[Homestead] Asia Times, true cost of Iraq War
tvoivozd at infionline.net
Fri Oct 1 18:37:42 EDT 2004
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*The costs of the failed Iraqi transition *
(Posted with permission from Foreign Policy in Focus <http://www.fpif.org>)
"A Failed Transition" is the most comprehensive accounting of the
mounting costs of the Iraq war on the United States, Iraq and the world.
Among its major findings are stark figures about the escalation of costs
in these most recent three months of "transition" to Iraqi rule, a
period that the Bush administration claimed would be characterized by
falling human and economic costs.
/*1. US military casualties have been highest during the "transition":*/
US military casualties (wounded and killed) stand at a monthly average
of 747 since the so-called "transition" to Iraqi rule on June 29. This
contrasts with a monthly average of 482 US military casualties during
the invasion (March 20-May 1, 2003) and a monthly average of 415 during
the occupation (May 2, 2003-June 28, 2004).
/*2. Non-Iraqi contractor deaths have also been highest during the
"transition": */There has also been a huge increase in the average
monthly deaths of US and other non-Iraqi contractors since the
"transition". On average, 17.5 contractors have died each month since
the "transition", versus 7.6 contractor deaths per month during the
previous 14 months of occupation.
/*3. Estimated strength of Iraqi resistance skyrockets: */Because the US
military occupation remains in place, the "transition" has failed to win
Iraqi support or diminish Iraqi resistance to the occupation. According
to Pentagon estimates, the number of Iraqi resistance fighters has
quadrupled between November of 2003 and early September 2004, from 5,000
to 20,000. The deputy commander of coalition forces in Iraq, British
Major-General Andrew Graham, indicated to Time magazine in early
September that he thinks the 20,000 estimate is too low; he estimates
Iraqi resistance strength at 40,000-50,000. This rise is even starker
when juxtaposed to Brookings Institution estimates that an additional
24,000 Iraqi resistance fighters have been detained or killed between
May 2003 and August 2004.
/*4. US-led coalition shrinks further after "transition": */The number
of countries identified as members of the coalition backing the US-led
war started with 30 on March 18, 2003, then grew in the early months of
the war. Since then, eight countries have withdrawn their troops and
Costa Rica has demanded to be taken off the coalition list. At the war's
start, coalition countries represented 19.1% of the world's population;
today, the remaining countries with forces in Iraq represent only 13.6%
of the world's population.
*I. Costs to the United States*
/*A. Human costs to the US and allies*/
/US military deaths: /Between the start of war on March 19, 2003 and
September 22, 2004, 1,175 coalition forces were killed, including 1,040
US military. Of the total, 925 were killed after President George W Bush
declared the end of combat operations on May 1, 2003. Over 7,413 US
troops have been wounded since the war began, 6,953 (94%) since May 1,
/Contractor deaths:/ As of September 22, there has been an estimated 154
civilian contractors, missionaries and civilian worker deaths since May
1, 2004. Of these, 52 have been identified as Americans.
/Journalist deaths:/ Forty-four international media workers have been
killed in Iraq as of September 22, including 33 since Bush declared the
end of combat operations. Eight of the dead worked for US companies.
/*B. Security costs */
/Terrorist recruitment and action:/ According to the London-based
International Institute for Strategic Studies, al-Qaeda's membership is
now at 18,000, with 1,000 active in Iraq. The State Department's 2003
"Patterns of Global Terrorism" documented 625 deaths and 3,646 injuries
due to terrorist attacks in 2003. The report acknowledged that
"significant incidents" increased from 60% of total attacks in 2002 to
84% in 2003.
/Low US credibility: /Polls reveal that the war has damaged the US
government's standing and credibility in the world. Surveys in eight
European and Arab countries demonstrated broad public agreement that the
war has hurt, rather than helped, the "war on terrorism". At home, 52%
of Americans polled by the Annenberg Election Survey disapprove of
Bush's handling of Iraq.
/Military mistakes:/ A number of former military officials have
criticized the war, including retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, who
has charged that by manufacturing a false rationale for war, abandoning
traditional allies, propping up and trusting Iraqi exiles, and failing
to plan for post-war Iraq, the Bush administration made the US less secure.
/Low troop morale and lack of equipment:/ A March 2004 army survey found
52% of soldiers reporting low morale, and three-fourths reporting they
were poorly led by their officers. Lack of equipment has been an ongoing
problem. The army did not fully equip soldiers with bullet-proof vests
until June 2004, forcing many families to purchase them out of their own
/Loss of first responders:/ National Guard troops make up almost
one-third of the US Army troops now in Iraq. Their deployment puts a
particularly heavy burden on their home communities because many are
"first responders", including police, firefighters and emergency medical
personnel. For example, 44% of the country's police forces have lost
officers to Iraq. In some states, the absence of so many Guard troops
has raised concerns about the ability to handle natural disasters.
/Use of private contractors:/ An estimated 20,000 private contractors
are carrying out work in Iraq traditionally done by the military,
despite the fact that they often lack sufficient training and are not
accountable to the same guidelines and reviews as military personnel.
/*C. Economic costs*/
/The bill so far:/ Congress has approved $151.1 billion for Iraq.
Congressional leaders anticipate an additional supplemental
appropriation of $60 billion after the election in November.
/Long-term impact on US economy:/ Economist Doug Henwood has estimated
that the war bill will add up to an average of at least $3,415 for every
US household. Another economist, James Galbraith of the University of
Texas, predicts that while war spending may boost the economy initially,
over the long term it is likely to bring a decade of economic troubles,
including an expanded trade deficit and high inflation.
/Oil prices:/ US crude oil prices spiked at $48 per barrel on August 19,
the highest level since 1983, a development that most analysts attribute
at least in part to the deteriorating situation in Iraq. According to a
mid-May CBS survey, 85% of Americans said they had been affected
measurably by higher gas prices. According to one estimate, if crude oil
prices stay around $40 a barrel for a year, US gross domestic product
will decline by more than $50 billion.
/Economic impact on military families:/ Since the beginning of the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan, 364,000 reserve troops and National Guard
soldiers have been called for military service, serving tours of duty
that often last 20 months. Studies show that between 30% and 40% of
reservists and National Guard members earn a lower salary when they
leave civilian employment for military deployment. Army Emergency Relief
has reported that requests from military families for food stamps and
subsidized meals increased "several hundred percent" between 2002 and 2003.
/*D. Social costs */
/US budget and social programs: /The Bush administration's combination
of massive spending on the war and tax cuts for the wealthy means less
money for social spending. The $151.1 billion expenditure for the war
through this year could have paid for: close to 23 million housing
vouchers; health care for over 27 million uninsured Americans; salaries
for nearly 3 million elementary school teachers; 678,200 new fire
engines; over 20 million Head Start slots for children; or health care
coverage for 82 million children. A leaked memo from the White House to
domestic agencies outlines major cuts following the election, including
funding for education, Head Start, home ownership, job training, medical
research and homeland security.
/Social costs to the military:/ To meet troop requirements in Iraq, the
army has extended the tours of duty for soldiers. These extensions have
been particularly difficult for reservists, many of whom never expected
to face such long separations from their jobs and families. According to
military policy, reservists are not supposed to be on assignment for
more than 12 months every five-six years. To date, the average tour of
duty for all soldiers in Iraq has been 320 days. A recent army survey
revealed that more than half of soldiers said they would not re-enlist.
/Costs to veteran health care:/ About 64% of the more than 7,000 US
soldiers injured in Iraq received wounds that prevented them from
returning to duty. One trend has been an increase in amputees, the
result of improved body armor that protects vital organs but not
extremities. As in previous wars, many soldiers are likely to have
received ailments that will not be detected for years to come. The
Veterans Administration healthcare system is not prepared for the
swelling number of claims. In May, the House of Representatives approved
funding for FY 2005 that is $2.6 billion less than needed, according to
/Mental health costs: /The New England Journal of Medicine reported in
July that one in six soldiers returning from war in Iraq showed signs of
post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, or severe anxiety.
Only 23% to 40% of respondents in the study who showed signs of a mental
disorder had sought mental health care.
*II. Costs to Iraq*
/*A. Human costs*/
/Iraqi deaths and injuries: /As of September 22, between 12,800 and
14,843 Iraqi civilians had been killed as a result of the US invasion
and ensuing occupation, while an estimated 40,000 Iraqis injured. During
"major combat" operations, between 4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers and
insurgents were killed.
/Effects of depleted uranium (DU): /The health impacts of the use of
depleted uranium weaponry in Iraq are yet to be known. The Pentagon
estimates that US and British forces used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of
weaponry made from the toxic and radioactive metal during the March 2003
bombing campaign. Many scientists blame the far smaller amount of DU
weapons used in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 for illnesses among US
soldiers, as well as a sevenfold increase in child birth defects in
Basra in southern Iraq.
*B. Security costs *
/Rise in crime:/ Murder, rape and kidnapping have skyrocketed since
March 2003, forcing Iraqi children to stay home from school and women to
stay off the streets at night. Violent deaths rose from an average of 14
per month in 2002 to 357 per month in 2003.
/Psychological impact:/ Living under occupation without the most basic
security has devastated the Iraqi population. A poll conducted by the
Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies in June found that 80% of
Iraqis believe that coalition forces should leave either immediately or
directly after the election.
*/C. Economic costs /*
/Unemployment:/ Iraqi joblessness doubled from 30% before the war to 60%
in the summer of 2003. While the Bush administration now claims that
unemployment has dropped, the US is only employing 120,000 Iraqis, of a
workforce of 7 million, in reconstruction projects.
/Corporate war profiteering:/ Most of Iraq's reconstruction has been
contracted out to US companies, rather than experienced Iraqi firms. Top
contractor Halliburton is being investigated for charging $160 million
for meals that were never served to troops and $61 million in cost
overruns on fuel deliveries. Halliburton employees also took $6 million
in kickbacks from sub-contractors, while other employees have reported
extensive waste, including the abandonment of $85,000 worth of trucks
because they had flat tires.
/Iraq's oil economy: /Anti-occupation violence has prevented Iraq from
capitalizing on its oil assets. There have been an estimated 118 attacks
on Iraq's oil infrastructure since June 2003. By September, oil
production still had not reached pre-war levels and major attacks caused
oil exports to plummet to a 10-month low in August.
/*D. Social costs*/
/Health infrastructure: /After more than a decade of crippling
sanctions, Iraq's health facilities were further damaged during the war
and post-invasion looting. Iraq's hospitals continue to suffer from lack
of supplies and an overwhelming number of patients.
/Education:/ The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that
more than 200 schools were destroyed in the conflict and thousands more
were looted in the chaos following the fall of Saddam Hussein. The State
Department reported on September 15 that "significant obstacles remain
in maintaining security for civilian/military reconstruction, logistical
support and distribution for donations, equipment, textbooks and supplies".
/Environment: /The US-led attack damaged water and sewage systems and
the country's fragile desert ecosystem. It also resulted in oil well
fires that spewed smoke across the country and left unexploded ordnance
that continues to endanger the Iraqi people and environment. Mines and
unexploded ordnance cause an estimated 20 casualties per month.
/*E. Human-rights costs*/
Even with Saddam overthrown, Iraqis continue to face human-rights
violations from occupying forces. In addition to the widely publicized
humiliation and torture of prisoners, abuse has been widespread
throughout the post-September 11 military operations, with over 300
allegations of abuse in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. As of
mid-August, only 155 investigations into the existing 300 allegations
had been completed.
/*F. Sovereignty costs*/
Despite the proclaimed "transfer of sovereignty" to Iraq, the country
continues to be occupied by US and coalition troops and has severely
limited political and economic independence. The interim government does
not have the authority to reverse the nearly 100 orders by former
Coalition Provisional Authority head L Paul Bremer that, among other
things, allow for the privatization of Iraq's state-owned enterprises
and prohibit preferences for domestic firms in reconstruction.
*III. Costs to the world*
/*A. Human costs*/
While Americans make up the vast majority of military and contractor
personnel in Iraq, other US-allied "coalition" troops have suffered 135
war casualties in Iraq. In addition, the focus on Iraq has diverted
international resources and attention away from humanitarian crises such
as in Sudan.
/*B. Disabling international law*/
The unilateral US decision to go to war in Iraq violated the United
Nations charter, setting a dangerous precedent for other countries to
seize any opportunity to respond militarily to claimed threats, whether
real or contrived, that must be "preempted". The US military has also
violated the Geneva Convention, making it more likely that in the
future, other nations will ignore these protections in their treatment
of civilian populations and detainees.
/*C. Undermining the United Nations*/
At every turn, the Bush administration has attacked the legitimacy and
credibility of the UN, undermining the institution's capacity to act in
the future as the centerpiece of global disarmament and conflict
resolution. The efforts of the Bush administration to gain UN acceptance
of an Iraqi government that was not elected but rather installed by
occupying forces undermines the entire notion of national sovereignty as
the basis for the UN charter. It was on this basis that secretary
general Kofi Annan referred specifically to the vantage point of the UN
charter in his September 2004 finding that the war was illegal.
/*D. Enforcing coalitions*/
Faced with opposition in the UN Security Council, the US government
attempted to create the illusion of multilateral support for the war by
pressuring other governments to join a so-called "coalition of the
willing". This not only circumvented UN authority, but also undermined
democracy in many coalition countries, where public opposition to the
war was as high as 90%. As of the middle of September, only 29 members
of the "coalition of the willing" had forces in Iraq, in addition to the
US. These countries, combined with US, make up less than 14% of the
/*E. Costs to the global economy*/
The $151.1 billion spent by the US government on the war could have cut
world hunger in half and covered HIV/AIDS medicine, childhood
immunization and clean water and sanitation needs of the developing
world for more than two years. As a factor in the oil price hike, the
war has created concerns of a return to the "stagflation" of the 1970s.
Already, the world's major airlines are expecting an increase in costs
of $1 billion or more per month.
/*F. Undermining global security and disarmament*/
The US-led war and occupation have galvanized international terrorist
organizations, placing people not only in Iraq but around the world at
greater risk of attack. The State Department's annual report on
international terrorism reported that in 2003 there was the highest
level of terror-related incidents deemed "significant" than at any time
since the US began issuing these figures.
/*G. Global environmental costs*/
US-fired depleted uranium weapons have contributed to pollution of
Iraq's land and water, with inevitable spillover effects in other
countries. The heavily polluted Tigris River, for example, flows through
Iraq, Iran and Kuwait.
/*H. Human rights*/
The Justice Department memo assuring the White House that torture was
legal stands in stark violation of the International Convention Against
Torture (of which the US is a signatory). This, combined with the widely
publicized mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US military and
intelligence officials, gave new license for torture and mistreatment by
governments around the world.
(Posted with permission from Foreign Policy in Focus <http://www.fpif.org>)
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