Five Years and Counting

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As of today, March 20, the debacle that is the war in Iraq has now dragged on for one two three four five years. How many more years will I have to begin an article on this date with those words?

I really don’t know what else can be said about this war. It is immoral, aggressive, unjust, unconstitutional, unscriptural, unnecessary, wasteful, and pointless. It has made more terrorists and more enemies of the United States than Osama bin Laden could make in ten lifetimes. It was based on a mountain of lies, misrepresentations, and manipulated intelligence. It was the worst possible response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It “may well turn out to be,” according to Lt. Gen. William Odom, former director of the National Security Agency, “the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.”

As long as this war continues, there are more than years that we will be counting.

When I wrote about the war on its third anniversary, 2,317 American soldiers had already been killed. When I wrote about the war last year on its fourth anniversary, the total number of dead American soldiers had risen to 3,218. As I write about the war on this its fifth anniversary, that number has now increased to 3,992. How many wasted American lives will it take before the American people say enough is enough? It took almost 60,000 in Vietnam.

We can continue to count the cries of grieving family members who have lost or will lose a father, a son, a husband, a grandson, a nephew, or a brother. Unfortunately, it is also true that some will instead lose a mother, a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, or a sister. It is bad enough to lose someone to a disease, an accident, or a natural death, but I can’t think of anything worse than losing a loved one who was fighting in some senseless foreign war. There will be no comfort in the knowledge that one’s loved one died for his country for a noble cause. Every soldier who died (or will die) in Iraq died for Bush’s legacy, the warfare state, the military-industrial complex, and the U.S. global empire. They all died for a lie.

Even as America sinks deeper and deeper into a recession, we can also continue to count the incredible cost of this war. The trillion-dollar defense budget doesn’t include the cost of fighting the war in Iraq (or the forgotten war in Afghanistan). We have already spent over half a trillion dollars on the war. The total cost of the war is now expected to exceed $3 trillion. The budget of the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2008 included $141 billion for the “supplemental” budget to wage the “global war on terrorism” plus $93 billion to fund the war for the remainder of fiscal year 2007. Regardless of all the other reasons not to fight this war, we simply can’t afford to spend the $10 million or so an hour that it costs to fight it. Ending the war would be the greatest “stimulus package” the government could ever provide to the American people.

One thing we can try to count, but probably won’t be able to, is the lies of presidents, congressmen, political appointees, journalists, pundits, talking heads, radio talk-show hosts, military brass, and, sadly, evangelical leaders, when it comes to justification for the war. A new study just released found that Bush and top officials in his administration issued hundreds of false statements about the threat from Iraq in the two years following the 9/11 attacks. You can see them all here in their context and with their source referenced. Stay tuned: more lies to follow.

Will U.S. troops still be in Iraq after five more years? If John McCain has his way, we only have ninety-five more years to go. If that sounds unthinkable, just remember that we still have troops in Japan, Germany, and Italy even though World War II ended in 1945.

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