Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CBSMiami) – Wednesday marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the U.S led invasion of Iraq. The war has yielded hundreds of thousands of casualties and could leave U.S. taxpayers with a bill that could eventually exceed $6 trillion, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The invasion and war was started to remove weapons of mass destruction, which actually didn’t exist, and to remove dictator Saddam Hussein from power. Since then, the nation of Iraq has been under a shaky government and forced to fight through various waves of sectarian violence.
While U.S. troops left the country in late 2011, the U.S. has thousands of personnel still in the country and countless injured veterans that will cost the government billions in future health care costs.
According to a Brown University study, the war has cost $1.7 trillion thus far with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans. The costs could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next 40 years.
The costs include at least $8 billion which essentially disappeared or was simply wasted.
The Bush administration said the war could cost as little as $100 billion initially and later raised the number as the quick start to the conflict turned into a long, hard slog through massive violence in the country.
Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz estimated in 2008 that the true cost of the Iraq War, including actual expenditures and larger economic impacts, would be roughly $3 trillion. The number was later revised upwards in 2010.
The $6 trillion price tag is equal to roughly half the current national debt. According to the L.A. Times, with Medicare spending topping out at $550 billion last year, the money use to pay for the Iraq War could fund the healthcare program for almost a decade.
Medicaid costs $250 billion, which means $6 trillion could have funded it for almost 20 years.
Iraq remains largely sectarian with the Kurdish regions in the north getting closer to looking for independence, Shiite areas in the South are booming with religious tourism, but the Sunni-dominated areas are angry over feeling disenfranchised, according to the Washington Post.
With the Shiite’s taking power in Iraq, it allowed the country to develop better relations with Iran, which was the opposite of what the United State wanted before the war. The lack of counter-balance with Iran has allowed the terrorist supporting nation to continue to pursue its ambitions with little pushback.
Along with the fiscal cost, one of the largest problems facing America is the tens of thousands of troops who will never be the same after suffering injuries, some extreme, and the families of nearly 4,500 troops who lost their lives in the war.
“Here at home, our obligations to those who served endure,” President Barack Obama said in a statement Tuesday. “We must ensure that the more than 30,000 Americans wounded in Iraq receive the care and benefits they deserve and that we continue to improve treatment for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
While Saddam Hussein was toppled, the rest of the mission has been much like the war in Afghanistan, a fight without an obvious endgame. Iraq is currently ruled by an elected government, but it’s just one large insurgency away from collapse.
“It’s a very sad situation, in my view, particularly in light of the sacrifice of so much American blood and treasure,” Senator John McCain said.
Ten years after the fact, much of the evidence used for the Iraq War has been debunked as false. Thousands of troops and their families will never be the same after fighting in the Middle Eastern country. The U.S. did topple Saddam Hussein, but many to this day ask if the cost was worth it in the end.