Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The cost of the Iraqi conflict

Recently the U.S. military’s official death toll in Iraq reached 1,500 soldiers. To see their names and photos (when available) go to: There has been a U.S. Department of Defense ban on media coverage of the U.S. troops’ bodies returning from conflict since the previous Bush Administration’s Gulf War. This helps to keep the public’s mind off of the negative side of war, or the “3 Ds”: death, destruction and dismemberment. Admittedly, it is easier to advert public scrutiny of the legality of a war if we are reminded less of its cost and casualties.

The monetary cost of the Iraq conflict, despite original projections by the administration, has surpassed $200 billion and with Bush’s newest request of an additional $80 billion, is rapidly approaching $300 billion. Bush’s Fiscal Year 2006 Budget for the Department of Defense is a record high of $419.3 billion (a 41 percent increase since 2001), and doesn’t include the per annum cost of operations in Iraq (demonstrated to be between $100 billion to $150 billion).

Instead, Bush will petition Congress for additional emergency funding on an as-needed basis. Aside from being a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money, the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq is also illegal by international and domestic standards.

Although the president has the power to send troops to places in which there is an imminent threat to national security (War Powers Resolution of 1973), he does not have the power to declare war. That is an exclusive power of Congress (Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution). While Congress did, in fact, approve of the use of force by providing funding for operations, it has not declared war since World War II.

So all of the talk about being a nation at war and supporting the war effort is bunk. There must be no special concession made to the federal government as a result of the so-called state of war. There is no war in Iraq, there is a U.S. occupying force in Iraq. At nearest definition, it could be called the Iraq conflict. However, this distinction did not deter the U.S. government from sending over 8.7 million young Americans to Vietnam during the Vietnam conflict (another U.S. military operation erroneously referred to as a war), 58,000 of which died.

With no end in sight, the violence rages on in Iraq. We currently have about 110,000 soldiers stationed there. The total U.S. wounded in action is over 11,500. The news media purports that U.S. deaths have decreased (55 in January 2005, 41 in February 2005, 31 in March 2005), claiming a winding down of the insurgence.

However, the same kind of trends can be seen throughout the span of the conflict. Seventy-three were killed in November 2003, 25 in December 2003, 35 killed in January 2004, 12 killed in February 2004. There’s hope, right? No, 33 were killed in March 2004, followed by 127 soldiers in April 2004. There is no winding-down. Some analysts contend that the average life span of an insurgency in the region is roughly 10 years. We are in the dawn of this insurgence.

But enough about U.S. troops, what about the other guys? The Iraqi people, remember them? The U.S. Department of Defense has not provided a report for the public on this issue. Neither have any of the other coalition members taken it upon themselves to make an accurate count, but modest estimates of the civilian casualties in Iraq number between 17,000 and 20,000 people.

One of the best online sources for the civilian death toll in Iraq is, which compiles news reports and official reports from several sources, including Iraqi morgues, to tally their figures. The Web site also quotes General Tommy Franks of U.S. Central Command as saying, “… We don’t do body counts …” The reports of Iraqi civilians wounded are even more sketchy, ranging between the moderate 100,000 to a wild, yet plausible, half million plus.

Could this be correct? Is this justice and freedom at work? According to a recent Reuters News article by Luke Baker, insurgents, terrorists and Iraqi criminals have killed about 6,000 Iraqi civilians since 2003. This means that U.S. and Coalition Troops have killed at least two to three times as many Iraqis, in the same two-year period. Is it surprising that we are known as the bad guys in their neighborhood?

This war was supposed to be about Weapons of Mass Destruction, but there were none. It was supposed to be about liberating the Iraqi people, but they are prisoners of violence. It was supposed to be about stopping the spread of terror, but our president said, “Bring ’em on.” It makes me ashamed to be American.

T. James Hanaburgh was a Collegian columnist. Check out his blog at


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *