Monday, March 18, 2013

Ten years later: some costs of the Iraq war

U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Chamberlain and Spc. Alex Egan, both from 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, provide security during a patrol in Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 29, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jeffery Sandstrum)

A Brown University study came up with some figures (my comments in italics):

  • 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. (As I heard an Iraqi explain last night, the U.S. government has a better estimate of the number of rats in the New York City sewers than of Iraqis dead because of our war.)
  • 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 officials who made the choice to go to war didn't want us to be able to find out that figure any more than they wanted to count dead Iraqis.)
  • 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. (Aaron Glantz, writing for the Center for Investigative Reporting, recently revealed that the Veterans Administration currently has a backlog of 900,000 claims for disability benefits -- and expects the number of ex-soldiers waiting for a determination of their cases to rise to one million by the end of the year.)
  • 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. (This does not include suicides among veterans, recently estimated by the Department of Veterans Affairs to number 22 a day.)
  • 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. (If they can afford it. At least 15 percent of Iraqis are unemployed and near a quarter live below the local poverty line, despite sitting on all that oil.)
  • 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. (Dick Cheney's buddies grabbed their bit of taxpaper loot and waltzed away.)

H/t to Political Animal for pointing to the study.

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