The Iraq Inquiry Report (2009-2016) documents how Tony Blair committed Great Britain to war early in 2002, lying to the United Nations, to Parliament, and to the British people, in order to follow George Bush, who had planned an aggression on Iraq well before September 2001.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard conspired with both reckless adventurers, purported ‘to advise’ both buccaneers, sent troops to Iraq before the war started, then lied to Parliament and to the Australian people. He continues to do so.
Should he and his cabal be charged with war crimes? This, and more, is investigated by Dr George Venturini in this outstanding series.
The bloody cost and legacy of the invasion (continued)
Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, it looks like the ‘war on terror’ is still in its opening act.
An early 2016 poll found that more than 90 per cent of Iraqi youth now consider the United States an ‘enemy’ of their country.
The Islamic State, which was largely a consequence of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and which might have been financed by Saudi Arabia, now controls vast swaths of territory in Iraq, as well as in Syria, and Libya, and has demonstrated an emboldened capability to orchestrate attacks in Europe. Despite the lack of progress, the last 15 years of war have come at a horrific cost.
The U.S. lost nearly 4,500 service members in Iraq – 2,300 in Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands were forever damaged. Those figures do not include at least 6,900 U.S. contractors and at least 43,000 Afghan and Iraqi troops who lost their lives.
The death toll in the countries that the United States attacked remains untallied, but conservative estimates range from the hundreds of thousands to well over a million. Add to that the hundreds of people tortured in U.S. custody, and thousands killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Somalia, everywhere.
The financial cost of the ‘war on terror’ is almost incalculable but runs into the trillions of dollars.
One has heard of the US$640 toilet seat and other ridiculous examples of Pentagon ‘overspending,’ but such stories tend to trivialise the abuses by the military-defence contractors whose entire industry is built on providing overpriced solutions to made up problems. After all, the Pentagon itself just admitted it could cut US$2 billion from its budget by shutting down some of the needless bases and defence facilities which have been built around the globe in the name of America.
In the 15 years since 9/11, US$1 trillion has been spent building up the police state in the American ‘homeland’ itself.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Department has been spending over US$ 600 billion per year maintaining the American military in the post-9/11 era. US$4 to US$6 trillion was spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars alone, the most expensive wars in American history.
Combined defence spending, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, State Department, defence related debt interest and other defence costs, has reached the highest levels in modern history over the past decade. From a Cold War era high in the 1980s of US$3,500 for every man, woman and child in the United States to a 1990s low of US$2,500, that figure has since breached US$4,000.
There are other figures one could add here: – the billions upon billions in military aid sent to the co-perpetrators of the war of terror, including the US$38 billion which has been promised Israel over the next 10 years; – the US$1.5 trillion joke known as the F-35 fighter jet; – the US$6.5 trillion of “year-end adjustments” in the ongoing, never-ending saga of the Pentagon’s missing trillions. After 15 years the only winners in the war on terror have been the contractors.
At home, the war on terror has become a constitutional nightmare in the United States, which has adopted a practice of indefinitely detaining terror suspects. Similarly, civil liberties are daily eroded in Great Britain and Australia. In the 2016 U.S. presidential campaigns, torture became one party’s applause line, in no small part due to President Obama’s failure to prosecute the architects of the Bush-era torture programme.
All of this foreshadows a war which could stretch 10, 20, or 50 more years – the governments of Great Britain and Australia remaining silently complicit.
The real cost of the ‘war on terror’ is to be searched elsewhere, and there is no way of calculating the loss to the civilian population.
The real cost is paid in blood: the blood of a million dead Iraqis, the blood of the hundreds of thousands murdered men, women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the blood which is being shed right now in Syria, in Libya, in Yemen, and in all of the countries which have found themselves in the crosshairs of the American forces.
It is measured in the devastation of towns and cities which once bustled with life, in the families torn apart by drone bombings, and in the havoc of the hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes, leave their families and their homeland and their former life behind as everything they knew is torn to shreds.
It is measured in the blood of the servicemen and women themselves, who were lied to, propagandised and indoctrinated their entire lives, given a ticket out of grinding poverty by the military, shot up with experimental vaccines and shoved into the meat grinder for tour of duty after tour of duty. In most cases, upon returning home, they are left to rot in rundown hospitals and ignored by the glad-handing politicians and their military-industrial cronies as a suicide epidemic gradually thins their ranks.
Tomorrow: The bloody cost and legacy of the invasion (continued)
Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini – ‘George’ devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. In 1975, invited by Attorney-General Lionel Keith Murphy, Q.C., he left a law chair in Chicago to join the Trade Practices Commission in Canberra – to serve the Whitlam Government. In time he witnessed the administration of a law of prohibition as a law of abuse, and documented it in Malpractice, antitrust as an Australian poshlost (Sydney 1980). He may be reached at George.Venturini@bigpond.com.