there by the thousands, and get killed right now, and we’re sending $3.5 billion over there? That’s not over. That’s not over by any stretch of the imagination.”
Meanwhile, with this faux ending of the war allowing most Americans to mentally check this war off our lists, the war machine is ramping up again as Washington hawks salivate for a swipe at Iran. Not only would this be a sad repetition of our past mistakes in Iraq and unquestionably far bloodier and more costly than those pushing for war attest, but it is without doubt not a step toward progress or peace in the Middle East.
Consider the death tolls and destruction in Iraq — and the extensive violence and unrest which continues to be a regular occurrence. Consider that our involvement in Iraq has actually expanded Iran’s influence there, and that an attack on Iran would likely produce the same effect with other unsavory states in the region. Consider that, like Iraq, Iran has not actually attacked us, and that the vast majority of its people do not want anyone in their region to have nuclear weapons. Then consider that it is those people, unable to control their tyrannical government, who are certain to suffer most should we let our itchy trigger finger slip again.
Nine years from now, it would (sadly) not surprise me if the US were still in some way intertwined in Iraqi internal affairs. But at least let us not also mark an Iraniversary.
Posted on March 1, 2012 at 3.41 pm
The New York Times reports:
American officials who have assessed the likely Iranian responses to any attack by Israel on its nuclear program believe that Iran would retaliate by launching missiles on Israel and terrorist-style attacks on United States civilian and military personnel overseas.
Wait…why is this deserving of a news article? Yeah, when nations are attacked, it is generally the case that they respond in kind.
But let’s — for the sake of argument, at least — take this triumph of journalism seriously: If Israel attacks Iran and the U.S. follows her into war, certainly Iran is unlikely to simply submit. This would probably lead to yet another long war, costly in terms of both blood and treasure. Iran is, after all, quite a bit bigger both geographically and demographically than Iraq, and look how long we spent there.
But what sort of response would Iran actually be capable of? The New York Times piece with which I began this post makes it sound pretty significant — and scary. ”So clearly we need to make our military even bigger just in case, AMIRITE YOU GUYS?!” said the Pentagon on Monday. (Note: The Pentagon did not actually say that. I made it up.)
But this scary picture may not actually be accurate:
Iran, in spite of its 71 million population and oil wealth, is militarily quite weak. Islamic Iran has been under punishing US-led military and economic sanctions since its 1979 revolution, joining other sanctions targets North Korea and Cuba.
As a result, Iran has been unable to modernize most of its 1960’s/1970’s vintage military arsenal, much of which was supplied by the US and Britain to the Shah. Iran’s decrepit civilian aircraft fleet has also been punished by US-led embargos, resulting in numerous crashes due to worn-out equipment and lack of spare parts.
Iran’s claim last week that it might launch pre-emptive attacks on potential attackers is not credible.
So here’s what we have:
- Iran is a big country compared to our recent invasions, with a large population and a much more stable government than, for instance, circa 2001 Afghanistan or circa 2011 Libya. They will, as the NYT so thoughtfully pointed out, defend themselves. This will not be an easy war (if indeed there is such a thing).
- American intelligence analysts “continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb” — in fact, that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weaponry is “ the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.”
- If we do attack for this non-reason, our opponents will be severely outmatched in terms of official military apparatus. This will likely make them guerrillas and will certainly make us bullies.
- We’re allied with the country whose current idea it is to starve the Iranian populace into pressuring their leaders to stop a nuclear weapons program which doesn’t exist. And I didn’t make that up.
Why again is war with Iran a good idea?