The Iraq Invasion, 20 Years Later
Authored by Chris Hedges via Consortium News/ScheerPost.com
The Iraq war cost at least $3 trillion and the 20 years of warfare in the Middle East cost a total of some $8 trillion. The occupation created Shi’ite and Sunni death squads and fueled horrific sectarian violence, gangs of kidnappers, mass killings and torture.
It gave rise to al-Qaeda cells and spawned ISIS which at one point controlled a third of Iraq and Syria. ISIS carried out rape, enslavement and mass executions of Iraqi ethnic and religious minorities such as the Yazidis. It persecuted Chaldean Catholics and other Christians. This mayhem was accompanied by an orgy of killing by U.S. occupation forces, such as the gang rape and murder of Abeer al-Janabi, a 14-year-old girl and her family by members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne. The U.S. routinely engaged in the torture and execution of detained civilians, including at Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca.
There is no accurate count of lives lost, estimates in Iraq alone range from hundreds of thousands to over a million. Some 7,000 U.S. service members died in our post 9/11 wars, with over 30,000 later committing suicide, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project.
Yes, Saddam Hussein was brutal and murderous, but in terms of a body count, we far outstripped his killings, including his genocidal campaigns against the Kurds. We destroyed Iraq as a unified country, devastated its modern infrastructure, wiped out its thriving and educated middle class, gave birth to rogue militias and installed a kleptocracy that uses the country’s oil revenues to enrich itself.
Ordinary Iraqis are impoverished. Hundreds of Iraqis protesting in the streets against the kleptocracy have been gunned down by police. There are frequent power outages. The Shi’ite majority, closely allied with Iran, dominates the country.
The occupation of Iraq, beginning 20 years ago today, turned the Muslim world and the Global South against us. The enduring images we left behind from two decades of war include President Bush standing under a “Mission Accomplished” banner onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier barely one month after he invaded Iraq, the bodies of Iraqis in Fallujah that were burned with white phosphorus and the photos of torture by U.S. soldiers.