Iraq War 10th anniversary links and discussion thread

Ten years ago, President George W. Bush made the disastrous mistake of taking this country to war against Iraq. I’ve posted some links about the costs and casualties of war after the jump.

Any relevant thoughts are welcome in this thread. I appreciate the work and commitment of those who tried to derail the speeding train toward invasion, and of those who protested the war after it began. I did nothing to stop the war in Iraq–just sat in a rocking chair cradling a new baby, feeling horrified while watching the news on television.

Roll call for the October 2002 U.S. House vote on the authorization for the use of military force in Iraq: 296 to 133. Four of Iowa’s five representatives voted yes: Republicans Jim Nussle (IA-01), Tom Latham (IA-05), and Greg Ganske (IA-04), and Democrat Leonard Boswell (IA-03). Republican Jim Leach (IA-02) was one of only six House Republicans to vote no. This vote may be the reason why Leach survived a strong challenge in the redrawn IA-02 in 2002.

Roll call for the October 2002 U.S. Senate vote on the authorization for the use of military force in Iraq: 77 to 23. Both of Iowa’s senators voted yes. This was not one of Tom Harkin’s finer moments. He was facing a re-election challenge from Greg Ganske at the time.

None of the politicians or policy “experts” who led us into war have been held accountable.

Public schools are not teaching students much about this war.

A new study from Brown University indicates,

According to the project, there have been more than 189,000 direct war deaths. Some 134,000 civilians have been killed directly by war violence, and it is estimated that hundreds of thousands more have died from war-related hardships and illnesses.

The death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq has reached 4,488 – and 3,418 U.S. contractors working for the military have also been killed since March 2003.


And then there are the post-combat injuries and the home front repercussions of war. Almost 700,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been granted disability. It is estimated that future medical and disability costs for veterans will be between $600 billion and $1 trillion, according to the project.

Total federal spending associated with the war has reached $1.7 trillion. Future promised health and disability payments for veterans through 2053 add up to $490 billion. So, as it stands now, the Iraq War has cost $2.2 trillion, which is a far cry from the initial 2002 estimates of $50 to $60 billion. When you factor in the interest, war expenses could swell to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades.

Click here to read the full report on the costs of the war in Iraq.

Veterans Administration spending on health care and disability payments for Iraq War veterans will continue to rise for decades.

The Iraq war has cost the United States $1.7 trillion – in addition to catastrophic human, social and political losses – and that number could climb to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades, according to the Costs of War Project.

One cost that has just begun to accumulate is Iraq veterans’ medical care and disability payments, which could top out in yearly spending around 2050 and total in the hundreds of billions of dollars. This is not surprising, even though there is no special fund set aside to help us meet the towering commitment. A look at previous wars shows that VA spending continues to climb for decades after a conflict is over then falls off as veterans die in old age. Payments to veterans from Vietnam and the first Gulf War have not yet peaked, according to Havard economist Linda Bilmes. World War I veteran payments were highest more than 50 years after the war ended.

Veteran spending for the post-9/11 wars may have an even longer tail because medical advances have made gruesome battlefield injuries increasingly survivable and more veterans are filing disability claims for long-term psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Rising health care costs will accelerate the economic impact of expensive lifelong treatments.

Many spouses and children of Iraq War veterans suffer from PTSD, just like the soldiers in their families.

This week Representative Bruce Braley (D, IA-01) again called for a “full accounting” of the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Press release from March 18:

Braley Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Require True Accounting of Iraq, Afghanistan War Costs

Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) has joined Republican Rep. Walter Jones (NC-03) to introduce bipartisan legislation requiring a full accounting of the human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 19, 2013, marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the American ground invasion of Iraq.

Braley said, “Congress has spent $1.5 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far, but those costs don’t even begin to account for so many indirect costs and the costs of these wars yet to come: lifetime care for injured veterans, long-term mental health treatment, spousal benefits for families of those we lost, and more.

“These wars have had a tremendous impact on our federal budget and our standing in the world.  American taxpayers deserve a true and full accounting of these conflicts, so we understand the financial and human toll these wars have placed on our nation.”

The bipartisan True Cost of War Act requires the President to work with the secretaries of Defense, State, and Veterans Affairs to submit a written report to the public tallying the long-term human and financial costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Braley first introduced the True Cost of War Act in 2008 and has worked in subsequent sessions of Congress to pass the bill into law.  In 2011, the legislation was passed by the US House in a bipartisan vote.  However, the True Cost of the War Act has never advanced to the President’s desk for his signature into law.

Full text of the bill can be downloaded at the following link:

David Corn remembers how “in those dreadful months before the March 19, 2003, invasion of Iraq, the cheerleaders for war inhabited a place of privilege within the media.”

Today people think of MSNBC as a left-wing alternative to Fox News, but in the run-up to the Iraq War, MSNBC corporate executives pressured correspondents to cover the drive toward war “in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings.”

Media Matters examines the work of “some of the [American news] media’s most prominent pro-war voices.”

Instead of facing consequences for backing the invasion based on information that turned out to be false and criticizing war opponents, many of these media figures continue to hold positions of influence and continue to provide foreign policy reporting and commentary.

Statement released by Representative Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02) on March 19:

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today marking the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War.  Loebsack is the only member from the Iowa delegation to serve on the Armed Services Committee and has traveled to Iraq three times.  During his visits, Loebsack met with troops and commanders on the ground and brought a touch of home to the troops by presenting them with care packages made by Iowa students.

“As we reflect on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War we thank the men and women who served for their bravery and selflessness.  We must also remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country and honor their memory. We must pay tribute to the families of the more than one million troops who served in Iraq.  Though the war has ended, we still have a great responsibility here at home.  We must ensure that our servicemembers, who served with such dedication and honor, receive nothing but the best medical care and support, and that those looking for civilian jobs are able to find them.”

“After ten years, 4,475 lives lost, more than 32,000 injured and more than a trillion dollars spent, there are many lessons that we as a nation must take away from the war.  But none is as important as making sure our troops have the tools necessary to stay safe on the battlefield and those who have returned have access to the services they need when they come home.  As a member of the Armed Services Committee and a military parent, I work every day to ensure our men and women who volunteer to defend our country are taken care of, whether here at home or when they are overseas.”

UPDATE: On March 19, Braley published a blog post at the Huffington Post about his efforts to pass the “True Cost of War” bill. He discussed the wartime injuries that permanently changed the life of Ian Ralston, a Waterloo native and former high school classmate of Braley’s daughter.

Today marks the ten year anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq. A decade later, Ian’s story is all too familiar – thousands of our nation’s most promising sons and daughters have been paralyzed or otherwise disabled in the line of duty. Many others continue to suffer the invisible wounds of war, in the form of Traumatic Brain Injury or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Over 4,400 American servicemembers made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for their country in Iraq.

It’s easy to place a dollar value on weapons and supplies, but more difficult to calculate the actual cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The reported cost is in the range of $1.5 trillion – which is a lot of money.

Yet these “reported” costs don’t even begin to account for so many of the future costs of these wars that are yet to come: lifetime care for injured veterans, long-term mental health treatment, prosthetics and maintenance, spousal benefits for families of the brave veterans who never return home, and damage to civilian populations.

In 2008, Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard University professor Linda J. Bilmes calculated the true cost of the Iraq War at $3 trillion, accounting for both government expenditures and the broader impacts of the war on the economy. Later, in 2010, they revisited their calculation and noted that it was probably too conservative.

SECOND UPDATE: Richard Norton-Taylor reported for the UK newspaper The Guardian,

A special BBC Panorama programme tonight will reveal how British and US intelligence agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries.

It describes how Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, told the CIA’s station chief in Paris at the time, Bill Murray, through an intermediary that Iraq had “virtually nothing” in terms of WMD.

Sabri said in a statement that the Panorama story was “totally fabricated”.

However, Panorama confirms that three months before the war an MI6 officer met Iraq’s head of intelligence, Tahir Habbush al-Tikriti, who also said that Saddam had no active WMD. The meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, took place days before the British government published its now widely discredited Iraqi weapons dossier in September 2002.

Lord Butler, the former cabinet secretary who led an inquiry into the use of intelligence in the runup to the invasion of Iraq, tells the programme that he was not told about Sabri’s comments, and that he should have been.

Butler says of the use of intelligence: “There were ways in which people were misled or misled themselves at all stages.”

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