Friday, December 9, 2011

This bloody, bloody war

We're on a countdown to the end of the Iraq war, but almost  no one seems to notice.

Nine years of war: what has it cost us?  What have we gained?

In lives: As of today, 4801 coalition forces have been killed, 4483 of them U.S. military members.  Official estimates say 32,200 have been injured, but some estimates put that number closer to 100,000.  Many of those injuries are brain injuries and amputations that will affect those injured for the rest of their lives.

On the Iraqi side, more than 100,000 civilian deaths have been documented, but Just Foreign Policy, Lancet and other place the number at more than a million.  The number of injured is undocumented.

In money: The official tally stands at $800 billion-- that's $3000 a second—for the duration of the war.  These are direct costs, however, and don't include the cost of replacing equipment, vehicles and weapons, and the cost of providing health care and other benefits for veterans.  That could push the cost to about $4 trillion.

I won't put all the blame for the recession on the war, but, in these times, can you imagine the number of jobs that could have been created with that money? 

What have we gained?   Only the most cynical would say that the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein justifies what we have lost.  A few might claim that Iraq paved the way for the Arab Spring, but I'd be more inclined to say that the people would have overthrown Hussein  themselves by now.  

Can anyone think of even one other benefit from this bloody, bloody war?

Anti-war activists called this war before it happened.  We saw the handwriting on the wall on 9/11, we tried to stop it and when we couldn't, we tried to bring it to an early end, and we couldn't do that, either.  the last few years the energy of the anti-war movement has been sapped by a misguided faith in Barack Obama.   Maybe we're just tired.  Or maybe we're coming to believe that everything must change before there can be no more wars.   

For more than nine years, Arise has vigiled every Monday at noon in front of the Federal Building in Springfield. We've had a half dozen major demonstrations there, joined by anti-war activists from around the Valley.  On snowy or rainy days, maybe the numbers get as low as four, but usually there's a dozen or more people.   We'll mark the end of this war in some way before the end of the year.  But we will continue to vigil.

There's still Afghanistan.

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