The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Editorial:
Iraq War:
This generation’s bitter fruit

Feb 5, 2007

If the war in Iraq were to stop today, here is what its cost would be.

655,000 Iraqis dead – direct or indirect victims of the U.S. invasion. These figures come from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Over three million Iraqis turned into refugees – more than one-tenth the population of Iraq, a refugee catastrophe unmatched in the modern Middle East.

Those Iraqis who have not been killed or driven into exile live with little electricity and untreated drinking water – in a country that before the war was one of the most developed in the Middle East. They live with little access to adequate food and less to medical care – in a country that once had the second highest standard of living in the Middle East.

3100 U.S. troops are dead; 48,000, wounded or harmed by the war. And 100,000 service personnel are on disability as the result of service in Iraq, with another 50,000 disability applicants waiting for the slow bureaucratic wheels of government to turn.

This does not count the number of Iraq war veterans who will turn out to be disabled in future years, either through delayed traumatic stress or illnesses coming from exposure to the weapons used in the war. (The first Gulf War lasted for only four weeks, but 43% of U.S. troops who served in that war remain on disability today, 16 years later.)

How many U.S. personnel who serve in the Iraq war will later commit suicide, in part because of the atrocities they witnessed or committed or the traumatic incidents they went through?

We have no way to know, but we do know that more U.S. veterans of the Viet Nam war committed suicide than were killed in the war itself.

Finally, there is the cost we will pay for all the useful things left undone, needs left unmet. A conservative estimate puts the total U.S. cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars at 1.2 trillion dollars. Some economists say that two trillion is closer to the mark – and growing.

Even 1.2 trillion is an unthinkable measure of what could have been accomplished. The amount spent every year is enough to double cancer research; AND treat all diabetes and heart problems in the U.S.; AND carry out a campaign around the globe to immunize every child not immunized today; AND prepare every child in this country to succeed in school by setting up pre-school for every three and four year old; AND modernize every school building in the country. There would still be money enough left over to reconstruct New Orleans plus provide medical coverage for everyone who doesn’t have it today.

All of this is the real cost of the war in Iraq – IF the war were to stop today.

But the war is NOT stopping. The Bush administration is extending it, and the Democrats, while criticizing him, are going along with it, even though as the majority they could stop him.

So, 20,500 additional combat troops are already on their way. But, according to the Congressional Budget Office, they will be backed up by 30,000 or so others required in support positions.

The war is extending – and becoming more horrifying. Iraqis are being imprisoned in their neighborhoods – while troops sweep through every living room, every bedroom, every hallway, terrorizing the civilian population. Helicopter cannons are strafing civilian neighborhoods. The U.S. is using Kurdish militias in Shiite areas, and Shiite militias in Sunni areas – adding fuel to an already volatile civil war.

There is only one stance we can have confronting the violent attempt of U.S. imperialism to use us as cannon fodder against the rest of the world. Oppose it!

U.S. out of Iraq! Bring the troops home now!