This March marked the 16th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
In 2003, President George W. Bush and his advisers based their case for war on the idea that Saddam Hussein, then dictator of Iraq, possessed weapons of mass destruction — weapons that have never been found and never existed. Nevertheless, all these years later, Bush’s “Global War on Terror” continues — in Iraq and in many other countries.
It’s a good time to reflect on what this war — the longest in U.S. history — has cost Americans and others around the world.
First, the economic costs: According to estimates by the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the war on terror has cost Americans a staggering $5.6 trillion since 2001, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.
$5.6 trillion. This figure includes not just the Pentagon’s war fund, but also future obligations such as social services for an ever-growing number of post-9/11 veterans.
It’s hard for most of us to even begin to grasp such an enormous number.
Put another way: Since 2001, every American taxpayer has spent almost $24,000 on the wars.
As stupefying as those numbers are, the budgetary costs pale in comparison with the human toll.
As of 2015, when the Costs of War project made its latest tallies, up to 165,000 Iraqi civilians had died as a direct consequence of U.S. war, plus around 8,000 U.S. soldiers and military contractors in Iraq.
In addition to those direct deaths, at least four times as many people in Iraq have died from the side effects of war, such as malnutrition, environmental degradation, and deteriorated infrastructure.
Since the 2003 invasion, for instance, Iraqi health care has plummeted — with hospitals and clinics bombed, supplies of medicine and electricity jeopardized, and thousands of physicians and healthcare workers fleeing the country.
Meanwhile, the war continues to spread, no longer limited to Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria, as many Americans think. Indeed, the U.S. military is escalating a shadowy network of so-called “anti-terror operations” all across the world — in at least 76 nations, or 40 percent of countries on the planet.
We must ask: Are these astounding costs worth it? Is the U.S. accomplishing anything close to its claims?
The answer is, resoundingly, NO!
Instead the world sees the U.S. as the modern embodiment of State Terror, bullying, controlling, and punishing every nation that doesn’t kowtow to it.
U.S. activity in Iraq and the Middle East has only spurred greater political upheaval and unrest. The U.S.-led coalition is seen not as a liberating force, but as an aggressor. This has fomented insurgent recruitment, and there are now more terrorist groups in the Middle East than ever before — most of them sponsored by the U.S.
The so-called “War On Terror with its mushrooming costs — economic, human, social, and political — will just continue to grow until God ends the U.S. terrorists.