Bush Set To Extend Iraq War

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Four years after boastfully declaring that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, President Bush is set to veto a $124 billion Supplemental Appropriations bill that would bring American soldiers home.

“President Bush is stealing a page out of President Johnson’s 1968 Vietnam playbook by extending a war with no definable military objective,� remarked Lieutenant General Robert Gard (USA, Ret.), Senior Military Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Gard continued: “You cannot win a counterinsurgency after you have alienated the vast majority of the host nation’s population.�

“In terms of utility and the likelihood of negative repercussions, the U.S. in Iraq is now equivalent to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s,� observed Brigadier General John Johns (USA, Ret.), Board Member at Council for a Livable World. “Just as we are presently threatened by mujahadeen elements radicalized in Afghanistan, so will our children be threatened by terrorists radicalized in Iraq,� Johns concluded.

An analysis of the lack of progress in Iraq from 2003 to 2007 follows.

CASUALTIES

Since Bush’s “Mission Accomplished� speech on May 1, 2003, 3,450 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq. 3,622 U.S. soldiers have died altogether, including 1859 U.S. soldiers from May 2006 to May 2007. (Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, 5-1-07) 104 U.S. soldiers died during April 2007, capping the deadliest six-month period for American forces since the invasion. (McClatchy, 4-30-07) An additional 24,314 U.S. soldiers have been wounded since the war began, a figure that doesn’t even include a substantial number of “non-combat� injuries. Similar tragedies have befallen Iraqi civilians and trends over the past year indicate intensifying violence. Almost half of the roughly 70,000 total Iraqi civilian deaths occurred between March 2006 and March 2007. (Iraq Body Count, 5-1-07)

COST

In March 2003, the White House estimated that the Iraq War would cost around $50 billion. If you include the yet-to-be-passed Supplemental Appropriations bill and the FY2008 DoD spending request, the U.S. will have spent $564 billion on the Iraq War, 11 times the original estimate. (Congressional Research Service (PDF), 3-14-07) The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the Global War on Terror could cost $1.4 trillion by 2017, meaning the Iraq War could top $1 trillion by 2017 if it continues to consume roughly 75 percent of all War on Terror funding. (Congressional Research Service (PDF), 3-14-07)

TERRORISM LEVELS

On April 30, 2003, the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism reported that the number of international terrorist attacks decreased 44 percent and anti-U.S. terrorist attacks decreased 65 percent from the previous year. (State Department, “Patterns of Global Terrorism,� 4-30-2003) Unfortunately, the Iraq War has become, in the words of an April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate, “the ‘cause celebre’ for jihadists.� (National Intelligence Estimate (PDF), declassified 9-26-06) On April 30, 2007, the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism concluded in its “Country Reports on Terrorism� that terrorist attacks in Iraq had increased 91 percent from 2005 to 2006 and that 65 percent of global fatalities from terrorism occurred in Iraq during 2005-2006. (Washington Post, 5-1-07)

TROOP LEVELS

In May 2003, there were 150,000 U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq. (Brookings (PDF), 4-26-07) By the end of May 2007, there will be approximately 160,000 U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq, including 21,500 combat and 7,000 support personnel “surged� since January 2007. (New York Times, 3-7-07)