What the Iraq War Cost Us

It's too soon to tell how the war went
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2010 1:59 PM CDT
What the Iraq War Cost Us
US Army soldiers salute during the casing ceremony for 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, the last American combat brigade to serve in Iraq, at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Aug. 21, 2010.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Anne Applebaum was an outspoken supporter of the war in Iraq. Yet as Barack Obama prepares to announce the official end of combat operations tomorrow, she has mixed feelings. “Even if violence abates, even if all American troops go home, we have still paid a very high price for our victory,” she writes in the Washington Post. Apart from the blood and treasure the war has cost America:

  • Its reputation for effectiveness: When the occupation devolved into chaos, “the overall impression, in Iraq and everywhere else, was of American incompetence.” So no wonder the US lost…
  • Its ability to form coalitions: Most of our allies paid a huge political price for the invasion, and got absolutely nothing out of it. And they'll remember it.
  • Its ability to influence the Middle East: The war has actually strengthened Iran, and raised the price of oil, making Saudi Arabia more powerful.
  • Its ability to care for its veterans: Though casualties have been low compared to, say, Vietnam, the number of soldiers who will need high-level medical and psychological care for the rest of their lives is at an all-time high.
So was it worth it? "It's too soon to tell," Applebaum decides. Determining that "is a project for the next decade, not the next week."
(More Anne Applebaum stories.)

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