Today is our 4,643rd day in Afghanistan.
We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing war, courtesy of Antiwar.com:
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 2,329
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,121
We find this morning's Cost of War passing through: $ 1, 544, 179, 200, 000 .00
We'll start with a brief look at Iraq this morning. Here's the latest figures regarding Iraq, from the same sources as above:
Since war began (3/19/03): 4489
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4347
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3627
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 256
Since Operation New Dawn: 66
And our costs in Iraq are currently running at $ 816,941,570,000.00
I did that just to remind us what we've bought with our blood and treasure. And looking at "going back"...there's no hearts and minds to win here; they're already lost.
Discussions of U.S. involvement in stemming the violence in Iraq are occurring amid a backdrop of highly negative views of the Iraq war, a new CBS News/New York Times poll out Monday reveals.
Just 18 percent of Americans think the result of the war in Iraq was worth the loss of American lives and other costs of attacking Iraq, the lowest percentage ever recorded in CBS News Polls. Seventy-five percent do not think the Iraq War was worth it, up eight percentage points since 2011 (just before all U.S. troops were removed), and up 30 points since August 2003.
Republicans, Democrats and independents alike view the Iraq war as not worth the costs.
As old sectarian rivalries erupt again in Iraq, some have criticized the removal of all U.S. troops from that country in 2011. Fifty percent think the U.S. should have removed all its troops, while 42 percent think the U.S. should have left some troops behind. Most Republicans think U.S. troops should have remained, while most Democrats and independents think they should have been removed.
More Americans from households with either an Iraq or Afghanistan War veteran think the U.S. should have left some troops behind in Iraq (43 percent), but they agree with Americans overall (20 percent) that the Iraq War was not worth the loss of life and other costs.
But a little public opinion never stopped Washington. If our corporate masters decide that we should be back in Iraq for fun and profit, well guess where we're going to be?
The public isn't the only ones questioning the 'value' of the mission in Iraq. At least one seems to be sharing those thoughts as well. It's a strange thing; if Congress and Corporate America is so hell-bent on re-invading Iraq....here's a plane ticket; knock yourself out.
SALEM, Mass. — Seth Moulton was one of the first Marines to enter Baghdad when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. He returned three more times, ultimately serving as a special assistant to Gen. David Petraeus.
Now, like other veterans of the Iraq war, Moulton is watching in dismay as Sunni insurgents overrun parts of the country and threaten to undo whatever gains were made.
“It’s hard for all the veterans of the war to see the country descend into chaos after we worked so hard and sacrificed so much to help the Iraqis succeed,” he said. “A lot of people are asking me, ‘Was it worth it?’”
Moulton, a Salem resident who grew up in Marblehead and is challenging incumbent John Tierney for Congress, said that question needs to be answered on two levels.
“From a national perspective, it probably wasn’t worth it,” said Moulton, a Democrat who will face Tierney in the September primary. “It’s hard to defend going into Iraq when you see what’s happening there today.
“But on a personal level,;” he added, “I signed up before the war; and when my country asked me to go, I was proud to go. I was proud to serve so that no one had to go in my place, and I still feel proud that nobody had to go in my place, so it was worth it for me personally.”
Moulton said he does not second-guess President Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq by 2011.
“This is really a political problem more than a military problem,” he said. “Many of the Iraqi forces are not well-trained, that’s true, but more than that, they clearly don’t have faith in their political leadership. The Maliki government has lost all credibility.
“When Gen. Petraeus reported to Congress on the surge, he said that militarily, it had exceeded expectations, but politically, there was a lot of progress still to make. This is exactly what we’re seeing now — that politically, the Maliki government was not ready to lead Iraq in a united way.”
Moulton said the United States should “absolutely not” send in ground troops again. He is also opposed to air strikes, which he said would kill lots of innocent people.
“It’s very hard to control air strikes against insurgents without anybody on the ground, and we shouldn’t put anybody on the ground,” he said.
Of course, there is Inside Iraq. Since we left, we've heard very little about the country in our media, except when things get blowed up. I seem to recall being promised a revived Iraq, rejoining the world economy, and becoming a tourist destination, or something like that. The fact remains that except for the inevitable gouge at the gas pump, if Iraq goes under nobody is likely to notice from an economic point of view.
WASHINGTON — The unraveling of Iraq is of little consequence to the United States in economic terms.
More than a decade after the U.S.-led invasion, Iraq’s economy remains in shambles, and two-way trade outside the oil sector remains minimal.
So disappointing is Iraq’s economy that the Heritage Foundation, the conservative research center that rates countries on its Index of Economic Freedom, is still unable to rank it. Heritage cites “political and security challenges” and notes on its website that Iraq was last ranked in 2002, when Saddam Hussein was in power.
A few marquee signs of American-style capitalism do exist in Iraq. They include a smattering of fast-food joints: McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and the like.
Citibank announced last year that it would open a branch office in Iraq. And that most iconic of American products, Coca-Cola, purchased a wholly owned subsidiary in 2011 to manufacture soft drinks in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish-controlled northern region.
But a close look at trade data shows just how little commercial activity there is outside of Iraq’s vast oil and natural gas deposits.
Because of its oil exports, Iraq enjoys a large trade surplus with the United States. Crude oil accounted for almost $13.29 billion of Iraq’s $13.3 billion in exports to the United States last year. That’s up from $8.35 billion in 2004 out of $8.51 billion in total exports to the United States.
After oil, the next largest category is artwork and antiquities. A booming rug trade has taken exports of carpets from $3,000 in 2004 to $389,000 last year. But that’s chump change in the bustling world of international trade.
U.S. exports to Iraq have grown from $856.4 million in 2004 to $2.03 billion in 2013. Military aircraft make up the largest part of that, at almost $173.5 million last year, closely followed by industrial engines at $163.8 million and aircraft engines and parts at $119.9 million.
American ranchers have done better, exporting $115.7 billion in meat and poultry products to Iraq from $15.9 million in 2004.
By comparison, U.S. exports to Saudi Arabia totaled $18.98 billion last year.
I barely touched on the human costs today....but like always, I have a mountain of stories, and plenty about the VA to look at next week.