US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Happy Xmas (War is over)

By Meghan Murphy-Gill | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Today marks the official end of the Iraq war. Violence still plagues the nation, and its future is tenuous. Considering the bang (and shock and awe) with which this war began, its commencement is certainly more somber.

Here are some sobering stats about the costs over the duration of the war.

Official start date: March 20, 2003
Official end date: Thursday, December 15, 2011
Length: eight years, eight months and 26 days

Total financial cost:
In 2002, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that “prosecuting a war” in Iraq would cost between $6 and $9 billion per month. In March of 2008, five years after the war began, economists calculated that it was costing us more like $12 to $16 billion per month. “By the time you add in the costs hidden in the defense budget, the money we'll have to spend to help future veterans, and money to refurbish a military whose equipment and materiel have been greatly depleted, the total tab to the federal government will almost surely exceed $1.5 trillion.”

Those same economists, nearly four years ago also wrote: “But the costs to our society and economy are far greater. When a young soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, his or her family will receive a U.S. government check for just $500,000 (combining life insurance with a "death gratuity") -- far less than the typical amount paid by insurance companies for the death of a young person in a car accident. The stark "budgetary cost" of $500,000 is clearly only a fraction of the total cost society pays for the loss of life -- and no one can ever really compensate the families. Moreover, disability pay seldom provides adequate compensation for wounded troops or their families. Indeed, in one out of five cases of seriously injured soldiers, someone in their family has to give up a job to take care of them.

“But beyond this is the cost to the already sputtering U.S. economy. All told, the bill for the Iraq war is likely to top $3 trillion. And that's a conservative estimate.”

The Pentagon says that the total cost is around $750 billion.

More than 1 million American service men and women have served in Iraq. Thats 1 million Americans for whom the rates of suicide, PTSD, The rates of suicide and PTSD are dramatically increased for veterans of war. For female vets, whose numbers have dramatically increased among homeless vets of the wars in Iraq and Afghantistan,  they “contend with the same stresses that can lead to homelessness among male veterans — brain injuries, drug and alcohol abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. But many women also contend with sexual trauma, domestic abuse and pregnancy — often while trying to raise children alone,” reports the LA Times.

The Pentagon reports that approximately 4,500 American lives have been lost to this war. Another 32,226 Americans been wounded in action.

The loss of life among Iraqis is contested, but the Associated Press, using statistics from the Iraq Health Ministry, estimates that 133,280 violent deaths have occurred as a result of the war.

Of course, this is to say nothing of the pyschological effects of the war on Iraqis, and most heart breaking, on Iraqi children.

According to The Guardian, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the cost to Americans in both “blood and treasure” was worth it.

I beg to disagree.

Happy Christmas. War is Over.