More and more refugees from Bush’s ‘new’ Iraq

This 2016 video is about the refugee crisis in Iraq.

From British daily The Independent:

Number of Iraqis claiming asylum in Europe doubles

By Nigel Morris

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

The number of Iraqis fleeing to Europe to claim asylum almost doubled in 2007, contradicting claims that the country is stabilising after five years of turmoil.

Iraqis now account for the biggest national group of refugees, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reports today, and the numbers fleeing the war-torn country have almost reached the peak seen in 2002 when record numbers escaped Saddam Hussein’s regime.

In 2002, refugees did not just want to escape Saddam Hussein’s regime, but also the war of which it was clear by then that George W. Bush wanted to start it.

The total of Iraqis applying for asylum in the European Union rose from 19,375 in 2006 to 38,286 last year, an increase of 98 per cent. The largest number (18,600) headed for Sweden, which has taken the most sympathetic approach to Iraqis, with 90 per cent of those claiming refuge allowed to stay, compared with about one in eight in Britain. Iraqis now represent the largest foreign-born population in the Scandinavian country.

Greece, meanwhile, received 5,500 Iraqi asylum applications, while 4,200 claimed refuge in Germany and 2,100 in the United Kingdom. By contrast the United States reported just 734 applications.

An estimated 4.7 million Iraqis have lost their homes over the last five years, with 1.2 million living in exile in Syria and 560,000 in Jordan. UNHCR called for EU nations to do more to shoulder the burden by giving extra help to Iraq’s neighbours and resettling more refugees. Peter Kessler, a UNHCR spokesman, said: “There’s no law and order inside Iraq. People who have been displaced or gone to other countries can’t be guaranteed their homes back or that the police will protect them. They are insecure.”

For the second year the number of Iraqis topped the league table of asylum-seekers to the world’s industrialised nations. …

The UK Government has taken a robust approach to Iraqi claimants. Several plane-loads of rejected applicants have been returned to the Kurdish north of the country. The Home Office is also preparing to tell 1,400 Iraqis given temporary permission to stay that it is now safe to return to their home country. They will be warned they could be forcibly returned if they fail to go voluntarily.

Pentagon report on Saddam’s Iraq [and WMD] censored? Here.

Robert Fisk on the Iraq war: here.

Patrick Cockburn: This is the war that started with lies, and continues with lie after lie after lie.

Amnesty International about Iraq: here.

4 thoughts on “More and more refugees from Bush’s ‘new’ Iraq

  1. Message to the Meeting on “Rising Repression Against Migrants Around the World” and the briefing on the parallel events to the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Manila in October 2008

    MIGRANTE Europe extends its solidarity to the participants meeting to discuss the topic “Rising Repression Against Migrants Around the World” in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 18. This meeting comes as a side event to the 7th UN Human Rights Council Session where human rights advocates from the Philippines intend to call attention to the impunity of human rights abuses committed by the Arroyo government.

    This meeting is timely and urgent – to call attention to the situation of migrants and refugees around the world. In this regard, we quote the statement of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), during the GFMD meeting in Brussels, Belgium in July last year, that sums up the plight of migrants and refugees all over the world:

    “Majority of the foreign workers are found in industries as factory workers, in agriculture, and in the service sector, especially in low paying jobs in households,restaurants, hotels and entertainment establishments. They are subjected to the most intense anti-labor and anti-women conditions. National labor standards usually do not cover migrant workers, especially temporary migrants.Undocumented workers are criminalized. Abuse is rampant especially of women working in households and the entertainment industry.

    Immigrants in capitalist countries are also one of the first to carry the brunt of economic deterioration.They are commonly displaced from their jobs while policies for social services are made restrictive and inaccessible to majority of them. Racism, discrimination and xenophobia have also become widespread.

    Migrant workers are the first to be subjected to harsh labor and immigration policies including pay cuts, imposition of taxes, reduction of benefits and the massive arrest and deportation of the undocumented. Worse, during crisis they are scapegoated as states fan up anti-migrant sentiments among the local workforce to shift the blame for the economic hardships from the implementation of “neoliberal” globalization and the crisis of the global capitalist economy. The “war on terror” does not spare migrant workers as anti-terror hysteria makes them, particularly the undocumented, targets of racial discrimination, racist attacks and other grave human rights violations.

    Meanwhile in labor-exporting countries, migrant workers are but commodities. And in some countries, they are the main export product, used to prop up their sagging economies. Remittances have become such an integral part of the country’s survival that even a few days’ disruption in the flow of remittances can plunge the economy to even more severe socio-economic and political crisis.”

    Migrants rights are human rights, and as the topic of the meeting strongly emphasizes, rising repression against migrant workers means a rise in cases of human rights violations among migrants. As migrants and human rights advocates, we must stand in solidarity with all migrants and refugees amidst the onslaughts on their basic rights and freedoms.

    Amidst the increasing repression of migrants, there is a steady growth in strength of the resistance against repression on the national, regional and international level. Through their campaigns and mass mobilizations, migrants and their advocates are raising awareness of their repression, exploitation and above all, uniting in struggle. Their unity will find concrete expression in the launching of the International Migrant Alliance (IMA) June 2008 in Hongkong.

    We bid the participants of this meeting success and goodluck to the planning meeting of the parallel activities of the GFMD in Manila in October 2008. We see each other in Manila in October.

    MIGRANTE Europe
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    18 March 2008



    $3 trillion is just a part of the cost
    Long after the war ends, America will continue to pay a staggering price

    March 16, 2008
    Olivia Ward
    Foreign Affairs Reporter

    It takes a lot to shock the United States Congress. But when Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz tabled his calculation of the cost of the Iraq war at some $3 trillion, shock waves spread from the lawmakers to the public.

    Stiglitz, and co-author Linda Bilmes, a Harvard University government finance expert, created a perfect storm as their book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, was published during the heaviest economic squall in years.

    “People simply gasped,” says Stiglitz. “Even we were incredulous. But it seems that few people had really thought about it before.”

    But even that head-spinning figure — more than twice the gross national product of Canada — is only part of the problem of U.S. military spending.

    As the Iraq war limps toward its fifth anniversary this week, not only are its human cost mounting, its financial burden is also escalating monthly.

    The staggering $3 trillion sum has been called conservative by some critics, who say the war’s cost could reach $5 trillion. And even by the most lowball estimates, America will pay more than $1 trillion in current and future costs for a war that is driving military spending into a potential budgetary black hole.

    President George W. Bush has cut taxes rather than boosting them to pay for the increases.

    So, economists say, the financial burden will be passed on to future generations for decades to come — making it more difficult to support an aging population or vital social programs for the poor.

    With recession on the horizon, if not already in the streets, the American economy is front and centre for most voters. But so far, no presidential hopeful has taken on that rampaging elephant in the room.

    “Nobody wants to do a top-to-bottom scrub of the military budget,” says David Isenberg, an adjunct scholar at the Washington-based Cato Institute. “It’s like a cure for cancer. You’d like to believe there is one. But when you try to apply Accounting 101, the outlook is fairly pessimistic.”

    Hillary Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, advocates winding down the Iraq war but backs a strong military.

    Barack Obama, who has pledged to stop the war in Iraq and cut billions of dollars in “wasteful spending,” comes closest to tackling the massive issue. But his plans for an expanded troop level to fight the “war on terror” are moving in the other direction.

    To Republican John McCain, military spending is a priority — and he’d do more of it.

    “There seems to be a political taboo about questioning levels of military spending,” says William Hartung, director of the arms and security initiative of the Washington-based New America Foundation.

    “The Democrats, who might raise questions, fear that they’ll be labelled soft on defence. The Republicans aren’t going to ask. And if the candidates don’t tackle the military budget before the election race begins, it won’t get any easier.”

    Part of the problem is old-fashioned pork barreling. Politicians will fight cuts in their districts’ defence industries, regardless of the utility of what they are producing.

    But a more serious factor is the military mentality that began long before 9/11 and failed to subside when America walked past the ruins of its old Soviet enemy.

    “The U.S. is definitely locked into a war economy,” says Hartung, author of How Much Are You Making on the War, Daddy? A Quick and Dirty Guide to War Profiteering in the Bush Administration.

    “About two weeks of the war would cost the same as what’s spent on fighting global warming. But war spending is a kind of protected portion of the economy. The world could change dramatically, but the budget would be about the same.”

    In fact, military spending is flash-frozen by a prevailing belief that it should remain at 4 per cent of America’s GNP.

    “If the war ended tomorrow, there’d be no peace dividend,” says Hartung.

    The outgoing Bush administration has proposed a $515.4 billion budget for 2009 military spending — a post-World War II high when adjusted for inflation and an increase of 5 per cent over last year for standard Pentagon and military operations, even before billions of dollars of “supplemental” spending are rolled in.

    Supplemental requests are tabled by the president to pay for the ongoing costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as the worldwide “war on terror.” And they make the global military expenditures as hard to compute as to imagine.

    “We don’t know, and we can’t know, what the costs are until the bills come in,” says Isenberg.” We literally don’t know what we are spending money on.”

    Much of the money goes to producing and delivering battlefield equipment, some of which is a bad fit against bands of insurgents rather than Soviet-style armies.

    But spending supporters argue that feeding the military machine is a proven way of spending the country’s way out of a recession, World War II style.

    “That theory works as long as what we are doing at home has long-term value in terms of investment in America,” says Faiz Shakir, research director at the Center for American Progress.

    “The problem with the current war is that, for the hundreds of billions we’ve spent, we haven’t received any long-term investment that will last after the war. We’ve created a big defence-contractor industry, but the money could be much better used to reinvest in ways that could produce sustainable jobs. We’re on a treadmill, and we’re running in place.”

    These days, the once-almighty dollar has the clout of the old Russian ruble, as currency dealers and ordinary people flee to the euro.

    With defence spending slated to increase, and the economy shrinking rather than growing, international uncertainty is escalating.

    “It’s not possible to keep going on the current path,” says James Horney, director of federal fiscal policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and former senior official in the Congressional Budget Office. “Something’s got to give.”

    Although the deficit problem could continue for more than 20 years without a blowout crisis, Horney says, “sooner or later there are two ways it could end.”

    One is a world financial crisis if foreign investors suddenly lose confidence in the U.S. and withdraw. The other is slower, but no less deadly.

    “Accumulating big deficits is like termites eating at the foundation of the economy. You’re in a house that is falling down, but from day to day, things don’t seem much worse. Then one day, it turns to dust.”


  3. Vet in a Suit
    Testimony from the Iraq Veterans Against the War.

    By Anthony Swofford

    Posted Monday, March 17, 2008, at 6:36 PM ET

    It’s been determined that taxi drivers have the most dangerous job in Iraq, and if the Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier event this past weekend had taken place in Baghdad, my taxi driver might have gotten us both killed. Luckily, it occurred at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md. On Friday morning, as we entered the campus from the Beltway, a dozen or so protesters held signs denouncing the testifying soldiers: “WINTER SOLDIER MY ASS,” one read. Security was tight. The Montgomery County sheriff’s department operated out of a mobile unit that looked so innocuous you might have assumed they were selling corn dogs after a Little League game. But the paramilitary attire of the nearby riot-ready cops would quickly disabuse you of that notion. By the campus’ entryway stood a group of IVAW supporters acting as further security. My taxi driver tried to dodge them but got held up by a burly, middle-aged guy. “What is going on?” asked the driver.

    What was going on? Approximately 55 former members of the U.S. military were preparing to testify about the ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan–or what the IVAW consistently refers to as “occupations.” No brainchild of the Pentagon, IVAW modeled its conference after the controversial 1971 Winter Soldier event that vivified (some say fictionalized) war crimes, human rights abuses, and military waste then occurring in Vietnam. The IVAW has three unifying aims: immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, reparations for the Iraqi people, and consistent and reliable medical care for all veterans of the war. Over the course of four days, the conference planned to address the continual breakdown and failure of military rules of engagement, the long-term societal cost of the war in the form of broken families and broken minds, the drastic privatization of the war in Iraq, racism and sexism in the military, and the future of GI resistance. And with Winter Soldier, the IVAW hoped to gain more media attention for the anti-war movement.

    Entering the hall where the testimony was taking place, you might have thought you were at a “peace and social justice” conference at a Pacific Northwest liberal-arts college. Many of the audience members sported gray ponytails, and some of the security staff were members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. But most of the IVAW soldiers testifying were born after 1982. For them, the Vietnam War brings up images of Pvt. Pyle from Full Metal Jacket and Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now. Many participants of Winter Soldier 1971 had worn combat fatigues, and the event had come together catch-as-catch-can, with few resources and little polish; but Winter Soldier 2008 felt like a finely produced corporate workshop. The women I saw testify were in business attire. And while some of the men were in faded fatigues and desert boonie caps, hip-slung jeans, and hoodies, just as many wore suits or sport jackets. These are the new anti-war vets, and they know how to use image and technology to their advantage.

    Jose Vasquez, IVAW board member and president of the New York chapter, told me, “I’m interested in professionalizing the organization.” Vasquez served nearly 14 years in the active-duty Army and the Army reserve, initially as a cavalry scout and later posting as a training NCO for battle medics. It looked to me as though he’d left the barracks just hours ago. He made me–a former Marine–want to shave my unruly beard, tuck in my shirt, and knock out 20 four-count push-ups for good measure.

    Born in the Bronx, Vasquez grew up in California and signed up for the Army in 1992 at the age of 17. Now pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology, he’s a soft-spoken man who cared deeply for the Army and the soldiers he warmly calls “Joes”; he’d planned to spend 30 years serving his country. After 9/11, he would have served in Afghanistan with few reservations; but by the time his unit got the call for Iraq in 2005, he’d been having doubts not only about the efficacy of the war but about the morality of serving. As a medic, he patched soldiers’ wounds so that they could head out on another mission and kill again. After “a lot of soul-searching,” Vasquez applied for conscientious-objector status, and more than a year later he separated from the Army with an honorable discharge. When he described the day he told the men he led that he was not going to Iraq with them, Vasquez sounded remorseful and sad. He misses the Army and his Joes.

    Critics will instantly identify any soldier testifying about immoral behavior on the battlefield as a bad seed. So Vasquez implemented an exhaustive process to confirm the veracity of the testimony being offered; his title is “IVAW verification team leader.” Drawing on his background as an anthropologist, he trained 14 team members, mostly combat vets, in the verification process. Membership in IVAW was not required in order to offer testimony. “We were willing at least to take testimony from anybody, whether or not they were a member. They didn’t even have to agree with our points of unity. If you had a story to tell about Iraq and you were able to prove your service, then we would give you a venue to spread that word.” All told, approximately 140 people have come forward to offer testimony. It wasn’t possible to have everyone testify this weekend, but Vasquez vows that IVAW will give anyone with a story to tell the venue to do so.

    Clifton Hicks, a dead ringer for a young Matt Dillon, served in the Army as a tank driver and .50-caliber machine gunner from 2003 to 2004. His own testimony–among other things, he recalled watching a five-building apartment complex full of civilians being riddled with gunfire from a warplane–troubled him deeply. When I spoke to him Saturday morning, the totality of the first day of Winter Soldier was wearing heavily on him. He told me that for the first time since becoming an anti-war activist, he felt like quitting. Re-experiencing the destruction of war and thinking about friends who had died made him feel again “that I no longer cared about my life. I felt like the only way I could make things right is to just strip my clothing and walk naked back to Florida, you know. Just pay a penance or something.” A panel on Friday about the rules of engagement, Hicks said, was “hard-hitting.” During it, much of the testimony was of witness: abuse of Iraqi prisoners and detainees, indiscriminate firing in urban areas, the quick erosion of the rules as soon as someone in a unit died. As Hicks told me, “That [panel] was the personal shit, the upfront shit. I murdered shitloads of people. Not ‘I saw shitloads of people die from a distance and thought it was funny.’ ”

    Jon Turner, a former Marine and current resident of Burlington, Vt., looks like he’d be more comfortable playing footbag or Frisbee than firing a weapon. On Friday afternoon, he’d given some of the more dramatic testimony. He opened by saying, “There is a term, ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine.’ But there is also a term, ‘Eat the apple, F the corps.’ ” He then ripped off the ribbons pinned to his shirt, threw them to the ground, and declared, “I don’t work for you no more.” He had served two tours in Iraq with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion of the 8th Marines, operating in Ramadi and Fallujah. He then played a few videos he’d made while in Iraq. The first video he played was of his executive officer, after having called in a 500-pound bomb, saying, “I think I just killed half the population of northern Ramadi. Fuck the red tape.”

    Then he played video of a missile attack on a Ministry of Health building. He spoke about the standard procedure of a “weapon drop”: When mistakes are made, you drop a weapon on the innocent dead man so it appears he was a combatant. He showed photos of a man’s brain. “This wasn’t my kill, it was my friend’s,” he stated.

    When the next image of a corpse appeared on the big screens in the hall, he continued, “On April 18, 2006, I had my first confirmed kill. Ahh. This man was innocent. I don’t know his name. I call him the Fat Man. He was walking back to his house, and I shot him in front of his friend and father. The first round didn’t kill him after I hit him up here in his neck area. And afterward he started screaming and looked right into my eyes. So I looked at my friend who I was on post with and said, ‘Well, can’t let that happen.’ So I took another shot and took him out.” It took seven members of the Fat Man’s family to move his body.

    After his first kill, Turner says, “My company commander personally congratulated me as he did everyone else in our company. This is the same individual who had stated that whoever gets their first kill by stabbing them to death will get a four-day pass when we return from Iraq.”

    On Saturday, Turner and I sat outside on a bench. Some of his buddies were playing Frisbee nearby and a mutt dog named Resistance ran around on the grass, yapping among the former soldiers. Jon had a number of tattoos, nothing new for a military guy, but the ones that most interested me were the five small crosses on his left wrist, for the five KIAs of Kilo Company, and the Arabic script on his right wrist, which, he claimed, meant “fuck you.” He had this on his right wrist because, as he said during his testimony, it was his “choking wrist.” He left us all to imagine what that meant.

    Jon has shaggy blond hair and a scraggly beard and a comely, easy smile. In him, I saw the ghost of a young, sweet kid who had joined the corps because he loved his country and he wanted to help protect it. And I saw the hardened and haunted young man who spends a lot of time chasing demons he thought he’d left in Iraq, among them the Fat Man and a man who had the unfortunate luck of bicycling by Jon’s checkpoint on a day when Jon simply wanted to kill and the media embed was with another platoon, so his platoon had free rein.

    Jon has PTSD. Jon has quit drinking and smoking. He still dips tobacco, but that’s a minor thing, considering. He doesn’t do therapy–got tired of that–but he talks to his friends from IVAW, better therapy than anything. He’s started making art, and with a buddy in Burlington he makes combat paper–he reconstitutes camouflage uniforms Marines have worn in combat, turning the uniforms into paper that he binds into books. He’s writing some poetry. He’s trying to make something good from the waste that was Iraq.
    Anthony Swofford is the author of the novels Jarhead and Exit A. He lives in Manhattan.

    Article URL:


  4. Only World War II was costlier than Iraq war

    Zachary Coile, Chronicle Washington Bureau

    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    It was supposed to be a quick war and a cheap one. Five years later, 160,000 U.S. troops are still in Iraq. And the costs keep piling up – $12 billion every month – putting a strain on an already faltering economy.

    The United States has poured more than $500 billion into Iraq, mostly for military operations. But that figure is just a small piece of the much larger bill that taxpayers will pay in the future.

    Because the money for the war is being borrowed, interest payments could add another $615 billion. A heavily depleted military will have to be rebuilt at a cost of $280 billion. Disability benefits and health care for Iraq war veterans, many of them severely injured, could add another half-trillion dollars over their lifetime.

    Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University public finance Professor Laura Bilmes, both of whom served in the Clinton administration, have included those calculations in a new study of the war’s long-term costs. Their estimate of the war’s price tag: $3 trillion.

    “We are a rich country, and we can, in some sense, afford it. It’s not going to bankrupt us,” said Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor, who published the findings in a new book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War.”

    But Stiglitz said the war has contributed to a weakening economy – partly by feeding the instability that has sent oil prices to record highs – and has saddled the country with debts that will make it harder to respond to a recession, fix Social Security or meet other future needs.

    “The best way to think about it is: What could we have done with $3 trillion?” he said. “What is the best way to spend the money, either for security or for our national needs in the long run? The stronger the American economy, the more prepared we are to meet any threat. If we weaken the American economy, we are less prepared.”

    The White House has not disputed the analysis by Stiglitz and Bilmes but instead has attacked the idea that the escalating costs are a reason to withdraw.

    “We have to ask ourselves what the cost would be of doing nothing, or of ratcheting back when we’re not ready to ratchet back, in terms of making sure that Iraq does not become a safe haven for al Qaeda, making sure that Afghanistan doesn’t fall back into the hands of the Taliban,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

    The government’s own figures show the war’s costs are rising. The Congressional Research Service estimates that $526 billion has been spent in Iraq since 2003. The Congressional Budget Office calculates that spending on Iraq and Afghanistan combined will cost $1.2 trillion to $1.7 trillion by 2017.
    War cost in perspective

    In historical perspective, the Iraq conflict is already one of the most expensive conflicts in U.S. history.

    The price tag in Iraq now is more than double the cost of the Korean War and a third more expensive than the Vietnam War, which lasted 12 years. Stiglitz and Bilmes calculate that it will be at least 10 times as costly as the 1991 Gulf War and twice the cost of World War I.

    Only World War II was more expensive. That four-year war – in which 16 million U.S. troops were deployed on two fronts, fighting against Germany and Japan – cost about $5 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars.

    The latest numbers are a far cry from the cost estimates made by war supporters in the run-up to the March 2003 invasion.

    In September 2002, White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey told the Wall Street Journal the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion. He was immediately excoriated by others in the administration. White House budget director Mitch Daniels called the estimate “very, very high.” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called it “baloney.”
    Estimate revised down

    The White House and Pentagon came back in January 2003 with a number that was more palatable – $50 billion to $60 billion. Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, boasted that Iraq would pay for its own reconstruction with increased oil revenues.

    Economists say the trouble with the early estimates was they focused only on the cost of invading Iraq and then bringing the troops home. No one budgeted for a long occupation.

    “It’s quite apparent in hindsight the reason the war has been so expensive is because we have now maintained well over 100,000 and maybe closer to 200,000 troops in theater for five years,” said Steven Davis, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, who co-authored a 2003 paper comparing the cost of invading Iraq with the cost of containing former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

    “There was an active resistance in the administration to thinking about the long-term cost impacts of this decision,” said Davis, who’s now advising Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain on economic issues.

    “And it’s not just the administration. The Congress didn’t do its job. I don’t think most of the media did a good job. That period in 2002, early 2003, was not one of the best examples of American democracy in action. There’s a lot of blame to go around.”
    What war cost?

    Stiglitz, who opposes the war, sees a more concerted effort to hide the costs from the American people. Unlike previous wars – where taxes were raised to pay for the conflict – President Bush and a then-Republican Congress cut taxes. That led the public to believe they would not have to sacrifice, he said.

    “They wanted to keep the costs away from the American people,” Stiglitz said. “They realized this was a war of choice and if they told people, ‘We want to go to war and the price tag is going to be $8 trillion or $2 trillion’ – they might have said, ‘No, thank you.’ ”

    The costs of veterans’ benefits alone could be staggering. More than 1.6 million soldiers already have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 4,000 have been killed and almost 30,000 have been injured. By December, 224,000 had applied for disability benefits because of health issues, and 260,000 had been treated at veterans’ medical facilities.

    Improved battlefield medicine and better body armor have helped many Iraq veterans survive attacks that would have killed soldiers in past wars. But they are often left with multiple serious injuries.

    “It means more expensive care and more long-term care,” said Joe Violante, national legislative director of Disabled American Veterans, which represents 1.2 million veterans. “You have individuals with severe traumatic brain injuries that are going to need a lot of assistance for the rest of their lives. Whether that’s inpatient or whether it’s outpatient, it’s going to be very costly over their lifetime.”
    Toll on the military

    The war also has taken its toll on the military itself. About 40 percent of the Army and Marine Corps’ equipment – tanks, helicopters, humvees – is in Iraq, and it’s wearing out at six times the peacetime rate. Defense analysts say it could take 20 years to “reset” the armed forces. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in Washington last month, said that about half of the California National Guard’s equipment is in Iraq or Afghanistan. The Pentagon has not said when it will be returned or replaced.

    “It’s not fair to the states,” Schwarzenegger said.

    Economists have been alarmed at the growing pile of debt to pay for the war, 40 percent of which is held by foreign interests. Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs, warned Congress last month against continuing to pass on the war’s costs to future generations. He cited a recent Senate committee report showing that the cost of servicing the Iraq war debt will exceed federal spending on education and health research next year.

    “The point is that there are major trade-offs here,” Hormats testified. “Is the continued cost of the Iraq war worth the commitment of resources that potentially could be used otherwise?”

    Fatal blast: A bombing kills 43 people near a shrine in the Shiite holy city of Karbala inside one of the most secure perimeters in Iraq. A14

    Costs of the war

    — $435 million: Cost of Iraq war each day.

    — $526 billion: Cost of combat operations to date.

    — $1.2 trillion to $1.7 trillion: Estimated Afghanistan and Iraq combat costs through 2017.

    — $590 billion: Future costs of disability benefits and health care for Iraq war veterans.

    — $615 billion: Cost of interest on money borrowed to pay for the war.

    — $280 billion: Cost of replacing equipment and restoring U.S. military to prewar strength.

    — $16,500: Cost of the war to each U.S. family of four from 2003-2008.

    — $36,900: Cost of the war to each family if the war continues for 10 years.

    — $274 billion: Cost of increased oil prices related to the Iraq war, 2003-2008.
    What $435 million per day could do

    — Enroll 58,000 children in Head Start.

    — Put 8,900 police officers on the street.

    — Provide health insurance to 329,200 low-income children.

    — Hire 10,700 Border Patrol agents.

    — Give Pell Grants to 163,700 college students.

    — Provide foreclosure prevention counseling to 260,000 families.

    Sources: Estimates for combat operations costs: Congressional Research Service; Congressional Budget Office; estimates of other costs: “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes; estimates of costs to U.S. families and impact on oil prices: Joint Economic Committee, Democratic staff.

    E-mail Zachary Coile at

    This article appeared on page A – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle


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