Time Melt Iraq — Day One Of ‘Bush Lied, People Died’ 20 Years Later

March 20, 2023

Today is the first day of Spring 2023, and also the 20th anniversary of the Iraqi invasion.

(Illustration: US Marines in northern Kuwait assembling to invade Iraq; photograph found here.)

How those two events combine is anyone’s guess. On March 20, 2003, the US did a bad, bad thing. And despite a shitload of people ending up dying, despite an entire region shredded to this very day (hoisted ISIS to life), despite knowledge made public that the reason for the war was based on false bullshit and straight-out lying, those who okayed the horror have escaped any accountability.
You may ask, what’s so unusual about that?

I’ve already written a couple of posts on the anniversary (here, and here), so there’s not much more to add other than to wave a red flag at the current Ukraine war — Peter Beaumont at the Guardian yesterday with a must-read piece and the 20-year set-up — the snip:

Two weeks ago, I returned from the frontline of another full-scale and brutal conflict: Russia’s war against Ukraine. Without diminishing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agency in the crimes he is committing there, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine would not have been possible without Iraq. I am not arguing that Ukraine is a direct consequence of Iraq. The moral equivalences – where they are detectable – are far more complex than Putin apologists claim in whataboutery appeals pointing to Iraq.

Meanwhile, Robert Farley at Lawyers,Guns&Money this morning also looks at the bullshit build-up to the invasion — another must-read — the nutshell of lying still being lying:

The first good argument for “Bush Lied, People Died” is that senior members of the administration consistently overstated the strength of the case that Iraq was concealing stocks of usable chemical munitions. Defenders of Bush would like to describe this as a case of forgivable rhetorical exaggeration, but there are numerous points where senior administration officials clearly describe intelligence pointing to the existence of specific stockpiles. Exaggeration, in this case, simply amounts to a different word for “lying.” Moreover, I have no doubt whatsoever that the officials who made such arguments clearly understood that they were exaggerating the extent of the evidence, even when they believed that the thing that they were describing was true and that their claims would eventually be vindicated by findings on the ground in Iraq. Lying about your confidence level in something you believe to be true is still lying.

In the history of this shit, no one notes/reports it better than Digby (aka Heather Parton) and she was there back in the day, too. A recap this morning of her blog post on this day 20 years ago is another gotta-read piece. The media build-up was a let down for the horror to follow.

And resulting bottom-line consequences:

Death/financial loss via Military Times from last Friday:

The U.S. military is about to surpass 20 years since invading Iraq, a war that has cost more than 550,000 lives, and nearly $1.8 trillion, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Costs of War project predicted the dollar amount will swell to $2.89 trillion by 2050, when factoring in the cost of caring for veterans of the Iraq war, and subsequent operations in Iraq and Syria to counter ISIS.

“The Bush administration was convinced and assured the American people and the world that the war would have few casualties of all kinds — civilian and military — and would lead to quick victory,” instead of stretching for years, said Neta C. Crawford, the project’s co-director, in a statement on the ongoing research effort from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

U.S forces invaded in 2001, toppling Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein but also unleashing an Sunni insurgency that spawned the so-called Islamic State. President Barack Obama ordered their full withdrawal in late 2011, only to send a limited force back in 2014 to battle ISIS at the request of the Iraqi government.

The dollar amount from Costs of War includes $862 billion in overseas contingency funds ? budgeted by Congress to fund the Global War on Terror after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington ? as well as $406 billion added to the Pentagon’s base budget between 2003 and 2023. The researchers added another $62 billion from the State Department, interest on the overseas contingency spending, plus $233 billion for troops’ medical and disability care and another $1.1 trillion for future veterans’ care through 2050.


The report then factors in national military and police, other allied troops, civilians and opposition fighters, using admittedly broad estimates, for an overall total of between 550,000 and 580,000 deaths.

“The difficulty in determining the total number of civilian deaths is related to whether those deaths have been documented, and sometimes whether a person is classed as a civilian/non-combatant, or if their status is uncertain,” according to the report.


PLOS Medicine estimated in 2013, based on surveys of 2,000 Iraqi households, that the U.S. operation from 2004 to 2011 resulted in more than 400,000 excess deaths. IraqBodyCount.org estimates between 180,000 and 210,000 civilian deaths since 2003, based on public record keeping.

War, what is it good for? Hasn’t changed, ever:

Yet despite the answer, here we are once again…

(Illustration out front: Salvador Dali’s ‘Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion,’ found here.)

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