Post details: Iraq War: Costs People Pay

Iraq War: Costs People Pay

English (US)  September 6th, 2010 by admin ( Email )

By Farooque Chowdhury


A devastated land and a demolished life there in Iraq unmask one face of a 21st century Naked Imperialism (title of a book by John Bellamy Foster, editor, Monthly Review). And, the Iraqi and the American peoples pay most for the politico-military adventure.

The Human Cost of the War in Iraq, A Mortality Study, 2002-2006 (Bloomberg School of Public Health, Maryland, and School of Medicine, Baghdad) estimated that 654,965 or 2.5% of the Iraqi population has died in this war. Death rates were 5.5/1,000/year pre-invasion and overall, 13.2 for the 40 months post-invasion while the post-invasion violent death rate was 3.2 deaths/1,000/year in March 2003-April 2004, 6.6 in May 2004-May 2005, and 12.0 in June 2005-June 2006. Air strikes caused about 13 percent of deaths. “Between 200 million to one billion small-caliber rounds of ammunition or more have been expended … by the U.S. forces.” Marc Herold, an economist on the independent Iraq Body Count (IBC) believed that thousands of deaths may go unreported. A UN report in September 2006 also stated that Iraqi civilian casualties have been significantly under-reported. A study found that the number of journalists killed from 2003 to 2007 was 112. Of them 90 were Iraqis. The number, according to another count, goes up to141, 94 by murder and 47 by acts of war. The number of Iraqi physicians murdered since the invasion was 2,000. An Opinion Research Business survey estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths up to August 2007.


Increased number of deaths from non-violent causes suggests, the Human Cost … Study said, “deaths due to deterioration in health services and the environment health threats, as well as decreasing access to health services.” A WFP study found that 17 percent of children were underweight and 32 percent chronically malnourished or stunted. (Baseline food security analysis in Iraq, 2004) The war has destructed vital infrastructures for food, water, security, and sanitation. The Red Cross observed in March 2008 that Iraq's humanitarian situation was among the most critical in the world, with millions of Iraqis forced to rely on insufficient and poor-quality water sources. (Iraq: No let-up in the humanitarian crisis) Joseph Chamie, former director of the UN Population Division said: Iraq’s health care system now look “more and more like a country in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The Brookings Institution's Iraq Index informs: unemployment rate ranged from 27 percent to 60 percent, consumer price inflation in 2006 rose to 50 percent, 40 percent of the professionals have left Iraq since 2003, 12,000 Iraqi physicians of the pre-invasion day 34,000 have left the country. Seventy percent of the Iraqis are without access to adequate water supplies. In the pre-invasion days, Baghdad homes, on an average, had 16 to 24 hours of electric supply daily. Estimate of average daily availability of electricity in Iraqi homes vary: 1-2 hours to 10.9 hours.

A sectarian strife-ridden land with its 16 percent of the population (about 4.7 million) refugees (more than 2 million of them were in countries including Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Iran), and 35 percent of its children (about 5 million) orphans witnessed the disgraced exit of hawks, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, and burning of Bush-effigy in Baghdad, the city that also witnessed toppling of a Saddam- statue, a symbol of autocracy. Iraq, the fifth in the 2008 and the sixth in the 2009 Failed States Index, is now one of the major clients of the US armaments industry. The billions-dollar Iraqi arms marketing list includes rifles, armored vehicles, tanks, helicopters, transport planes and F-16 planes.

Obama, as Senator, in a speech in Charleston on March 20, 2008 said: the war costs each US household about $100 per month. (PolitiFact April 1st, 2008) Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, and professor at Harvard University Linda J. Bilmes in their book The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict arrived in the same arithmetical conclusion: The bill for the war is likely to top $3 trillion. It is a “conservative estimate”, they told. Iraq War, the second most costly, surpassed only by the World War II, is more than double the cost of the Korean War. They wrote: “The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy….These costs … are now running at $12 billion a month. …President Bush tried to sell the American people on the idea that we could have a war with little or no economic sacrifice. Even after the United States went to war, Bush and Congress cut taxes, especially on the rich – even though the United States already had a massive deficit. So the war had to be funded by more borrowing.” They added: “But the costs to our society and economy are far greater. When a young soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, his or her family will receive a US government check for just $500,000 … – far less than the typical amount paid by insurance companies for the death of a young person in a car accident. The stark ‘budgetary cost’ of $500,000 is clearly only a fraction of the total cost society pays for the loss of life – and no one can ever really compensate the families.” They warned: The US “will be paying the price of Iraq for decades to come.” They cited: “[In the WWII] the cost per troop (in today's dollars) was less than $100,000 in 2007 dollars. … [T]he Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop.” They continued: “The costs to society are obviously far larger than the numbers that show up on the government's budget.” “Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.” “[T]he social costs in the UK are similar to those in the US.” (The Three Trillion Dollar War:…, and “The Iraq War Will Cost Us $3 Trillion, and Much More”, March 9, 2008)

History shall not cease haunting the perpetrators of invasion with questions: the costs the democracy- and freedom-loving American people paid with their sons and daughters, thousands in number, many of them were young, smiling as morning flowers, to many of them the world owed scores of springs; the sufferings of the Iraqi people and the number of deaths the Iraqi children and mothers witnessed; the hunger and logic of an ever-accumulating illogical economy that needs war, invasion, death and destruction. The unemployed, the homeless, the starving, the sick, billions in number, shall question the logic of spending taxpayers’ trillions of dollar. The tragic lessons of the war will intensify people’s peaceful march that perceives revolutionary dynamics of history, a march that does not use terror as terror cannot replace political struggle and as political struggle unequivocally discards terror.

Farooque Chowdhury, a Bangladesh- freelancer, contributes on socioeconomic issues.

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