The Iraq war cost $3 trillion dollars and accounts for a large amount of our national debt.
The Bush administration systematically underestimated the cost of the Iraq war. Instead, ahead of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and shortly afterward, “a number of officials, including former Defense Secretary Donald and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz suggested the war could be done on the cheap and that it would largely pay for itself.”
Instead, as Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has documented, the Iraq war is “The Three Trillion Dollar War.”
I believe precisely because the Iraq and Afghanistan wars cost so much in terms of American lives and dollars, drone warfare is very appealing. Drone warfare can seem particularly attractive to Americans, as the use of these automated weapons is presented as “cheaper,” more efficient, and “saves American lives.” This tempts us to make war because it is cheap, easy and seems to pose little risk.
David Cortright, the Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, has argued persuasively that this is exactly what is immoral about drones: they are a “license to kill.” “Any development that makes war appear to be easier or cheaper is deeply troubling. It reduces the political inhibitions against the use of deadly violence. It threatens to weaken the moral presumption against the use of force that is at the heart of the just war doctrine.”
“Easy and cheap” are not words you should apply to engaging in the horror of war. And war is always a horror. War is, as General William Tecumseh Sherman famously said, “hell.”
If you want to keep losing your soul, continuing to march down the road to the “hell” of war is a way to do that. Drone warfare is war.
I also believe that the Iraq war helped create more terrorists.
As the Iraq war unfolded, it became clear to more and more analysts by early 2005 that it was providing terrorists with “a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills,” according to David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats in a CIA briefing. “There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries.”
We often say in the peace movement that you “create the enemies you need.” In truth, this is what happened as the United States pursued the Iraq war as a war of choice. We created more enemies instead of reducing the threat to our nation from terrorism.
It’s time for rigorous self-examination.
Ten years is a long time and it is long past time for the people of the United States, and our leaders, to engage in self-examination in how we got to such a state that we are willing to unilaterally attack another nation, engage in torture, deceive about the pretext for war, and count the real costs, morally, fiscally and geopolitically.
That is the path to healing the national soul and resisting the temptation to make these same mistakes over and over again.