It was ten years ago today that President Bush, from the oval office, announced the Iraq invasion. Formal hostilities have been over for a while now, but U.S. troops are still there. As with Germany, Korea, and other countries we fought against long ago, they will likely remain there indefinitely. Here’s Gene Healy’s take on this ghoulish anniversary:
In a recent article for the New Republic, “The Eve of Destruction,” TNR’s John B. Judis describes “what it was like to oppose the Iraq War in 2003.” Lonely: “within political Washington, it was difficult to find like-minded” opponents of the war. “Both of the major national dailies — The Washington Post and The New York Times (featuring Judith Miller’s reporting) — were beating the drums for war,” as were most of “Washington’s thinktank honchos.”
Not all of them, however. In a 2001 debate on Iraq with former CIA Director James Woolsey, my Cato Institute colleague, then-Chairman William Niskanen, argued that “an unnecessary war is an unjust war” and one we would come to regret having fought.
Niskanen was right. A new report from the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University tallies up the costs: nearly 4,500 U.S. troop fatalities, an eventual budgetary cost of some $3.9 trillion and more than 130,000 civilians as “collateral damage.”
Read the whole thing. Gene also points to evidence that, partly due to the Iraq quagmire, both politicians and the public are starting to come around on the whole nation-building conceit. This is good news, but what a price to pay.