What are the U.S. casualties so far from the Iraq invasion and occupation? It is a huge number that has not yet been calculated, according to this article by Dan Froomkin:
The death count is accurate. But the wounded figure wildly understates the number of American servicemembers who have come back from Iraq less than whole.
The true number of military personnel injured over the course of our nine-year-long fiasco in Iraq is in the hundreds of thousands — maybe even more than half a million — if you take into account all the men and women who returned from their deployments with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, depression, hearing loss, breathing disorders, diseases, and other long-term health problems.
We don’t have anything close to an exact number, however, because nobody’s been keeping track.
These numbers, whatever they might be, are a tiny portion of the total human casualties caused by the decision to invade Iraq.
Of course, there was no dancing in the streets, no victory parades, no flashy photos of sailors kissing nurses in Times Square. Why would there be? No one is proud of what the U.S. did in—or should we say “to”—Iraq. No valid mission has been accomplished. There’s no victory and nothing to celebrate. It’s just, sort of, over. Poof.
[Rachel] Maddow wondered specifically what the Republican candidates learned from waging what she called “preemptive war.” Maddow played clips of the various candidates responding to questions posed to them about a nuclear Iran. Maddow said by exception of Ron Paul, “every single Republican running for president says that he or she would gladly consider starting a preemptive war in the Middle East. No problemo.”
[Frank] Rich said that “half of [the candidates] don’t know where Iran is,” and described the candidates’ responses as “empty posturing.” He added that “they’ve learned nothing, they don’t even care if they’ve learned anything,” from the war in Iraq.
Many of us have wondered what really happened to the Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.Look what was accidentally left behind in Iraq, as reported by the New York Times: Interview transcripts describing the conduct of American soldiers serving in Iraq.
One question these interrogation transcripts raise is why these sorts of documents should have ever be considered classified. Their disclosure illustrates the abject immorality of the Iraq occupation, rather than revealing any particular strategy or tactics. Thus, it would appear that they were kept secret in order to help pretend that the United States does not do the sorts of horrific things that it does. Until their recent disclosure, the secrecy allowed us to maintain that the United States is the “greatest country in the world” regardless of the facts.
But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here, their frustrations and their frequently painful encounters with a population they did not understand. In their own words, the report documents the dehumanizing nature of this war, where Marines came to view 20 dead civilians as not “remarkable,” but as routine. Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time. Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar, in his own testimony, described it as “a cost of doing business.”
Why aren’t similar records being maintained and disclosed to the public?
[Maj. Gen. Thomas Richardson]said that over the course of several weeks he had burned dozens and dozens of binders, turning more untold stories about the war into ash.
“What can we do with them?” the attendant said. “These things are worthless to us, but we understand they are important and it is better to burn them to protect the Americans. If they are leaving, it must mean their work here is done.”
In your name and my name they carried on this war under false pretenses. In your name and my name they keep atrocities secret.
The Constitutionally deplorable intentions of the United States regarding Julian Assange and Wikileaks
At Occasional Planet, Madonna Gauding explains that the U.S. campaign to imprison Julian Assange and put him to death, has nothing to do with national security:
Unfortunately, prosecuting leakers is not really about upholding the law or maintaining national security. It is about making sure the government or corporations can continue to hide information they do not want citizens to know, such as the video of the horrific gunning down of Baghdad civilians by U.S. forces in Iraq that Private Bradley Manning exposed. In this example, this secret brings the lie to the official story of the so called humanitarian mission in Iraq. Exposing military wrongdoing undermines the power of the government and the corporations it supports who make their fortunes off war.
Prosecuting Assange to the fullest extent, which could mean prison or even execution for espionage, is not about bringing a criminal to “justice,” or protecting the citizens of the United States. It is about instilling fear and intimidation in any one else (including mainstream journalists) who might want to expose information about government or corporate malfeasance. The purpose of Assange’s prosecution is to send a strong message that whistle blowing will not be tolerated.
Mauding’s account is bolstered by the unrelenting and precise writings of Glenn Greenwald, who points out that the Wikileak’s release of materials apparently provided by Bradley Manning have done the opposite of threatening U.S. security.
[More . . . ]
At TruthDig, Tom Englelhart takes a look at America’s plan for Iraq and then examines the facts, concluding that it is the American nightmare.
Washington, though visibly diminished, remains an airless and eerily familiar place. No one there could afford to ask, for instance, what a Middle East, being transformed before our eyes, might be like without its American shadow, without the bases and fleets and drones and all the operatives that go with them. As a result, they simply keep on keeping on, especially with Bush’s global war on terror and with the protection in financial tough times of the Pentagon (and so of the militarization of this country).
What are the real costs of the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan? At Project Syndicate, Economist Joseph Stiglitz sizes both up the numbers and some of the intangibles:
[W]hen Linda Bilmes and I calculated America’s war costs three years ago, the conservative tally was $3-5 trillion. Since then, the costs have mounted further. With almost 50% of returning troops eligible to receive some level of disability payment, and more than 600,000 treated so far in veterans’ medical facilities, we now estimate that future disability payments and health-care costs will total $600-900 billion. But the social costs, reflected in veteran suicides (which have topped 18 per day in recent years) and family breakups, are incalculable.
These are stunning numbers. By the way, I never believed the government lies about why these “wars” were necessary. No one asked my opinion as to whether we should go to war. But nonetheless, if I pay my fair share, what is my cost for my country’s decade-long military adventures?
Increased defense spending, together with the Bush tax cuts, is a key reason why America went from a fiscal surplus of 2% of GDP when Bush was elected to its parlous deficit and debt position today. Direct government spending on those wars so far amounts to roughly $2 trillion – $17,000 for every US household – with bills yet to be received increasing this amount by more than 50%.
I haven’t take a poll, but I’d bet that virtually every taxpaying American family would rather have that $17,000 back; in fact, I’d bet almost all of them would rather, if they could, reallocate that money to any one of thousands of far worthier causes (e.g., a local school or research for a medical cure or buying books for a library), than to have that money finance Middle East military invasions.
The next time a politician-hawk suggests that we ought to invade Iran, he or she should be required to go on national TV first, to present a PowerPoint presentation illustrating these massive costs set forth by Mr. Stiglitz, as well as presenting a long slide show. That show would include photos of all of the U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. 1,648 U.S. soldiers have died because of our invasion of Afghanistan and 4,4,70 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq so far. Maybe the politician wouldn’t actually have time to show a slide of each dead U.S. soldier. So, perhaps, this morbid slide show, in the name of expediency, should show the faces of 25 dead U.S. soldiers per slide. Certainly, we’ll want to keep each slide of 25 dead soldiers up on the screen for at least a couple minutes per slide, and there will be 244 slides. That means it will take eight hours to show the faces of all of the dead U.S. soldiers who were fighting for our “freedom.” If you want to show photos of all the wounded too, you’d be in for a much longer slide show. 13,447 U.S. soldiers have been wounded in Afghanistan. More than 150,000 U.S. soldiers are receiving disability payments as a result of serving in Iraq.
That slide show should also include photos of all of those American families who are missing a parent-soldier or a child-soldier. And interviews of the surviving family members of each of the soldiers who have committed suicide; there have been 1,000 of these soldier-suicides during the Iraq-Afghanistan invasions. And any worthwhile slide show should include at least a few thousand photos of the Iraqi and Afghanistan parents and children killed by any weapons, including U.S. bombs, bullets and drones in Afghanistan and Iraq. And the slide show really needs to include photos of thousands of American schools back home, all of them in desperate need of repair because the districts can’t afford the repairs. the show should also include photos of millions of Americans out of work because of our reprehensible priorities under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. For the grand finale, the slide show should include photos of thousands of excellent projects that went un-built (e.g., sustainable energy projects) due to lack of funds that went, instead, to insatiable U.S. warmongering.
As spelled out by Antiwar.com, the Obama Administration is spinning furiously to convince us that the U.S. military is no longer conducting “combat operations” in Iraq, and the corporate media is eating it up. Since there is no more “combat” in Iraq, let’s have a parade in downtown Baghdad!
World English Dictionary defines “spin” thusly:
13.informal to present news or information in a way that creates a favourable impression
President Obama is kind enough to provide us with an example:
President Obama on Monday announced plans to withdraw combat forces in Iraq, providing assurances that an Aug. 31 deadline will be met as the U.S. moves toward a supporting role in the still-fractured and dangerous nation.
U.S. forces in Iraq will number 50,000 by the end of the month — a reduction of 94,000 troops since he took office 18 months ago, the president said in remarks to the Disabled American Veterans. The remaining troops will form a transitional force until a final withdrawal from the country is completed by the end of 2011, he said.
… “Make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing — from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats.”
Only in the world of “spin” (or Orwell) would 50,000 troops be considered a “civilian effort led by our diplomats”.