Iraq War 20 Year Anniversary


The New Republic, Mar 17, 2023

Iraq was where I first saw what a malnourished wartime baby's face looks like. On a single day, I saw about a dozen of them, in the arms of women lined up on benches outside a hospital in a slum quarter of Baghdad. Shrunken like prunes, tiny caricatures of old age. These babies were starving as a result of U.S. sanctions in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, a war waged in 1991 by the first President Bush to repel Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.

That war lasted just a few weeks and ended with Bush ignoring the entreaties of neoconservatives to "finish the job" by storming into Iraq to remove Hussein. Twelve years later, Bush's son followed the neocons' bidding. "Operation Enduring Freedom" launched March 20, 2003, 20 years ago next Monday, as people around the world huddled before their TV sets to watch spectacular explosions over Baghdad. The dictator was toppled, first in statue and then in person. For years afterward, the country was occupied by the American military and soldiers sent from "the coalition of the willing"--31 motley nations, excluding most of Europe, except for the U.K.

What TV didn't show: Iraqi civilians dying like flies. Depending on which study you trust, the Iraq War caused between 110,600 (AP) and 654,965 (The Lancet) violent civilian deaths. Other estimates put the numbers somewhere in between. The United States disputes all the numbers. (Wikipedia has links to the research.)

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