The Costs of the Iraq War
By Jerome Grossman
About two thirds of Americans now regard the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq as a serious mistake. The mistake was planned and organized by President George W. Bush and his administration with the help of too many Democrats who went along with his imperial fantasy. Too many Americans, carried away by superpower imperial glory, expected an easy victory at low cost.
They were wrong. Whether or not military victory will have been achieved at some future time, the costs have been high and far more than the anticipated benefits.
Some of the costs are painfully obvious. About 4,000 U.S. military deaths, about 40,000 U.S. military wounded, Iraqi insurgents and civilians killed and wounded estimated at one million; Iraqis who have fled their homes and their country to foreign lands estimated at two million; cost to the U.S. taxpayer estimated at one or two trillion dollars depending on eventual length of the war; the dramatic decline in U.S. reputation among the 1.3 billion Muslims and most nations, a decline that is harming U.S. business and diplomatic interests.
Some of the costs are less obvious. The power and influence of Iran in the Middle East has been greatly increased. The Sunni regime in Iraq that was a buffer to Iranian expansion was overthrown and succeeded by a Shiite regime friendly to Shiite Iran. If and when the U. S. military leaves Iraq, the new Shiite bloc might threaten traditional U.S. allies, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
Perhaps the most important costs to the U.S. have been the increase in the price of oil which has doubled since 2002, driven up by the Iraq war to $90-$100 per barrel. As the American consumer increases his insatiable consumption of oil and gasoline, the flow of these liquids is matched by the flow of U.S. dollars to oil suppliers.
When the oil producers were buying U.S. Treasury bonds, the effects were minimal. However, the oil royalty have modified their financial strategy by using their U.S. dollars to buy U.S. assets, taking large positions in Citigroup, News Corp., Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Pepsi, Time Warner, and Walt Disney, to name only a few. Land, real estate, and skyscrapers are also targets. And the sophisticated investors have hired prominent American bankers, media experts and Washington lobbyists to protect their interests in the U.S. This represents an historic transfer of wealth, unprecedented in human history, financial conquest without firing a shot.