In the wee hours of yesterday morning in Iraq, a convey carrying the last American combat troops pulled over the border into Kuwait. From there, those troops will head back to the U.S., thus officially ending that war. “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” the seven-year occupation of Iraq by the U.S. and its allies, has taken a terrible toll on the world.
In Iraq, up to 5 million people have been displaced from their homes, one-third of the children have been orphaned, and the fragile new government cannot provide its citizens with the most fundamental protection or services. Best estimates suggest that about 500,000 Iraqis have died as a direct result of the war. Perhaps most importantly for the entire region and the world, the chaotic new environment in Iraq now provides fertile ground for nurturing the world’s most radical terrorist organizations.
About 4,500 American troops died in the war, and over 30,000 suffered horrific injuries. A huge number of Americans who served—many of whom endured multiple deployments—have suffered serious psychological injuries. As the surviving veterans of the Vietnam war enter the last decades of their lives, many are still crippled by effects of the trauma they suffered on foreign soil. Now we have added a new generation of warriors who will struggle with the life-long symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which often include anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, drug and alcohol problems, erratic behavior, problems in relationships, and a high risk of suicide.
The entire economy of the U.S., as well as its structure of government, has been dramatically changed by the seven-year war, and direct costs to the treasury measure in the trillions of dollars.
The Iraq War and all of its effects are the legacy of George W. Bush.
This is why politics matter in America. This is why it matters for whom we cast our vote.