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Harvard prof: Iraq & Afghan wars costing between $4-6 trillion


John Tirman, Nation - The United Nations estimates that there are about 4.5 million displaced Iraqis -- more than half of them refugees -- or about one in every six citizens. Only 5 percent have chosen to return to their homes over the past year, a period of reduced violence. . . . According to Unicef, many provinces report that less than 40 percent of households have access to clean water. More than 40 percent of children in Basra, and more than 70 percent in Baghdad, cannot attend school.

The mortality caused by the war is also high. Several household surveys were conducted between 2004 and 2007. While there are differences among them, the range suggests a congruence of estimates. But none have been conducted for eighteen months, and the two most reliable surveys were completed in mid-2006. The higher of those found 650,000 "excess deaths" (mortality attributable to war); the other yielded 400,000.

The war remained ferocious for twelve to fifteen months after those surveys were finished and then began to subside. Iraq Body Count, a London NGO that uses English-language press reports from Iraq to count civilian deaths, provides a means to update the 2006 estimates. While it is known to be an undercount, because press reports are incomplete and Baghdad-centric, IBC nonetheless provides useful trends, which are striking. Its estimates are nearing 100,000, more than double its June 2006 figure of 45,000. (It does not count nonviolent excess deaths -- from health emergencies, for example -- or insurgent deaths.) If this is an acceptable marker, a plausible estimate of total deaths can be calculated by doubling the totals of the 2006 household surveys, which used a much more reliable and sophisticated method for estimates that draws on long experience in epidemiology. So we have, at present, between 800,000 and 1.3 million "excess deaths" as we approach the six-year anniversary of this war.




Juan Cole - The Sri Lankan civil war between Sinhalese and Tamils has killed an average of 233 persons a month since 1983 and is considered one of the world's major ongoing trouble spots. That is half the average monthly casualties in Iraq recently. In 2007, the conflict in Afghanistan killed an average of 550 persons a month. That is about the rate recently according to official statistics for Iraq. The death rate in 2006-2007 in Somalia was probably about 300 a month, or about half this year's average monthsly rate in Iraq. Does anybody think Afghanistan or Somalia is calm? Thirty years of North Ireland troubles left about 3,000 dead, a toll still racked up in Iraq every five months on average.


Here is what America's wars have cost in 2008 dollars along with the percent of GDP, as provided by the Congressional Research Service

-American Revolution: $1.8 billion; GDP figure not available

-War of 1812: $1.2 billion; 2.2 percent

-Civil War, Union: $45.2 billion; 11.3 percent

Civil War, Confederacy: $15.2 billion; GDP figure not available

World War I: $253 billion; 13.6 percent

World War II: $4.1 trillion; 35.8 percent

Korean War: $320 billion; 4.2 percent

Vietnam War: $686 billion; 2.3 percent

-Gulf War: $96 billion; 0.3 percent

Iraq war: $648 billion; 1 percent

Afghanstian/Global war on terror: $171 billion; 0.3 percent

Post 9/11 domestic security: $33 billion; 0.1 percent

Post 9/11 operations: $859 billion; 1.2 percent

Incidentally, you may not have heard about this because despite taxpayers spending nearly $100 million a year to support the Congressional Reseach Service, these reports are not easily available. As Open CRS reports noted:

"The Congressional Research Service [is] a "think tank" that provides reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. Yet, these reports are not made available to the public in a way that they can be easily obtained. CRS reports do not become public until a member of Congress releases the report. A number of libraries and non-profit organizations have sought to collect as many of the released reports as possible. Open CRS brings together these collections to search. Unfortunately, there is no systematic way to obtain all CRS reports. Because of this, not all reports appear on the Open CRS web site."



JOSEPH STIGLITZ & LINDA BILMES, TIMES UK - The Bush Administration was wrong about the benefits of the war and it was wrong about the costs of the war. . . The cost of direct US military operations - not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans - already exceeds the cost of the 12- year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.

And, even in the best case scenario, these costs are projected to be almost ten times the cost of the first Gulf War, almost a third more than the cost of the Vietnam War, and twice that of the First World War. The only war in our history which cost more was the Second World War, when 16.3 million U.S. troops fought in a campaign lasting four years, at a total cost (in 2007 dollars, after adjusting for inflation) of about $5 trillion. With virtually the entire armed forces committed to fighting the Germans and Japanese, the cost per troop (in today's dollars) was less than $100,000 in 2007 dollars. By contrast, the Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop. . .



[From the National Security Network]

The Iraq War has cost Americans well over $1 trillion. According to a study by the Democratic Staff of Congress' Joint Economic Committee, entitled "The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War," "The economic costs to the United States of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far total approximately $1.5 trillion... That amount is nearly double the $804 billion the White House has spent or requested to wage these wars through 2008." The report also calculates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost the typical family of four more than $20,000. As the report notes, "The full economic costs of the war to the American taxpayers and the overall U.S. economy go well beyond even the immense federal budget costs already reported." Unlike previous assessments, these estimates look at the conflicts; "'hidden costs'-- including higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars." [Washington Post, 11/13/07]

Staying the course in Iraq could cost an additional $2 trillion. While the war in Iraq has already incurred a tremendous cost on American taxpayers and the American economy, staying the course in Iraq is a choice that would have huge additional costs. It is estimated that staying the course in Iraq could cost an additional $2 trillion in total economic costs, including interest payments for war-related debt payments. [Joint Economic Committee, Majority Staff, 11/07]

War in Iraq comes at significant cost to our economy. The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that the impact of funding the war on the U.S. economy occurs "at the loss of 500,000 jobs after ten years of war spending, and crimping overall economic output by $60 billion a year." Dean Baker, co-director at Center for Economic and Policy Research explained that funding the war in Iraq is "draining resources away from productive sectors of the economy... It will be more of a drag over time." Gus Faucher at Moody's explains that while interest rates are low, "they would be even lower were it now for the war." Faucher concludes that paying for the war is "going to have an impact on long-term growth, especially if this continues." Additionally, the war is diverting billions from more "productive investment(s) by American businesses in the United States." The war is also creating disruptions to the economy by pulling Guard and Reservists out of their jobs at an estimated cost of $1 to $2 billion. [CNN-Money, 10/23/07. Washington Post, 11/13/07]

War in Iraq has contributed to rising gas prices. David Kirsch, a former State Department energy analyst who now manages oil market intelligence for PFC Energy consultants in Washington, "Without this disaster, oil prices would be much lower today." The Dallas Morning News writes that, "The crippling of Iraq's oil production since the start of the war amounts to one of the biggest disruptions in world oil supplies since World War II, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy." A study by the Democratic Staff of Congress' Joint Economic Committee estimates that declining Iraqi production "has likely raised oil prices in the U.S. by between $4 and $5 a barrel." [Dallas Morning News, 11/12/07. Washington Post, 11/13/07]

War in Iraq financed by debt - America facing huge future interest costs. Reuters reported that the "wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost taxpayers a total of $2.4 trillion by 2017 when counting the huge interest costs because combat is being financed with borrowed money, according to a study released on Wednesday." The Congressional Budget Office "estimated that interest costs alone from 2001-2017 could total more than $700 billion." [Reuters, 10/24/07]

Veterans care costs will grow "putting historic strains on the Veterans Administration." Advances in modern medicine have meant that U.S. military personnel in Iraq that have been wounded are surviving at an unprecedented rate due to advances in modern medicine. Greg Bruno at CFR notes that, "costs associated with treating the wounded are skyrocketing, putting historic strains on the VA. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the agency's medical expenditures could top $9 billion by 2017, with an additional $4 billion in survivors' benefits." One expert, Linda Bilmes at Harvard, "estimates disability compensation and medical care costs could reach $700 billion over the lifetime of these soldiers." [CFR, 11/09/07]

Country must brace for a "tsunami" like surge in number of homeless vets. More and more veterans of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are turning up homeless. The Veterans Affairs Department puts the number of homeless Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at more than 400 and they are bracing for many more in the years ahead. Phil Landis the chairman of Veterans Village of San Diego, explained that, "We're beginning to see, across the country, the first trickle of this generation of warriors in homeless shelters... But we anticipate that it's going to be a tsunami." [NY Times, 11/08/07]





POLITICAL WIRE - The Bush administration is preparing its largest spending request yet for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, "a proposal that could make the conflict the most expensive since World War II," USA Today reports. "The Pentagon is considering $127 billion to $160 billion in requests from the armed services for the 2007 fiscal year, which began last month, several lawmakers and congressional staff members said. That's on top of $70 billion already approved for 2007. Since 2001, Congress has approved $502 billion for the war on terror, roughly two-thirds for Iraq. The latest request, due to reach the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress next spring, would make the war on terror more expensive than the Vietnam War."

LOS ANGELES TIMES - The White House said Thursday that it plans to ask Congress for an additional $70 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, driving the cost of military operations in the two countries to $120 billion this year, the highest ever. Most of the new money would pay for the war in Iraq, which has cost an estimated $250 billion since the U.S. invasion in March 2003. The additional spending, along with other war funding the Bush administration will seek separately in its regular budget next week, would push the price tag for combat and nation-building since Sept. 11, 2001, to nearly a half-trillion dollars, approaching the inflation-adjusted cost of the 13-year Vietnam War. . . Currently, the Defense Department says it is spending about $4.5 billion a month on the conflict in Iraq, or about $100,000 per minute. Current spending in Afghanistan is about $800 million a month, or about $18,000 per minute. 2/06


RIVERBEND, BAGHDAD - January 17, 2006 marks the 15th commemoration of the Gulf War in 1991 after Iraq occupied Kuwait (briefly) in 1990. (Or according to American terminology, after Iraq 'liberated' Kuwait in 1990.) For 42 days, Baghdad and other cities and towns were bombarded with nearly 140,000 tons of explosives, by international estimates. The bombing was relentless- schools, housing complexes, factories, bridges, electric power stations, ministries, sewage facilities, oil refineries, operators, and even bomb shelters (including the only baby formula factory in Iraq and the infamous Amirya Shelter bombing where almost 400 civilians were killed).

According to reports and statistics made by the "Iraqi Reconstruction Bureau" and the ministries involved in reconstruction, prior to the 2003 war-occupation, the following damage was done through 42 days of continuous bombing, and various acts of vandalism:

Schools and scholastic facilities - 3960
Universities, labs, dormitories - 40
Health facilities - 421
Telephone operators, communication towers, etc. - 475
Bridges, buildings, housing complexes - 260
Warehouses, shopping centers, grain silos - 251
Churches and mosques - 159
Dams, water pumping stations, agricultural facilities - 200
Petroleum facilities (including refineries) - 145
General services (shelters, sewage treatment plants, municipalities) - 830 Factories, mines, industrial facilities - 120

. . . And much, much more - including radio broadcasting towers, museums, orphanages, retirement homes, etc. While the larger damage - damage to dams, bridges, warehouses, ministries, food silos, etc. - was done by warplanes and missiles, the damage to smaller facilities was caused largely by vandalism in the south of the country and in areas like Kirkuk. . .

Immediately after the war, various ministries were brought together to do the reconstruction work. The focus was on the infrastructure- to bring back the refineries, electricity, water, bridges, and telecommunications. . . Two years and approximately 8 billion Iraqi dinars later, nearly 90% of the damage had been repaired. It took an estimated 6,000 engineers (all Iraqi), 42,000 technicians, and 12,000 administrators, but bridges were soon up again, telephones were more or less functioning in most areas, refineries were working, water was running and electricity wasn't back 100%, but it was certainly better than it is today. Within the first two years over 100 small and large bridges had been reconstructed, 16 refineries, over 50 factories and industrial compounds, etc.

It wasn't perfect - it wasn't Halliburton. . . It wasn't KBR. . . but it was Iraqi. There was that sense of satisfaction and pride looking upon a building or bridge that was damaged during the war and seeing it up and running and looking better than it did before.

Now, nearly three years after this war, the buildings are still piles of debris. Electricity is terrible. Water is cut off for days at a time. Telephone lines come and go. Oil production isn't even at pre-war levels. . . and Iraqis hear about the billions upon billions that come and go. A billion here for security. . . Five hundred million there for the infrastructure. . . Millions for voting. . . Iraq falling into deeper debt… Engineers without jobs simply because they are not a part of this political party or that religious group… And the country still in shambles.


JAMIE WILSON, GUARDIAN - The real cost to the US of the Iraq war is likely to be between $1 trillion and $2 trillion, up to 10 times more than previously thought, according to a report written by a Nobel prize-winning economist and a Harvard budget expert. The study, which expanded on traditional estimates by including such costs as lifetime disability and healthcare for troops injured in the conflict as well as the impact on the American economy, concluded that the US government is continuing to underestimate the cost of the war. . . The paper on the real cost of the war, written by Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2001, and Linda Bilmes, a Harvard budget expert, is likely to add to the pressure on the White House on the war. It also followed the revelation this week that the White House had scaled back ambitions to rebuild Iraq and did not intend to seek funds for reconstruction.

Mr Stiglitz told the Guardian that despite the staggering costs laid out in their paper the economists had erred on the side of caution. "Our estimates are very conservative, and it could be that the final costs will be much higher. And it should be noted they do not include the costs of the conflict to either Iraq or the UK.",2763,1681119,00.html


CHRIS HUGHES, DAILY MIRROR - AMERICA is to spend [about $1.7 billion] on an embassy in Baghdad "more secure than the Pentagon." Plans for the hi-tech complex are being kept secret because of the terrorist threat in Iraq. The exact location is not being released until later this year but it is likely to be built in the heavily fortified Green Zone area where the Iraqi government and US military command is based. The embassy will be guarded by 15 ft blast walls and ground-to-air missiles and the main building will have bunkers for use during air offensives. The grounds will include as many as 300 houses for consular and military officials.



KARL VICK, WASHINGTON POST - Acute malnutrition among young children in Iraq has nearly doubled since the United States led an invasion of the country 20 months ago, according to surveys by the United Nations, aid agencies and the interim Iraqi government. After the rate of acute malnutrition among children younger than 5 steadily declined to 4 percent two years ago, it shot up to 7.7 percent this year, according to a study conducted by Iraq's Health Ministry in cooperation with Norway's Institute for Applied International Studies and the U.N. Development Program. The new figure translates to roughly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from "wasting," a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein.


[Prepared by the Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy In Focus]

1. U.S. Military Casualties Have Been Highest During the "Transition": U.S. military casualties (wounded and killed) stand at a monthly average of 747 since the so-called "transition" to Iraqi rule on June 28, 2004. This contrasts with a monthly average of 482 U.S. military casualties during the invasion (March 20-May 1, 2003) and a monthly average of 415 during the occupation (May 2, 2003- June 28, 2004).

2. Non-Iraqi Contractor Deaths Have Also Been Highest During the "Transition": There has also been a huge increase in the average monthly deaths of U.S. and other non-Iraqi contractors since the "transition." On average, 17.5 contractors have died each month since the June 28 "transition," versus 7.6 contractor deaths per month during the previous 14 months of occupation.

3. Estimated Strength of Iraqi Resistance Skyrockets: Because the U.S. military occupation remains in place, the "transition" has failed to win Iraqi support or diminish Iraqi resistance to the occupation. According to Pentagon estimates, the number of Iraqi resistance fighters has quadrupled between November of 2003 and early September 2004, from 5,000 to 20,000. The Deputy Commander of Coalition forces in Iraq, British Major General Andrew Graham, indicated to Time magazine in early September that he thinks the 20,000 estimate is too low; he estimates Iraqi resistance strength at 40,000-50,000. This rise is even starker when juxtaposed to Brookings Institution estimates that an additional 24,000 Iraqi resistance fighters have been detained or killed between May 2003 and August 2004.

4. U.S.- led Coalition Shrinks Further After "Transition": The number of countries identified as members of the Coalition backing the U.S.-led war started with 30 on March 18, 2003, then grew in the early months of the war. Since then, eight countries have withdrawn their troops and Costa Rica has demanded to be taken off the coalition list. At the war's start, coalition countries represented 19.1 percent of the world's population; today, the remaining countries with foces in Iraq represent only 13.6 percent of the world's population.


U.S. Military Deaths: Between the start of war on March 19, 2003 and September 22, 2004, 1,175 coalition forces were killed, including 1,040 U.S. military. Of the total, 925 were killed after President Bush declared the end of combat operations on May 1, 2003. Over 7,413 U.S. troops have been wounded since the war began, 6,953 (94 percent) since May 1, 2003.

Contractor Deaths: As of September 22, 2004, there has been an estimated 154 civilian contractors, missionaries, and civilian worker deaths since May 1, 2004. Of these, 52 have been identified as Americans.

Journalist Deaths: Forty-four international media workers have been killed in Iraq as of September 22, 2004, including 33 since President Bush declared the end of combat operations. Eight of the dead worked for U.S. companies.


Terrorist Recruitment and Action: According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, al Qaeda's membership is now at 18,000, with 1,000 active in Iraq. The State Department's 2003 "Patterns of Global Terrorism," documented 625 deaths and 3,646 injuries due to terrorist attacks in 2003. The report acknowledged that "significant incidents," increased from 60 percent of total attacks in 2002 to 84 percent in 2003.

Low U.S. Credibility: Polls reveal that the war has damaged the U.S. government's standing and credibility in the world. Surveys in eight European and Arab countries demonstrated broad public agreement that the war has hurt, rather than helped, the war on terrorism. At home, 52 percent of Americans polled by the Annenberg Election Survey disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq.

Military Mistakes: A number of former military officials have criticized the war, including retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, who has charged that by manufacturing a false rationale for war, abandoning traditional allies, propping up and trusting Iraqi exiles, and failing to plan for post-war Iraq, the Bush Administration made the United States less secure.

Low Troop Morale and Lack of Equipment: A March 2004 army survey found 52 percent of soldiers reporting low morale, and three-fourths reporting they were poorly led by their officers. Lack of equipment has been an ongoing problem. The Army did not fully equip soldiers with bullet-proof vests until June 2004, forcing many families to purchase them out of their own pockets.

Loss of First Responders: National Guard troops make up almost one-third of the U.S. Army troops now in Iraq. Their deployment puts a particularly heavy burden on their home communities because many are "first responders," including police, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. For example, 44 percent of the country's police forces have lost officers to Iraq. In some states, the absence of so many Guard troops has raised concerns about the ability to handle natural disasters.

Use of Private Contractors: An estimated 20,000 private contractors are carrying out work in Iraq traditionally done by the military, despite the fact that they often lack sufficient training and are not accountable to the same guidelines and reviews as military personnel.


The Bill So Far: Congress has approved of $151.1 billion for Iraq. Congressional leaders anticipate an additional supplemental appropriation of $60 billion after the election.

Long-term Impact on U.S. Economy: Economist Doug Henwood has estimated that the war bill will add up to an average of at least $3,415 for every U.S. household.

Oil Prices: U.S. crude oil prices spiked at $48 per barrel on August 19, 2004, the highest level since 1983, a development that most analysts attribute at least in part to the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

Economic Impact on Military Families: Since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 364,000 reserve troops and National Guard soldiers have been called for military service, serving tours of duty that often last 20 months. Studies show that between 30 and 40 percent of reservists and National Guard members earn a lower salary when they leave civilian employment for military deployment. Army Emergency Relief has reported that requests from military families for food stamps and subsidized meals increased "several hundred percent" between 2002 and 2003.


U.S. Budget and Social Programs: The Bush administration's combination of massive spending on the war and tax cuts for the wealthy means less money for social spending. The $151.1 billion expenditure for the war through this year could have paid for: close to 23 million housing vouchers; health care for over 27 million uninsured Americans; salaries for nearly 3 million elementary school teachers; 678,200 new fire engines; over 20 million Head Start slots for children; or health care coverage for 82 million children. A leaked memo from the White House to domestic agencies outlines major cuts following the election, including funding for education, Head Start, home ownership, job training, medical research and homeland security.

Social Costs to the Military: In order to meet troop requirements in Iraq, the Army has extended the tours of duty for soldiers. These extensions have been particularly difficult for reservists, many of whom never expected to face such long separations from their jobs and families. According to military policy, reservists are not supposed to be on assignment for more than 12 months every 5-6 years. To date, the average tour of duty for all soldiers in Iraq has been 320 days. A recent Army survey revealed that more than half of soldiers said they would not re-enlist.

Costs to Veteran Health Care: About 64 percent of the more than 7,000 U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq received wounds that prevented them from returning to duty. One trend has been an increase in amputees, the result of improved body armor that protects vital organs but not extremities. As in previous wars, many soldiers are likely to have received ailments that will not be detected for years to come. The Veterans Administration healthcare system is not prepared for the swelling number of claims. In May, the House of Representatives approved funding for FY 2005 that is $2.6 billion less than needed, according to veterans' groups.

Mental Health Costs: The New England Journal of Medicine reported in July 2004 that 1 in 6 soldiers returning from war in Iraq showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, or severe anxiety. Only 23 to 40 percent of respondents in the study who showed signs of a mental disorder had sought mental health care.



Iraqi Deaths and Injuries: As of September 22, 2004, between 12,800 and 14,843 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion and ensuing occupation, while an estimated 40,000 Iraqis have been injured. During "major combat" operations, between 4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers and insurgents were killed.

Effects of Depleted Uranium: The health impacts of the use of depleted uranium weaponry in Iraq are yet to be known. The Pentagon estimates that U.S. and British forces used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of weaponry made from the toxic and radioactive metal during the March 2003 bombing campaign. Many scientists blame the far smaller amount of DU weapons used in the Persian Gulf War for illnesses among U.S. soldiers, as well as a sevenfold increase in child birth defects in Basra in southern Iraq.

Rise in Crime: Murder, rape, and kidnapping have skyrocketed since March 2003, forcing Iraqi children to stay home from school and women to stay off the streets at night. Violent deaths rose from an average of 14 per month in 2002 to 357 per month in 2003.

Psychological Impact: Living under occupation without the most basic security has devastated the Iraqi population. A poll conducted by the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies in June 2004 found that 80 percent of Iraqis believe that coalition forces should leave either immediately or directly after the election.


Unemployment: Iraqi joblessness doubled from 30 percent before the war to 60 percent in the summer of 2003. While the Bush administration now claims that unemployment has dropped, the U.S. is only employing 120,000 Iraqis, of a workforce of 7 million, in reconstruction projects.

Corporate War Profiteering: Most of Iraq's reconstruction has been contracted out to U.S. companies, rather than experienced Iraqi firms. Top contractor Halliburton is being investigated for charging $160 million for meals that were never served to troops and $61 million in cost overruns on fuel deliveries. Halliburton employees also took $6 million in kickbacks from subcontractors, while other employees have reported extensive waste, including the abandonment of $85,000 trucks because they had flat tires.
Iraq's Oil Economy: Anti-occupation violence has prevented Iraq from capitalizing on its oil assets. There have been an estimated 118 attacks on Iraq's oil infrastructure since June 2003. By September 2004, oil production still had not reached pre-war levels and major attacks caused oil exports to plummet to a ten- month low in August 2004.


Health Infrastructure: After more than a decade of crippling sanctions, Iraq's health facilities were further damaged during the war and post-invasion looting. Iraq's hospitals continue to suffer from lack of supplies and an overwhelming number of patients.

Education: UNICEF estimates that more than 200 schools were destroyed in the conflict and thousands more were looted in the chaos following the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Environment: The U.S-led attack damaged water and sewage systems and the country's fragile desert ecosystem. It also resulted in oil well fires that spewed smoke across the country and left unexploded ordnance that continues to endanger the Iraqi people and environment. Mines and unexploded ordnance cause an estimated 20 casualties per month.


Even with Saddam Hussein overthrown, Iraqis continue to face human rights violations from occupying forces. In addition to the widely publicized humiliation and torture of prisoners, abuse has been widespread throughout the post-9-11 military operations, with over 300 allegations of abuse in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo. As of mid-August 2004, only 155 investigations into the existing 300 allegations had been completed.


Despite the proclaimed "transfer of sovereignty" to Iraq, the country continues to be occupied by U.S. and coalition troops and has severely limited political and economic independence. The interim government does not have the authority to reverse the nearly 100 orders by former CPA head Paul Bremer that, among other things, allow for the privatization of Iraq's state-owned enterprises and prohibit preferences for domestic firms in reconstruction.



While Americans make up the vast majority of military and contractor personnel in Iraq, other U.S.-allied "coalition" troops have suffered 135 war casualties in Iraq. In addition, the focus on Iraq has diverted international resources and attention away from humanitarian crises such as in Sudan.


The unilateral U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq violated the United Nations Charter, setting a dangerous precedent for other countries to seize any opportunity to respond militarily to claimed threats, whether real or contrived, that must be "pre-empted." The U.S. military has also violated the Geneva Convention, making it more likely that in the future, other nations will ignore these protections in their treatment of civilian populations and detainees.


At every turn, the Bush Administration has attacked the legitimacy and credibility of the UN, undermining the institution's capacity to act in the future as the centerpiece of global disarmament and conflict resolution. The efforts of the Bush administration to gain UN acceptance of an Iraqi government that was not elected but rather installed by occupying forces undermines the entire notion of national sovereignty as the basis for the UN Charter. It was on this basis that Secretary General Annan referred specifically to the vantage point of the UN Charter in his September 2004 finding that the war was illegal.


Faced with opposition in the UN Security Council, the U.S. government attempted to create the illusion of multilateral support for the war by pressuring other governments to join a so-called "Coalition of the Willing." This not only circumvented UN authority, but also undermined democracy in many coalition countries, where public opposition to the war was as high as 90 percent. As of the middle of September, only 29 members of the "Coalition of the Willing" had forces in Iraq, in addition to the United States. These countries, combined with United States, make up less than 14 percent of the world's population.


The $151.1 billion spent by the U.S. government on the war could have cut world hunger in half and covered HIV/AIDS medicine, childhood immunization and clean water and sanitation needs of the developing world for more than two years. As a factor in the oil price hike, the war has created concerns of a return to the "stagflation" of the 1970s. Already, the world's major airlines are expecting an increase in costs of $1 billion or more per month.


The U.S.-led war and occupation have galvanized international terrorist organizations, placing people not only in Iraq but around the world at greater risk of attack. The State Department's annual report on international terrorism reported that in 2003 there was the highest level of terror-related incidents deemed "significant" than at any time since the U.S. began issuing these figures.


U.S.-fired depleted uranium weapons have contributed to pollution of Iraq's land and water, with inevitable spillover effects in other countries. The heavily polluted Tigris River, for example, flows through Iraq, Iran and Kuwait.


The Justice Department memo assuring the White House that torture was legal stands in stark violation of the International Convention Against Torture (of which the United States is a signatory). This, combined with the widely publicized mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military and intelligence officials, gave new license for torture and mistreatment by governments around the world.