The Spark

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

U.S. War on Iraq:
An Enormous Human Toll

Sep 5, 2011

One and a half years after 9/11, in March 2003, the Bush administration launched a full-fledged war on Iraq under the pretext of “fighting terrorism.”

Never mind that Iraq, under the then-dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, or religious fundamentalism in general.

Instead, the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, which continued under the Obama administration, has proved to be a war of terror itself – and on a far greater scale than 9/11.

This war has exacted a horrible human toll on the people of Iraq. First, nearly one and a half million deaths as a result of U.S. bombing and raids going back nearly 30 years, as well as the civil war fought between different Iraqi armed gangs, some of them directly aided by the U.S. Millions of Iraqis suffering from PTSD – including, and especially, children exposed to the horrors of war. Millions more deaths, caused by spreading disease because of the destruction by the war of the Iraqi health care system and infrastructure (including a widespread lack of water, electricity and sanitation). The uprooting of one in about five Iraqis, forced to flee their homes.

And there’s a hideous cost in U.S. lives too. Nearly 4,500 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq since 2003 – about 250 of them since Obama took office. Add to this more than 300 military deaths from other countries allied with the U.S. Add at least 1,300 deaths of “contractors” used by the U.S. military (exact number unknown) – most of whom are not mercenaries but provide menial services for the army. Add tens of thousands of severely wounded U.S. troops (exact figure unknown, because the U.S. military systematically downplays war injuries and undercounts such figures). Add to all this hundreds of thousands of U.S. combat veterans who have succumbed to PTSD and depression – many of whom unable to hold down a job and condemned to homelessness.

In the hands of self-serving political and military leaders, who represent the interests of an aggressive, totally reckless U.S. ruling class, the tragedy that befell American people on 9/11 has turned into a bigger, never-ending tragedy that now plagues millions of working people around the world, including in the U.S.