Although the last base will not be handed over until December 31st, the US military announced the end of its mission in Iraq today. According to the NYT story, more than one million Americans served in Iraq over the past nine years, of whom 4,487 died and 32,226 were wounded. As is typical, the story does not enumerate Iraqi casualties, which are estimated at 100,000 to 1,000,000 depending on the survey and definition (of which only some 20,000 are estimated to have been combatants). The estimates published in the Lancet are particularly noteworthy for being peer-reviewed, and for their findings: 600,000 excess violent deaths because of the war (here meaning from the invasion through 2006). Other highly regarded estimates place the figure at a much lower 150,000 violent deaths through 2006. The population of Iraq is estimated at around 30 million, so somewhere between 1 in 300 and 1 in 30 are estimated to have died because of the war. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are over 1.6 million Iraqi refugees living abroad and around 1.3 million internally displaced persons, for a total of about 10% of the country’s population.
The war cost the US approximately 3-4 trillion dollars, according to a Brown university estimate, including over $700 billion in direct Pentagon spending, plus interest costs, veterans benefits and health care and so on. Economist John Quiggin uses the logic of opportunity costs and cost-benefit analysis to argue that the US could have saved 1.5 million lives instead of spending the money it did on the war (and the war in Afghanistan).
I don’t know how else to end this post, except to say:
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.