Winston Churchill’s comments on Iraq still relevant today

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The US-supported Maliki government has rejected the US proposals for a long-term presence in Iraq, saying that it would infringe on Iraqi sovereignty. In particular, Maliki doesn’t want the US to be able to use Iraqi air space or territory at will (like, for an attack on Iran) and he objects to the immunity from Iraqi law that the US wants for our troops and contractors. Of course, Maliki has no choice: — the anti-American Shiite militia controlled by Moqtada al-Sadr is threatening to revolt if the deal is accepted, the religious community is opposed to it, and poll after poll shows that the Iraqi public thinks we have overstayed our welcome.

In our book we predicted this would happen: just by following the money trail it is obvious that the expensive bases the US has constructed in Iraq were built with a view to long-term US occupancy.

Thus the US faces a situation not dissimilar to that of Britain after World War I, when the British were trying to maintain military control of Iraq in the face of Sunni and Shiite opposition.

This calls to mind Winston Churchill’s statement to David Lloyd George on September 1, 1922:

I am deeply concerned about Iraq …. I think we should now put definitely, not only to Feisal but to the Constituent Assembly, the position that unless they beg us to stay and to stay on our own terms in regard to efficient control, we shall actually evacuate before the close of the financial year. I would put this issue in the most brutal way, and if they are not prepared to urge us to stay and to co-operate in every manner I would actually clear out…..

At present we are paying eight millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano out of which we are in no circumstances to get anything worth having.”

(Many thanks to Ret. US Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor of the Center for Defense Information for finding this quote.)

Iraq war injuries multiply the cost of war

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The number of US troops wounded in Iraq continues to escalate rapidly — and as it does, the cost of the war goes up too.

Here’s an example: on June 8th, a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a small US patrol base in the northern province of Tamim — killing one soldier, and wounding 18 others soldiers.   This pattern has occurred throughout the war.

The consequences are far-reaching.  Not only are 18 troops wounded,  but dozens of others who witnessed the bloody attack and narrowly escaped injury will suffer from shock, trauma, guilt, stress, anxiety , insomnia, and other problems.  Remember — these troops were not even out on patrol, they were inside their own supposedly safe barracks in a residential neighborhood.   According to recent studies, about one-third of these soldiers will end up suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  Some will also  be diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury from the force of the blast.

So a suicide bombing that killed one soldier will cause dozens if not hundreds of veterans to seek costly medical treatment and to claim disability compensation.  This helps explain the numbers to date:  4094 deaths, 60,000 wounded or injured; 330,000 seeking medical treatment from the Veterans Department.

The cost of providing this medical care (at military hospitals, veterans hospitals, clinics, and outpatient facilities) and the cost of paying disability stipends to these veterans and their dependents will be a strain on the US budget for decades to come.