Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ending the Iraq bleeding

"A Rand Corporation report has revealed that 300,000 US veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. A further 320,000 have brain damage of a physical kind." SMH

The cost of the Iraq conflict continues to grow in both life and economics. I’m sure others will be familiar with the attacks on critics of the invasion back in 2003. I personally had the gall to predict another Vietnam, which was probably an optimist assessment as history unfolds.

Just US military deaths are now up to 4071, the Iraqi casualty figures are rubbery, with a median estimate around 500,000. The economics are equally alarming, with economists now estimating that $1 trillion of the $2.5 trillion in U.S. debt outstanding is related to the Iraq war.

“The rising price of oil, the growing national debt, the declining value of the dollar, the deteriorating infrastructure and the weakening economy have all been exacerbated by our "war of choice…” Financing Iraq war is taking toll on economy

Lives also hang in the balance of those domestic US figures, with the most vulnerable becoming even more vulnerable. Katrina might also simply just be a shadow the potential social disaster facing the country. Starting out with a generally low regard for welfare increased economic pressure will further isolate those most in need.

The Vietnam factor

Obviously the numbers suggest that Iraq is more costly in every aspect than Vietnam. To make it worse, the main justification (albeit generally denied), cheap oil never eventuated. But the politics is exactly the same:

Presidents throughout the Vietnam conflict were caught in a cleft stick; they could not justify continuing a lost cause, but equally could not afford to admit defeat and pull out. Raising the Vietnam spectre in 2003 has resulted in years of approbation, as the story began to unfold that original prediction was turned into accusations of willing defeat.

For other countries initially engaged the invasion withdrawing does not carry the same level of national pathos as it does in the US. Governments in Canada, Australia and Britain, for example, went into Iraq despite the clear opposition of a majority of citizens.

It should also be noted, opposition or not, the conflict never featured as a key election issue in these countries. That is contrasted with the Vietnam conflict which did feature in election losses in Australia and Canada. Iraq has not really impacted politically outside the US. Obviously there are vastly different social dynamics in play.

For me the question is; will it be a brave US president or a wise US electorate which brings an end to the Iraq obscenity?

Obama alone, among the key candidates, has promised to withdraw troops. Doubtless he will take the same approach as withdrawing countries and maintain some presence as reconstruction support, certainly acceptable to the most trenchant critics of the conflict.


TomCat said...

The initial stated intention of the Bush/GOP war for oil and conquest was to remove Saddam Hussein from power. US troops achieved that goal early on. There is no need to admit defeat, because that goal was achieved. What has failed is the subsequent occupation and attempt to install a puppet regime there to control Iraq's oil and provide bases from which to dominate the region. Rather than admit defeat, the US needs to disavow the occupation and hold the war criminals responsible accountable.

Cart said...

Tom, I will concede that I truncated the Bush justifications. The administration changed/s it’s reasoning more often than its collective underwear.
Therein, I believe, is their problem. It was only a few Months ago Bush was still promising a victory.
If they had backed off with the infamous victory claim it would have been acceptable. After all, we all believed he was trying to show his dad how to get Saddam, but that was never the reason; it was just cheap bloody oil and big money for the insiders.

abi said...

I don't see any of the US presidential candidates taking us out of Iraq completely. And as long as we're there, even if just hunkering down in our superbases, there will be attacks against us and those who stand with us.

Cart said...

Berto, your advert is inappropriate and has been removed.

Abi, I've been hearing some encouraging stories on US troops benefiting from working with some allied troops.