BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared a new dawn on Saturday as Iraq celebrated the departure of American troops at a ceremony held amid tight security and without Maliki’s key political rivals.
Saturday marked the end of the 2008 security pact agreed by then President George W. Bush and was the last day for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq, nearly nine years after the invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and allowed the Shi’ite majority to take power.
“I declare this day, the 31st of December, on which the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq is complete, as a national day,” said Maliki in a televised ceremony, surrounded by security officials in dress uniforms.
We paid a heavy price during this long occupation:
If ever there were a complete foreign policy disaster, it has been the Iraq war. Most foreign policy failures are imperfect. At least elements of the failed policy made sense at the time. By invading Iraq, the U.S. carried idiocy to perfection. The Iraq war was and remains a catastrophe for the United States in every way – strategic, economic, political and moral.
Here are some results of this idiocy:
US Troops Wounded – 32,226, 20% of which are serious brain or spinal injuries. (Total excludes psychological injuries).
US Troops with Serious Mental Health Problems – 30% of US troops develop serious mental health problems, particularly PTSD, within 3 to 4 months of returning home.
Iraqi Civilians Killed (Estimated) – On October 22, 2010, ABC News reported “a secret U.S. government tally that puts the Iraqi (civilian) death toll over 100,000,” information that was included in more than 400,000 military documents released by Wikileaks.com.
The Daily Beast, October 27, 2010, published “How the Wars Are Sinking the Economy,” an important update on the cost to Americans of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan:
“Nobel Prize recipient Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard budget guru Linda J. Bilmes are revising their original $3 trillion war cost estimate. As Bilmes reports, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are at least 25 percent costlier than previous projections—the cost of the wars will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion.”
The cost of caring for war veterans:
“Taken in context, history shows that the cost of caring for war veterans typically peaks 40 years after a conflict ends. The peak year for paying out disability claims to World War I veterans didn’t occur until 1969; the peak for paying out World War II benefits was in the 1980s, and we have not yet reached the peak cost for Vietnam veterans. Even the Gulf War of 1991, which lasted just six weeks, now costs more than $4 billion a year in veterans’ disability compensation.
The medical and disability claim patterns for almost a million troops who have returned from the wars and, based on this record, we’ve revised our estimate upward to between $600 billion and $900 billion.”
But the war was not bad for everybody. Some corporations raked in hefty profits:
From 2003-2006 alone, Halliburton’s division, KBR, Inc., bilked government agencies to the tune of $17.2 billion in Iraq war-related revenue . This is estimated to comprise a whopping one-fifth of KBR’s total revenue for the 2006 fiscal year. Thank you Mr. Cheney!
“A private equity fund, not an Exxon-Mobil, was strangely the number two profiteer in the Iraq war. However, Haliburton’s DynCorp subsidiary, a cleverly run fund, has raked in $1.44 billion.
The Washington Group International parlayed its expertise in repair, restoration and maintenance of high-output oil fields to $931 million in Iraq-related revenue from 2003-2006.
Environmental Chemical, the privately held Burlingame, California company, has stockpiled $878 million by the end of fiscal 2006 for munitions disposal.”
To sum up, my take on the invasion and occupation:
Iraqis have a new holiday. Iraq’s Prime Minister announced a new Iraqi holiday – Freedom Day, freedom from American occupation. What a price Americans and Iraqis paid for this holiday!
I think about about America…and about sacrifice. Sacrifices by 1%, but not the 1% that profited from this war, not Halliburton, not Black Water. I think about the of 1% who gave their lives for what they were told was “our freedom.””Fight for our freedom.” I think about War Criminals who sent our soldiers to invade another country. These criminals do not know the meaning of the word freedom. Their God is money.
I tried to analyze what I felt when I heard about the new Iraq’s Holiday…Anger. Anger at those who pushed our country into this devastating war. Anger at the cowards who sent our soldiers to die for their egos and profits, cowards like Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz. Anger at our buffoon president – George W. Bush.
I feel angry that the opportunists, the war-profiteers and buffoons who are both war criminals and just simple criminals, have not and are not being prosecuted. I feel angry at the media which continues to have criminals like Cheney appear as “experts” on their shows. I am angry at the current President who did not have the guts or even attempt to prosecute the people who are responsible for hundreds of thousands dead and crippled Iraqis and Americans. I am angry and sad that war profiteers like Halliburton made record profits paid with out tax dollars and our economic well- being and our soldiers’ blood.
I am sad that this illegal war devastated thousands of families in our country and in Iraq. I keep asking myself how could it happen in America, in a democracy? How did Americans allow this war?
I think it is Fear…Fear masterfully injected in our consciousness by those who really rule America – The Industrial-Military Complex and their puppets.
I feel shame thinking about fallen soldiers and their families – “you are fighting for our freedoms” – they were told, “you fight them over there, so that we do not have to fight them over here”, “you fight for your loved ones”.
Liars and criminals!
You started this war out of greed and cowardice. 1% of Americans sacrificed everything and for what? So that the other 1% will profit from this war.
How painful is it for the injured soldiers, how painful is it for the devastated families, for children who lost their parent?
I wonder if they keep asking quietly and hopefully.