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The Iraq War Ledger (2013 Update)

The Iraq War Ledger (2013 Update)

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On the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, we re-examine the costs and benefits to U.S. national security from our intervention there.
On the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, we re-examine the costs and benefits to U.S. national security from our intervention there.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Mar 18, 2013
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1Center for American Progress |  The Iraq War Ledger (2013 Update)
 The Iraq War Ledger (2013 Update)
A Look at the War’s Human, Financial, and Strategic Costs
Matthew Duss and Peter Juul March 2013
en years ago his monh, he Unied Saes invaded and occupied Iraq. Tis anniversary isan appropriae ime o examine, once again, he coss and benes o U.S. naional securiy rom our inervenion here.On May 1, 2003, Presiden George W. Bush sood aboard he deck o he aircra carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and declared o he counry and o he world ha “Major comba opera-ions in Iraq have ended. In he batle o Iraq, he Unied Saes and our allies have prevailed.” As Americans would quickly nd ou, Presiden Bushs declaraion o vicory was severely premaure. Iraq would soon be in he hroes o a violen insurgency and, evenually, a ull- blown secarian civil war.en years aer ha speech, he U.S. miliary has exied Iraq. Iraq has made progress busill sruggles wih insecuriy and deep poliical discord. Tough he level o violence hasremained down rom is 2006–2007 peak—when dozens o bodies could be ound onBaghdad’s srees every morning—Iraq sill endures a level o violence ha in any ohercounry would be considered a crisis. Sill, he end o ormer Iraq Presiden SaddamHussein’s brual regime represens a considerable global good, and a nascen democraicIraqi republic parnered wih he Unied Saes could poenially yield benes in he uure.Bu when weighing hose possible benes agains he coss o he Iraq inervenion, hereis simply no conceivable calculus by which Operaion Iraqi Freedom can be judged ohave been a successul or worhwhile policy. Te war was inended o show he exen o  America’s power. I succeeded only in showing is limis.Te ables and chars below ell he ale. We have grouped hese coss ino hree caegories:Te human coss, dealing wih American and Iraqi casualiesTe nancial coss, dealing wih he expense o he war and o he coninued care oris veerans
 
2Center for American Progress |  The Iraq War Ledger (2013 Update)
Te sraegic coss, dealing wih he impac o he Iraq inervenion on U.S. power andinfuence in he Middle Eas and on he global sageBeore urning o hose ables and chars, however, we would like o make woaddiional poins.Firs, i is criical o remember he shiing jusicaions or he U.S. inervenion in Iraq.Te Iraq invasion was sold o he American public on he basis o Saddam Hussein’ssupposed possession o weapons o mass desrucion and his alleged relaionship wih Al Qaeda. When boh claims urned ou o be alse, he Bush adminisraion jusied heinervenion on he idea ha a democraic Iraq would be an ally in he “war on error” andan inspiraion or democraic reorm in he Middle Eas. Tese argumens remain, a bes,highly quesionable.Second, he auhors would like o make clear ha his analysis o he coss o he Iraq warin no way diminishes he sacrice, courage, and honor displayed by he U.S. miliary inIraq. Americans roops have served and died in Iraq a he behes o he American peopleand wo o heir commanders-in-chie. Tis is why i is imporan o draw he correclessons rom our naions invasion o Iraq. In order o do ha, is coss mus be examinedhonesly and rigorously.
Human costs
The numbers for total deaths and Iraqi civilian deaths represent the lower end of estimated deaths caused by the Iraq war. We would like to acknowledge that other studies, such as those carried out by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Iraq Family Health Survey, estimate much higher civiliandeaths as a result of the war.
1
• Total deaths:
Beween 110,663 and 119,380
• Coalition deaths:
4,803
2
• U.S. deaths:
4,484
3
• U.S. wounded:
32,200
4
• U.S. deaths as a percentage of coalition deaths:
93.37 percen
• Iraqi Security Force, or ISF, deaths:
 
 A leas 10,125
5
• Total coalition and ISF deaths:
A leas 14,926
• Iraqi civilian deaths:
 
Beween 103,674 and 113,265
6
• Non-Iraqi contractor deaths:
A leas 463
• Internally displaced persons:
1.24 million
7
• Refugees:
More han 1.6 million
8
Iraqi civilian deathsCoalition deaths4,803Between 103,674and 113,265
4,394
U.S. deaths
319
Other Coalitiondeaths
 
3Center for American Progress |  The Iraq War Ledger (2013 Update)
Financial costs
• Cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom:
$806 billion
9
Projected total cost of veterans’ health care and disability:
$422 billion o $717 billion
10
Strategic costs
Te oregoing coss could conceivably be jusied i he Iraq inervenion had improvedhe Unied Saes’ sraegic posiion in he Middle Eas. Bu his is clearly no he case. TeIraq war has srenghened ani-U.S. elemens and made he posiion o he Unied Saesand is allies more precarious.
Empowered Iran in Iraq and region.
 
Te Islamic epublic o Iran is he primary srae-gic beneciary o he U.S.-led inervenion in Iraq. Te end o Saddam Hussein’s regimeremoved Iran’s mos-haed enemy (wih whom i ough a hugely desrucive war in he1980s) and removed he mos signican check on Irans regional hegemonic aspiraions.Many o Iraq’s key Iraqi Shia Islamis and Kurdish leaders enjoy close ies o Iran, acilia-ing considerable infuence or Iran in he new Iraq.
Created terrorist training ground
 
Te years o U.S. occupaion in Iraq creaed no only a rallying call or violen Islamic exremiss bu also an environmen or hem o develop,es, and perec various acics and echniques. Tese acics and echniques are now shared, boh in person and via he Inerne, wih exremiss all over he region and he world, including hose ghing U.S. roops in Aghanisan. Iraq coninues o sruggle wihhe problem o errorism, and ranked rs in he 2012 Global errorism Index published by he Insiue or Economics and Peace.
11
 
Loss of international standing.
 
 While abuses are perhaps ineviable in any miliary occu-paion, he images and sories broadcas rom Iraq ino he region and around he worldhave done lasing damage o he Unied Saes’ repuaion as a supporer o inernaionalorder and human righs. Gen. David Peraeus has said ha he damage done o he UniedSaes’ image by Abu Ghraib is permanen, calling i a “nonbiodegradable”
12
even.
Diverted resources and attention from Afghanistan.
 
aher han say and nish he jobin Aghanisan as promised, he Bush adminisraion urned is ocus o Iraq beginningin 2002, in preparaion or he 2003 invasion. Special Forces specializing in regional lan-guages were divered rom Aghanisan o Iraq, and Predaor drones were sen o supporhe war in Iraq insead o he hun or Al Qaeda in Aghanisan and Pakisan.
Stifled democracy reform.
 
 While he Arab Awakening o 2011 is a poenially posiivedevelopmen, here’s no evidence ha he Iraq war conribued o his in any posiive way. A 2010 RND sudy concluded ha, raher han becoming a beacon o democracy, heIraq war hobbled he cause o poliical reorm in he Middle Eas. Te repor saed ha

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