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Letter to the Editor - March 29

March 29, 2013

The Iraq war began 10 years ago: What did we learn?

To the editor:

Is America better off after our war in Iraq? Is Iraq? We have a huge bill of $2.2 trillion to settle but not much else. If you choose to identify Iraq as a lesson, call it tuition. If you opposed this war from the start, like many Americans, you can legitimately express your outrage. We should have listened to Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

The numbers: 4,487 American military deaths, approximately 3,400 U.S. contractors perished, 32,226 U.S. troops wounded, 190,000 total dead, mostly Iraqis. About 900,000 veterans served during the decade of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and will receive veterans’ benefits for many years.

Did we build a better, safer, more democratic Iraq? Before the war, less than 20 percent of the population lived in slums. Now, more than 50 percent of Iraqis dwell in slums. Clean water and electricity are unreliable. Sectarian violence still occurs regularly. We ponyed up $60 billion for reconstruction and have not gotten our money’s worth. No one knows what was lost to corruption.

How did we end this “little escapade” with such a dismal outcome? We were promised an inexpensive decapitation of the brutal Saddam Hussein regime with its weapons of mass destruction. Saddam exited the stage along with more than 100,000 supporters and opposing countrymen. Cheap oil? What a joke! Have you bought any cheap oil or gasoline, lately? We have not lived long enough to read accurate history of this war. 

Neo-conservatives sold us a bill of goods. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and others marched us into this fiasco. The Bush administration swallowed the whole concept, contaminated our thinking with ideological distortion, and the rest is Bush legacy.

For our $2.2 trillion, we might have paid for a healthcare program covering everyone. Or, we could have created 4.4 million infrastructure jobs and paid each worker a $50,000 salary for a year. Money spent thusly would have circulated through the economy amplifying benefits. Instead, we threw our treasure into a black hole.

The Iraq war was wrong. We were misled with lies to further the “myth of American exceptionalism” and will forever be shamed. If Americans refuse to face the lesson, we might well repeat it.

M. Douglas Becker, M.D. 
Hagerstown

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