12-2: Iraq War Lingers, Numbers Grow

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece, excerpted from the work of David Swanson.]

Iraq War Among World’s Worst Events

This dated material comes from an e-book by David Swanson, also author of War Is a Lie. Swanson decries all war. So, although the excerpts below regarding the war in Iraq may seem anti-American, taken in the larger context of Swanson’s pacifism, they provide realism to the human cost of war.

Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL)

… (S)ince the launch of Operation Iraqi Liberation … and over (25) years since Operation Desert Storm, there is little evidence that any significant number of people in the United States have a realistic idea of what our government has done to the people of Iraq, or of how these actions compare to other horrors of world history. A majority of Americans believe the war since 2003 has hurt the United States but benefitted Iraq. A plurality of Americans believe, not only that Iraqis should be grateful, but that Iraqis are in fact grateful.

This phenomenon occurs, I believe, because such a minute portion of the American people ever experience the battlefield. My frame of reference is Vietnam where, as in Iraq and all other war zones, “our” battlefield is “their” home.

By the Numbers

… As documented below, by the most scientifically respected measures available, Iraq lost 1.4 million lives as a result of OIL, saw 4.2 million additional people injured, and 4.5 million people become refugees. The 1.4 million dead was 5% of the population. That compares to 2.5% lost in the U.S. Civil War, or 3 to 4% in Japan in World War II, 1% in France and Italy in World War II, less than 1% in the U.K. and 0.3% in the United States in World War II. The 1.4 million dead is higher as an absolute number as well as a percentage of population than these other horrific losses. U.S. deaths in Iraq since 2003 have been 0.3% of the dead, even if they’ve taken up the vast majority of the news coverage, preventing U.S. news consumers from understanding the extent of Iraqi suffering….

The 2003 invasion included 29,200 air strikes, followed by another 3,900 over the next eight years. The U.S. military … made use of what some might call “weapons of mass destruction,” using cluster bombs, white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new kind of napalm in densely settled urban areas….

I have first-hand knowledge and experience with white phosphorous and napalm. Some things, I guess, never change—except the words we use to describe the pieces that go into the panoply of war. Napalm in Vietnam, for instance, was termed a “defoliant,” not a WMD.

Money spent by the United States to “reconstruct” Iraq was always less than 10% of what was being spent adding to the damage, and most of it was never actually put to any useful purpose. At least a third was spent on “security,” while much of the rest was spent on corruption in the U.S. military and its contractors….

Haliburton and Blackwater come immediately to mind … and they still operate in Iraq and around the world.

If the United States had taken five trillion dollars, and — instead of spending it destroying Iraq — had chosen to do good with it, at home or abroad, just imagine the possibilities. The United Nations thinks $30 billion a year would end world hunger. For $5 trillion, why not end world hunger for 167 years? …

Mind boggling!

Swanson goes on in great detail to delineate the cost of (this) war. My concern, for purposes of this site—PTSDOutreach.com—is the effect of war on the American soldier.

A soldier orders a strike—of whatever weapon: cluster bomb, napalm, etc.—a soldier delivers the strike, and a soldier witnesses the aftermath. These actions are not without consequence to the soldier. Immediately or most assuredly eventually the soldier will process, mentally and emotionally, the acts of war. In the end, the soldier pays the price of war. And Haliburton, Blackwater, et al. get richer and richer.


The illustration at the blog’s top corner is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.



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