Sunday, January 27, 2008

One price of the Bush and Cheney superpower stunt

On September 11th, 2001, after Osama bin Laden had unleashed attacks on the United States, the death toll of Americans and other nationalities killed in those attacks stands at 2,974 and 24 missing.

That the United States would suffer further casualties as it went after the perpetrators of those attacks was something of a foregone conclusion. However, when George W Bush decided to execute plans to invade Iraq, nobody counted on this.

The US has suffered more than 72,000 battlefield casualties since the start of the war on terror in 2001, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The query by the campaigning Veterans for Common Sense organisation shows that 4372 American soldiers have died and another 67,671 have been wounded in action, injured in accidents or succumbed to illness in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The veterans' group had to force the US Defence Department to release the figures by persuading judges to uphold their FoI rights.

A second request to the Veterans' Administration, the government-funded body responsible for taking care of ex-servicemen and women, showed 263,909 soldiers with experience of the two 21st-century wars have so far received treatment for everything from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the aftermath of amputated limbs.

It also showed 52,375 veterans had been diagnosed with PTSD and 34,138 have received approval for disability claims for the psychological disorder. As of October 31 last year, 1.6 million Americans have been deployed overseas since 2001.

That's just American casualties. It doesn't even touch on the countless thousands who have died while the Bush administration laid waste to their country.

Keep in mind, the Pentagon made an effort to withhold those figures. But there's another one.

Harvard University estimates the cost of caring for Iraq and Afghan veterans over the next 40 years will amount to between £125bn and £350bn [$250bn and $700bn], depending on the long-term effects of trauma.
Cathie pulls up another cost which the neo-cons never figured into their grand adventure: gross unpopularity and a country so weakened that recovery may involve decades of reconstruction... and pain. And there's no guarantee that Americans will be willing to endure what it takes to find a place in the world again. Right now they are the object of universal scorn for giving the world one of the worst presidents ever.

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