Ten Reasons the Iraq War Was No Cakewalk
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March 19 marks the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a nation that had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in the 9/11 attacks. It was sold to the American public as a war to defend our nation and free the Iraqi people. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said our soldiers would be greeted as liberators and that Iraqi oil money would pay for the reconstruction. Vice President Dick Cheney said the military effort would take “weeks rather than months.” And Defense Secretary Assistant Ken Adelman predicted that “liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.”
Eight years on, it’s time to look back at that “cakewalk.”
1. 4,400 U.S. Soldiers Lost for a Lie
More than 4,400 Americans have died as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq – more than were killed on 9/11. Over 32,000 U.S. soldiers have been seriously wounded, many kept alive only thanks to the miracle of modern medicine.
But those numbers don't tell the half of it. Stanford University and Naval Postgraduate School researchers who examined the delayed onset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) found that, by 2023, the rate of PTSD among Iraq war veterans could rise as high as 35 percent. And for the second year in row, more soldiers committed suicide in 2010 than died in combat, a tragic but predictable human reaction to being asked to kill – and watch your friends be killed – for a war based on lies.
2. Bankrupting Our Nation
In 2008, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University's Linda Blimes put the cost of the Iraq war at roughly $3 trillion, or about 60 times what the Bush administration first said the invasion would cost. But while a staggering figure, Stiglitz and Blimes now say that their estimate “was, if anything, too low.” In an update published last fall in The Washington Post , they note that the war not only drove up the federal debt, but helped drive the skyrocketing oil prices that contributed to the crashing of the global economy.
According to the National Priorities Project , the money the U.S. government spent destroying Iraq could have provided yearly salaries for 12.5 million teachers or paid the annual healthcare costs for 167 million Americans. When elected officials tell us our nation is bankrupt, we should tell them to bring our war dollars home .
3. Hundreds of Thousands of Iraqi Dead
The ones who have suffered the most from the Iraq “cakewalk,” of course, are the Iraqis themselves. For an invasion sold as an act of liberation and “ profound morality ” by propagandists like Jeffrey Goldberg, the U.S. and its allies sure managed to kill a staggering number of those they were liberating. The group Iraq Body Count (IBC) has documented at least 99,900 violent civilian deaths as a direct result of the U.S.-led invasion. But that's an extremely conservative estimate based largely off deaths reported in Western media, an approach bound to undercount the massive death toll from the invasion. Indeed, as WikiLeaks revealed last October, the U.S. government covered up the violent killings of more than 15,000 Iraqi civilians – killings that weren't reported by any Western paper – or roughly 20 percent of IBC's official count at the time.
Unfortunately, the number of Iraqi souls liberated from their bodies is likely a lot higher than IBC's count. A 2006 study by researchers at John Hopkins University published in the Lancet medical journal found that in just over three years there had been 654,965 “excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war,” with Iraq's death rate more than doubling due to gunfire – the leading cause of mortality – and a lack of medicine and clean water. A January 2008 analysis by British polling firm Opinion Research Business, meanwhile, estimated “that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003.”