In recent days, Jeb Bush has decided to focus his campaign on Iraq. Earlier this week he pinned the blame for the current instability in the country on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Speaking at a national security forum yesterday in Iowa, Jeb Bush asserted that “taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.”
In his remarks, Bush also refused to rule out the use of torture as an interrogation tactic and mimicked his brother’s famous declaration, saying that the “mission was accomplished.” Many of the architects of the Iraq War are currently advising Jeb Bush on foreign policy.
Jeb’s remarks appear to be another shift on his assessment of the war. Early in the campaign he said that, knowing what he knows now, he would still have launched the Iraq War. Then he claimed he misunderstood the question and it would be a disservice to families of the fallen. Under heavy criticism, he switched his position, saying, “I would not have gone into Iraq.” By saying the ouster of Saddam — and, by extension, the Iraq War — was a “good deal,” he appears to be reverting back to his initial position.
But just what was the cost of the Iraq war?
More Than 4,424 American Lives
Counts vary but according to the Department of Defense there have been at least 4,424 U.S. military fatalities connected to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Watson Institute at Brown University notes that “[o]fficial Pentagon numbers do not include the many troops who return home and kill themselves as a result of psychological wounds such as PTSD.”
There is no centralized reporting but, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, hundreds of Americans — including contractors and U.S. military — were killed while involved in reconstruction efforts.
About 319 Coalition Lives
As part of the Iraq invasion, George W. Bush assembled a small “coalition of the willing” which included the UK and a few other countries. About 319 people from those countries died in the Iraq war.
More Than 115,000 Iraqi Lives
Iraq Body Count, a UK based group that aggregates news reports, morgue records and other data, estimates that 115,000 civilians were killed as a direct result of violence. A group of public health researchers, taking into account indirect causes of death, estimates that about 500,000 Iraqis died as a result of the war.
More Than $1.7 Trillion
The Iraq war has cost American taxpayers $1.7 trillion in direct expenses. It owes an addition $90 billion in benefits to war veterans. Ultimately, expenses could grow to more than $6 trillion, including interest.
Zero Weapons Of Mass Destruction
The public justification for the Iraq war was to eliminate the country’s weapons of mass destruction. Despite searching for years, the U.S. did not find any such weapons.