The Iraq War Ends For America

Apparently it’s for real: President Obama is ordering all U.S. troops out of Iraq by year’s end, observing (as Bryan reminds us in comments) Iraq’s refusal to sign a new Status of Forces Agreement allowing American troops to stay. It’s time for us all to pause and evaluate what we got and what it cost us to be involved in Mr. Bush’s now Mr. Obama’s War.

The financial cost of the Iraq war is of course insignificant compared to the human losses. As of May 2010, about 4400 American troops have been killed and nearly 32,000 wounded in action. Remember that military battlefield medicine has improved to the point that troops can be saved who are very, very severely wounded; those troops and their families have to live with their suffering and disability for the rest of their lives. And that’s not even mentioning the impact of PTSD, again on both troops and their families. Iraqi security forces aligned with the coalition have lost between 9000 and 11,000 killed as of April 2009. Contractors lost between 1000 and 1500 people as of January 2009. Almost 200 journalists and media support persons had been killed, as well as nearly 100 aid workers, as of November 2007.

And there are Iraqi civilians. It is much more difficult to get an accurate count of how many died or were wounded; estimates of Iraqi civilian fatalities by various organizations with their assorted approaches to counting range from about 100,000 to more than 1,000,000. Take your choice. How many deaths are too many deaths among a civilian population whose nation was preemptively invaded, without direct and immediate provocation, by the world’s (formerly) most powerful military force?

Oh, yes, there were financial costs, too. Direct costs to the American taxpayer have been estimated at about $800 billion, not including a CBO-estimated additional $1.1 trillion or so in cost of equipment and aircraft destroyed, cost of rehab for returning troops, cost of reestablishing readiness degraded by a war of about 9 years duration. If you are a typical taxpayer, your share of this war is about $6300, based on the CBO estimate.

Let us consider what we got in exchange for all those losses, hardships, tragedies, ended lives and ruined lives, and of course money. Here is my list:


Right. Unless you were managing a military contractor company, you got nothing… nothing… for your nine years of war. Nothing.

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the families who lost mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children and parents to this senseless war. The conscience is overwhelmed by the death, disability and destruction caused because George W. Bush, our “president” who was never legitimately elected in 2000 in the first place, felt that Saddam Hussein had insulted Dub’s daddy. And because Dub wanted to be a “wartime president.”

As much as I hate to credit Obama with right action, even if his hand was forced, he is bringing this nightmare to an end. Now if he can only get us out of Afghanistan and all those other places, and stop the drone killings, and the targeted executions even of American citizens, and (fulfilling his campaign promise) end the deplorable operation at Guantánamo…

Haven’t we had enough of playing the heavy to the entire world?


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