In 2003, George, W Bush decided to invade Iraq, using the excuse that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Both the UK and Australian government supported him in the invasion.
The cost of this invasion was the death of not only thousands of Iraqis but also of thousands of Americans who went into the war believing that they were stopping a larger scale terrorist act from taking place.
On 15 February 2003, in the UK one million protestors in Britain marched against the war. They were not happy with the impeding conflict in Iraq, but were also not convinced by the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could literally be activated within 45 minutes.
There were also protests in Melbourne, where around 150,000 joined a demonstration. Protests also took place in Sydney against the invasion at the time.
Despite the worldwide protests, the war took place. According to the Iraq body count, up to 180,000 civilians have died in different types of conflicts that followed the invasion. The death toll, including combatants exceeds 250,000. The country has continued to be in a state of war since the invasion in 2003.
The biggest amount of killing took place on 19th of March, as people, transfixed to their screens watched the bombing of Baghdad. The sky flashed orange and golden, terror was ripe left right and centre with bodies piling up. The victims were not just the soldiers that went into the fight, knowing they may not come back. But also everyday people such as shepherds, fishermen, construction workers, children and housewives.
US military tried to downplay the number of Iraqi casualties. However, their own casualties stepped around 4576 US troops. The unnecessary loss of life both for Iraq and US was one that could have been avoided.
When the war started in 2003, the economy of Iraq was already in shambles due to having gone through a 8 year war with Iran and the gulf war. When the war officially ended in 2011, with president Obama declaring the withdrawal of the troops, a deeply traumatised country was left behind with a totally bankrupt economy.
Economists say that Iraq’s poverty rate may have gone up from 20% to 30% or more in the last year. What does this mean? Literally around 12 million Iraqis are currently living below the poverty line.
The exceptionally harsh measures that took place after the 2003 invasion left Iraq weakened in every sense of the word. A lot of Iraq’s money got paid to US contractors to implement local projects, a lot of which were actually never finished, some were drowned in corruption whilst others were taken in open theft. There were no checks and balances on the contractors and money was just chucked away. In2009, there was around 13,000 contractors employed by US agencies according to societies without borders.
Iraq now faces threats to human rights, human dignity and life. The development of resources and services is non-existent, food is scarce, poverty is high as is unemployment. This has led to the country not being able to develop to its full capacity.
The US also had a divide and rule policy between Shia’s and Sunnis. For the most part, before the war the Sunnis and Shias lived side by side as neighbours, friends and even married amongst themselves. After the war, US empowered a new shite ruling class led by former exiles allied with the US – this deliberate action of dividing and ruling led to waves of horrible sectarian violence including ethnic cleansing and huge amounts of death.
So, in conclusion the war in Iraq had devastating effects. Not only were millions of Iraqs and USA soldiers killed, thousands of Iraqis were forced to leave their broken country and to seek safety and security elsewise. This was not a safety net for them as further difficulties and abuse were faced here.