March 19 was the 7th anniversary of the U.S-led invasion of Iraq, yet it came and went without much notice in the news. In March of 2003, we had not been attacked and were in no danger of being attacked by Iraq. Yet George Bush did what he and his neoconservative friends had wanted to do for some time. He started a preemptive war to fill the coffers of American corporations, to boost his presidency, and to insure Republican hegemony for decades to come. He used the attacks of 9/11 as an excuse, lied to the American people and Congress about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, and engaged in fear mongering to whip up support for an invasion that never should have happened. Seven years later, it is good to reflect for a moment on the horrible cost of war and the waste of human life and treasure it represents.
According to Robert Greenwald the war in Iraq has cost:
- More than 4,300 American lives
- At least 95,600 Iraqi lives (some estimating more than six times that number)
- More than $747 billion in hard-earned taxpayer dollars
What the war accomplished was the removal of a two-bit dictator who was not a threat to the United States, the theft of Iraq’s oil, the massive destruction of the infrastructure of a country, the enrichment of innumerable corporate contractors who have committed massive fraud against the American middle class taxpayer, and the perpetuation of our war based economy.
When it became clear that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration switched to another bogus reason for invading—bringing democracy to the Middle East. However, in a recent survey of 180 countries, Transparency International ranked the current Iraq government as the fifth most corrupt in the world.
If the war in Iraq had not happened, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people—Iraqis, Americans, and others—would be alive today. A country would not have been looted and destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of people would not have been displaced from their homes. And what could we have done with the $747 billion? How about:
- repair our aging infrastructure,
- improve our public schools
- provide single payer health care for all
- provide decent jobs and job training
- invest in green energy
- provide broadband internet for all
- fund elections with public money
- provide a free college education for all
It is time to consider moving the United States from a war economy to a peace economy. That may sound ridiculously naïve, but envisioning what that would look like is a start.