Costs of Illegal Iraq Invasion Still Mounting

What was the reason?

As we near the tenth anniversary of the USA’s illegal invasion of Iraq, we still haven’t been told a credible reason why it happened. However, a new report by the “Costs of War” project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies totals up the costs of America’s dumbest war.

Among the group’s main findings:

  • More than 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence in Iraq have been civilians — an estimated 134,000. This number does not account for indirect deaths due to increased vulnerability to disease or injury as a result of war-degraded conditions. That number is estimated to be several times higher.
  • The Iraq War will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion. Because the Iraq war appropriations were funded by borrowing, cumulative interest through 2053 could amount to more than $3.9 trillion.
  • The $2.2 trillion figure includes care for veterans who were injured in the war in Iraq, which will cost the United States almost $500 billion through 2053.
  • The total of U.S. service members killed in Iraq is 4,488. At least 3,400 U.S. contractors have died as well, a number often under-reported.
  • Terrorism in Iraq increased dramatically as a result of the invasion and tactics and fighters were exported to Syria and other neighboring countries.
  • Iraq’s health care infrastructure remains devastated from sanctions and war. More than half of Iraq’s medical doctors left the country during the 2000s, and tens of thousands of Iraqi patients are forced to seek health care outside the country.
  • The $60 billion spent on reconstruction for Iraq has not gone to rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, health care, and water treatment systems, but primarily to the military and police. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has found massive fraud, waste, and abuse of reconstruction funds.

NOW they tell us we need to cut Social Security and Medicare because we cannot afford such extravagances.

More info:
Study: Iraq War Cost U.S. $2.2 Trillion, Claimed Nearly 200,000 Lives
Iraq War Cost U.S. More Than $2 Trillion, Could Grow to $6 Trillion, Says Watson Institute Study
Study: Iraq War Cost More Than $2 Trillion, Killed At Least 134,000 Civilians

UPDATE: Nobody in authority has ever credibly explained why the U.S. invaded Iraq. John Tirman offers his take:

In my view, the Bush regime’s motives were instead about getting rid of Saddam, transforming the Middle East, protecting Israel, and guaranteeing access to oil.


UPDATE:
Aaron Belkin adds another possible reason for invading Iraq:

[Karl Rove] anticipated, correctly, that the war would divide the Democrats down the middle, and that the division would benefit the Bush administration politically. An appreciation of the administration’s political motivations deepens our understanding of why the debate over whether to go to war was so dishonest, in that senior officials’ accurate anticipation of a political windfall reinforced their insensitivity to evidence about risks and costs. The decision for war, in other words, was deeply political and deeply cynical. Explanations of the war that overlook the political dimension are incomplete.

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on March 15, 2013 - 6:18 pm

    Cheney says he do it again “in a minute”. Bush doesn’t give a shit either way.

    It doesn’t surprise me that all the money is going to the military and the police. How else can you be safe when your infrastructure is in ruins.

    I wonder if it’s true that some in Bush’s administration thought they were going to use Iraq a as model of free market principles?

    The Dixie Chicks knew it was a bad idea.

  2. #2 by Richard Warnick on March 15, 2013 - 7:32 pm

    There’s that amazing story where VP Cheney and General Tommy Franks showed the Iraq invasion plans to the Saudi ambassador, and mentioned that President Bush hadn’t been told yet. :-o

  3. #3 by Larry Bergan on March 15, 2013 - 8:15 pm

    Actually, Bush did, reportedly, stand up for principal a couple of times, but he probably got told to zip it. It wasn’t widely reported and I can’t remember any details.

  4. #4 by Larry Bergan on March 15, 2013 - 8:22 pm

    Michael Moore’s film, “Capitalism: a Love Story”, has a great clip showing Donald Regan standing next to Ronald Reagan during a speech and leaning over to the president, telling him to speed it up.

  5. #5 by Richard Warnick on March 18, 2013 - 10:43 am

    UPDATE: Nobody in authority has ever credibly explained why the U.S. invaded Iraq. John Tirman offers his take:

    In my view, the Bush regime’s motives were instead about getting rid of Saddam, transforming the Middle East, protecting Israel, and guaranteeing access to oil.

  6. #6 by Richard Warnick on March 18, 2013 - 10:57 am

    UPDATE: Aaron Belkin adds another possible reason for invading Iraq:

    [Karl Rove] anticipated, correctly, that the war would divide the Democrats down the middle, and that the division would benefit the Bush administration politically. An appreciation of the administration’s political motivations deepens our understanding of why the debate over whether to go to war was so dishonest, in that senior officials’ accurate anticipation of a political windfall reinforced their insensitivity to evidence about risks and costs. The decision for war, in other words, was deeply political and deeply cynical. Explanations of the war that overlook the political dimension are incomplete.

  7. #7 by brewski on March 18, 2013 - 11:02 am

    Why don’t we just quote Hillary:

    “What difference does it make?”

  8. #8 by cav on March 18, 2013 - 11:27 am

    Authority in this case being those with the resources (media and ‘supreme’ court vote count) to propagate the “Big Lie’.

    “I was less impressed by Chalabi than were some others in the Bush administration. However, since one of those ‘others’ was Vice President Cheney, it didn’t matter what I thought. In 2002, Chalabi joined the annual summer retreat of the American Enterprise Institute near Vail, Colorado. He and Cheney spent long hours together, contemplating the possibilities of a Western-oriented Iraq: an additional source of oil, an alternative to US dependency on an unstable-looking Saudi Arabia.”

    Wars rarely have one clear and singular purpose, and the Iraq War in particular was driven by different agendas prioritized by different factions. To say it was fought exclusively due to oil is a clear oversimplification. But the fact that oil is a major factor in every Western military action in the Middle East is so self-evident and obvious that it’s astonishing that it’s even considered debatable, let alone some fringe and edgy idea.

    Duncan Black at http://www.eschatonblog.com/

  9. #9 by Richard Warnick on March 18, 2013 - 11:32 am

    And brewski weighs in with another un-sourced quote. Most likely out of context.

  10. #10 by Richard Warnick on March 18, 2013 - 11:35 am

    Secretary of State Clinton, testifying about Benghazi:

    “With all due respect, the fact is we have four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans,” Clinton shouted during the hearing. “What difference at this point does it make?”

    She was not talking about Iraq at all. But it’s very ironic that the right-wing Republicans self-righteously demanded investigations of a foreign policy mishap in Libya that cost the lives of four Americans, when they themselves are responsible for MUCH BIGGER foreign policy fiascoes with the 9/11 attacks and the illegal invasion of Iraq. For the record, the Obama administration initiated an immediate investigation of the Benghazi incident.

  11. #11 by brewski on March 18, 2013 - 12:34 pm

    “Obama administration initiated an immediate investigation”
    In other words, killed the story until after the election. Old political trick when you want to look like you’re doing something while not actually doing anything.

  12. #12 by Richard Warnick on March 18, 2013 - 12:52 pm

    Compare to the Bush administration, which refused to take any blame, resisted attempts to investigate the 9/11 attacks, and didn’t fully cooperate with the 9/11 Commission.

  13. #13 by brewski on March 18, 2013 - 1:00 pm

    If Hillary is right “What difference at this point does it make?” then why would we bother with an investigation?

  14. #14 by cav on March 18, 2013 - 2:40 pm

    Any remaining objections I had to Hillary vanished during the Benghazi hearings.

    When she responded to either Rand Paul or Cruz or one of those idiots by taking a perfect comic pause before she said….

    “Turkey?”

    So, exactly what difference does it make – when, the party of NO can’t even get the countries right?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnhuHO68I8Y

  15. #15 by brewski on March 18, 2013 - 4:07 pm

    It makes a big difference to the dead people and their families when their President and Secretary of State did nothing while they were being killed. It’s pretty simple. State screwed up. The White House tried to bury the story before the election. That’s it.

  16. #16 by Richard Warnick on March 18, 2013 - 4:40 pm

    And the Republicans like Utah’s own Rep. Jason Chaffetz who cut the diplomatic security budget bear no responsibility? Secretary of State Clinton warned them ahead of time that the cuts (originally $331 million in FY2012, reduced to $243 million) would be “detrimental to America’s national security.”

  17. #17 by cav on March 18, 2013 - 5:10 pm

    4 out of millions… statistically insignificant. Take it Up with God if he’s not too busy sorting them all out.

    Still Dick Cheney lives on.

  18. #18 by brewski on March 18, 2013 - 8:55 pm

    Nice dodge.

  19. #19 by cav on March 19, 2013 - 9:04 am

    I guess I should note, on this anniversary of our latest treachery in Iraq, that Hillary WAS on board with Bush and Cheney’s little cake-walk.

    When all of the players / choices presented to us are BAD, it doesn’t make the ‘least bad’ GOOD. Just saying.

  20. #20 by cav on March 19, 2013 - 9:24 am

    Ironically, if she had done what was right and voted against it, Obama’s greatest advantage over her in the primary would have been eliminated.

  21. #21 by cav on March 19, 2013 - 9:36 am

    The ‘successful’ manipulation of ‘intelligence’ to fear monger this murderous travesty into being, providing jobs for ‘Oil Field Services’ and the MIC, suggested none of the war criminals had anything but certainty they’d never be shown for what they are.

  22. #22 by Richard Warnick on March 19, 2013 - 9:41 am

    And there’s a certain amount of irony that having gotten Iraq right, Barack Obama beat all other contenders for the privilege of managing our neocon foreign policy in an incrementally more intelligent way.

    Of course, it would be hard to do it dumber than the Bush administration. They set the all-time standard for boneheadedness.

    • #23 by Glenden Brown on March 19, 2013 - 10:01 am

      Richard,

      I read an article this morning talking about the ten year anniversary and the author observed that illogic has a force of its own that carries it forward. As I read that I thought US foreign policy was so badly distorted by the Bush Administration that there’s no sane way out. The Obama administration has made some terrible choices but they’re choosing from a series of bad options. There’s no good choice. Illogic has a force of its own.

      • #24 by Richard Warnick on March 19, 2013 - 10:05 am

        I suppose it would have been too much to expect the Obama administration in 2009 to hand over the war criminals to international justice, prosecute the torturers, and fast-track the withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

        But why not close Guantanamo? Why the ramp up the drone campaign with “signature strikes” against unknown people who may or may not be enemies?

        • #25 by Glenden Brown on March 19, 2013 - 10:17 am

          Excellent questions all.

          My take is simple. The Obama folks made a huge miscalculation – they thought if they simply “moved forward” things would be better. They believed that trying to examine what happened in Bush’s disastrous presidency would be more contentious and controversial than not. At the end of the day, if the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress had started 2009 with two major initiatives – fix the economy and create and hold public hearings for a truth and reconciliation commission we’d all be better off. Having missed that opportunity to reject the logic of the Bush admininstration, they were trapped in the momentum of Bush’s bad decisions. We never publicly or honestly discussed Guantanamo or why people are there. We never publicy discussed our national madness in 2002 and 2003. We gave 9/11 over to the jingoists and liars. They fucked up for good reasons but they fucked up.

  23. #26 by brewski on March 19, 2013 - 10:05 am

    “Obama’s greatest advantage over her in the primary would have been eliminated.”

    Obama’s greatest advantage is that he had no record at all. He hadn’t done anything or voted on anything of consequence. Oh wait, he voted not to increase the debt limit.

    Hillary for that matter hadn’t done much either. First lady? Carpetbagger NY senator? Filed fraudulent SBA loan applications?

  24. #27 by brewski on March 19, 2013 - 10:08 am

    “managing our neocon foreign policy in an incrementally more intelligent way.”
    1. Exiting Iraq on W’s timetable and not the one he ran on.
    3. Tripling the number of troops in Afghanistan
    4. Executing US citizens without due process

    • #28 by Richard Warnick on March 19, 2013 - 10:11 am

      Worse, the Obama administration attempted to get Maliki to scrap the timetable the U.S. had already agreed to so we could keep troops in Iraq longer. But still our foreign policy is smarter than when the Bushies were in charge.

  25. #29 by brewski on March 19, 2013 - 10:09 am

    ” and fast-track the withdrawal from Iraq”
    It is what he ran on.

    • #30 by Richard Warnick on March 19, 2013 - 10:20 am

      I give the Obama campaign partial credit for the Iraq withdrawal deal in 2008. Bush only agreed to it because Maliki knew he might get a better deal from Obama.

  26. #31 by cav on March 19, 2013 - 10:38 am

    “…trapped in the momentum of Bush’s bad decisions.”

    Glenden

    And that bull had more than the normal number of very dangerous horns on which to grab – Hell of a scary, momentous monster those PNAC / AEI boyz created! Gotta give em credit for that.

    I think I’ll just go with Health Care for $500 Alex.

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