Cost of the Iraq War: 3,699 U.S. military deaths, $450 billion

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118720043922970.jpg’, ”, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118720046922309.jpg’, ”, ‘U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo‘);
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StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118720038523015.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘At least 3,532 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq since May 1, 2003, when President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq.‘);
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At least 190,000 U.S. military weapons missing in Iraq

Though no man picks his birth

Nobody he’d be tied

and for it he must hold the line

I guess some men been born to die

cause livin’ wasn’t up to them

So though we’re all born as brothers

living just to kill each other

This is the glory of war…

—The Redwalls

(De Nova, 2005, Capitol Records)

Think whom you elect to office and what they do in the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and White House doesn’t affect you?

Although the U.S. government’s case for invading Iraq in March 2003 was Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and chemical and biological weapons, no such weapons have ever been found.

As recently as Aug. 9, President George W. Bush reaffirmed his commitment to the operations in Iraq: “There’s a lot of work to be done, and the fundamental question facing America is, is it worth it, does it matter whether or not we stay long enough for an ally in this war against radicals and extremists to emerge? And my answer is it does matter. Long-term consequences will face our country if we leave before the job is done. How the troops are configured, what the deployment looks like will depend upon the recommendations of David Petraeus [United States Army general and commander of Multinational Force-Iraq].

“I recognize there’s a debate in America as to whether or not failure would cause there to be more danger here in America,” Bush added. “I strongly believe that’s the case. It matters if the United States does not believe in the universality of freedom. It matters to the security of people here at home if we don’t work to change the conditions that cause 19 kids to be lured onto airplanes to come and murder our citizens.”

None of the 19 Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers was Iraqi—they came from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. The attacks were organized by al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who is still at large.

Bush, soon to become the official “vacation president,” delivered his Aug. 9 remarks the day he left for summer vacation. Current record-holder for presidential vacation time is Ronald Reagan, who tallied 436 days in his two terms. With 17 months left in his presidency, Bush is already at 418 days.

Military casualties and financial impact

At least 3,699 members of the U.S. military have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, including at least 3,532 who have died since May 1, 2003, when Bush landed on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and—under a sign reading “Mission Accomplished”—declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq. More than 30,500 U.S. troops have been wounded or killed. Countless others have returned home with long-term psychological damage.

The Aug. 13 announcement of the death of Sgt. Andrew Wayne Lancaster, 23, of Stockton, is the latest in a list of soldiers from the area who have lost their lives in Iraq. According to, 130 members of the military from Illinois have lost their lives in Iraq, including the following: Lance Corporal Branden P. Ramey, Boone, Nov. 8, 2004; Lance Corporal Andrew G. Patten, Byron, Dec. 1, 2005; Lance Corporal Jonathan W. Collins, Crystal Lake, Aug. 8, 2004; First Lt. Brian D. Slavenas, Genoa, Nov. 2, 2003; Lance Corporal Neil D. Petsche, Lena, Dec. 21, 2004; Private First Class Collier Edwin Barcus, McHenry, July 8, 2004; Sgt. Joshua A. Terando, Morris, Nov. 10, 2005; Sgt. Jessica M. Housby, Rock Island, Feb. 9, 2005; Specialist Brandon Jacob Rowe, Roscoe, March 31, 2003; Private Scott Matthew Tyrrell, Sterling, Nov. 20, 2003; and Private Christopher M. Alcozer, Villa Park/DeKalb, Nov. 19, 2005.

Illinois ranks eighth in the country in military deaths in Iraq; California has 395, Texas 336, Pennsylvania 171, New York 161, Ohio 156, Florida 150 and Michigan 139.

As of Aug. 15, the U.S. military had been in Iraq for 1,608 days—about 262 days more than it was involved in World War II.

The war has cost the United States nearly $450 billion (see chart, “Budget Authority for Iraq War,” page A7)—more than was spent in the Gulf War ($81.2 billion), World War I ($203.4 billion) and the Korean War ($358.5 billion); almost as much as was spent in the Vietnam War ($527.6 billion); and far less than was spent in World War II ($3,091.5 billion).

Before the war, White House Economic Adviser Lawrence Lindsay estimated the cost of the war at $100-$200 billion.

According to the National Priorities Project (, which estimates the cost of the war per community, the Iraq War has cost Rockford nearly $238 million. Based on a population of 150,115, that means the cost of the war for each Rockford resident is about $1,585.45.

Congress's role in the war

Our own congressman, U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-16), voted for the Iraq Resolution in 2002 that authorized the invasion of Iraq. Among presidential candidates, representatives Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) were the only two to vote against the Iraq Resolution, while representatives Duncan Hunter (R-Calif) and Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) and senators Joe Biden (D-Del.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), John Edwards (D-N.C.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted for the Iraq Resolution.

Manzullo has often voted to fund the war—including voting Aug. 5 for the Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act, 2008, and voting May 17 for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.

According to, the DOD Appropriations Act would cost the average American $1,479.75 while the National Defense Authorization Act would cost the average American $1,918.66. Both would provide funding to the military.

The only presidential candidate to vote against the appropriations bill was Kucinich. Hunter, Paul and Tancredo did not vote, and the bill has yet to be voted on in the Senate. Kucinich and Paul voted against the National Defense Authorization Act, while Hunter and Tancredo voted for the act, which also has yet to be voted on in the Senate.

Manzullo recently voted against House Bill 3159, which passed the U.S. House 229-194 Aug. 2 and would give U.S. troops guaranteed time at home between deployments in Iraq. Among presidential candidates, Kucinich and Paul voted for the measure, Hunter and Tancredo against it. The bill has yet to be voted on in the Senate.

March 23, Manzullo voted against a war spending bill (H.R. 1591) that would’ve required combat operations in Iraq to cease before September 2008, or sooner if the Iraqi government did not meet certain requirements. The bill, which would’ve provided $124 billion to finance military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of 2007, passed the House 218-212 and the Senate 51-47 before being vetoed by Bush April 1.

Regarding H.R. 1591, Manzullo said in a statement: “I believe an ‘emergency’ bill to fund troops and equipment should not be weighed down by unrelated spending nor used as a vehicle to micromanage the war effort. This bill should focus on taking care of our men and women in uniform and their equipment, not charging taxpayers an extra $21 billion in non-emergency programs, such as $25 million for spinach growers and $74 million for peanut farmers. General Petraeus was unanimously confirmed by Congress to lead our troops in Iraq, and his judgment should not be second-guessed now by the same Congress. I have consistently supported funding our troops while they’ve been deployed, and after they’ve faithfully served our country, I will continue to do so.”

Among presidential candidates, senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Clinton, Biden and Dodd voted for the bill, while representatives Hunter, Kucinich, Paul and Tancredo and senators Brownback and McCain voted against the bill.

The revised war spending bill (H.R. 2206), which did not include a withdrawal deadline but instead “benchmarks for progress by the Iraqi government” and $

100 billion for funding of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, passed the House 221-205 May 10 and the Senate 80-14 May 24. Manzullo voted against the bill. Presidential candidates Biden and McCain voted for the bill; Hunter, Kucinich, Paul, Tancredo, Clinton, Obama and Dodd against; and Brownback did not vote.

190,000 missing weapons

According to a recent report by the independent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. military has lost 110,000 AK-47 rifles, 80,000 pistols, 135,000 pieces of body armor and 115,000 helmets that were given to Iraqi security forces. It’s feared many of these weapons are in the hands of Iraqi insurgents.

The GAO abstract report reads: “Since 2003, the United States has provided about $19.2 billion to develop Iraqi security forces. The DOD recently requested an additional $2 billion to continue this effort. Components of the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), including the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), are responsible for implementing the U.S. program to train and equip Iraqi forces. …

“MNF-I does not currently have orders that comprehensively specify accountability procedures for equipment distributed to the Iraqi forces. DOD and MNF-I cannot fully account for Iraqi forces’ receipt of U.S.-funded equipment. Two factors led to this lapse in accountability. First, MNSTC-I did not maintain a centralized record of all equipment distributed to Iraqi forces before December 2005. At that time, MNSTC-I established a property book system to track issuance of equipment to the Iraqi forces and attempted to recover past records. GAO found a discrepancy of at least 190,000 weapons between data reported by the former MNSTC-I commander and the property books. Former MNSTC-I officials stated that this lapse was due to insufficient staff and the lack of a fully operational distribution network, among other reasons. Second, since the beginning of the program, MNSTC-I has not consistently collected supporting records confirming the dates the equipment was received, the quantities of equipment delivered, or the Iraqi units receiving the items. Since June 2006, the command has placed greater emphasis on collecting the supporting documents. However, GAO’s review of the January 2007 property books found continuing problems with missing and incomplete records. Further, the property books consist of extensive electronic spreadsheets, which are an inefficient management tool given the large amount of data and limited personnel to maintain the system.”

War and record deficits, escalating debt

As shown by the chart “How Congress Spends Your Money,” page A7, the DOD, which provides funding for the war in Iraq, has a 2007 budget of $580 billion—third only to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration. Comparatively, the Department of Transportation—largely responsible for the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, evidenced by the Aug. 1 collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis that left at least eight dead and more missing—has a budget of around $3 billion. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, partly responsible for dams and levees (such as the levees in New Orleans that broke during Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and the deteriorating Alpine Dam in Rockford that almost made the Aug. 6-7 flood even worse), has a budget of less than $1 billion. At least 1,836 lives were lost in Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent floods.

The chart “Yearly U.S. budget deficit or surplus, 1961-present” (above) shows how President George W. Bush has failed to balance the budget every year in office, except for his first in 2001. Bush inherited a record $236 billion surplus in 2000, which he quickly dropped to a $128 billion surplus in 2001 before recording deficits of $158 billion in 2002, $378 billion in 2003 (a record, breaking his father’s 1992 record of $290 billion), $413 billion in 2004 (a new record, breaking his own), $318 billion in 2005 and $260 billion in 2006. As of 2006, Bush’s net deficit is $496 billion over six years, nearly all of which were under a Republican-controlled Congress. His $496 billion net deficit is a new record, breaking his father’s $135 billion deficit from 1989 to 1993.

Former President Bill Clinton (D) had a record net surplus of $526 billion over eight years, becoming the first president to record a net surplus since Richard M. Nixon (R), who was in office from 1969 to 1974.

All this war and deficit spending has pushed the national debt—which has increased at an average of $1.33 billion per day since Sept. 29, 2006—to an estimated more than $9 trillion. Each citizen’s share of the debt is $29,463.73, which is just $8,203.27 less than Rockford’s median household income.

from the Aug 15-21, 2007, issue

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