With as little fanfare as possible, the American military has exited Iraq after nine years of unrelenting war. There was no banner heralding "Mission Accomplished."
Perhaps a banner reading "Mission Impossible" would have been appropriate, or one that read "Mission to be Continued," since more that 15,000 American military and civilian personnel will remain in Iraq to staff and protect the Green Zone embassy, the largest American foreign embassy in the world.
Meanwhile, several reliable analysts have calculated the human costs of the war: More than 4,480 American troops killed; approximately 32,200 suffered debilitating injuries; civilian Iraqi deaths conservatively estimated at more than 100,000; and at least one million Iraqi citizens permanently displaced from homes and country.
None of these statistics, of course, measure the incalculable grief and loss suffered by combatants and their loved ones on both sides of the trenches.
As for the financial costs of the war, the numbers are equally staggering.
America has spent $824 billion in Iraq, large amounts of it stolen, and the massive expenditure will continue into the unforeseeable future. The estimated cost for ongoing medical treatment for our troops and for replacement of military hardware is $4 trillion.
These facts about the costs of our war are for Iraq alone and do not include the costs of our ongoing venture in Afghanistan, where we have already spent more than $4 billion
As many wise men have observed, war is the consummate sign of the failure of our humanity. It seems that we have yet to learn that hard lesson, preferring instead to wield our swords (read: drones and missiles) rather than turn them into ploughshares.
John F. Desmond