National Security Network

Four Years Since Mission Accomplished

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Report 29 April 2007

Iraq Iraq bush military mission accomplished

Since the President declared victory, more than 3,000 American troops have been killed. The cost to the American taxpayer is approaching $500 billion – ten times what the White House estimated before the war began. Insurgent attacks in Iraq doubled between 2005 and 2006, while estimates of civilian casualties are in the hundreds of thousands. Four years into the war, the Iraqi economy is going backwards with oil production and electricity below prewar levels. Meanwhile, as the U.S. military continues to suffer under the strain of repeated deployments, Iraqi politicians have made little progress on meeting the benchmarks that are so critical for political reconciliation.

Part A: The Military Commitment

“The idea that it's going to be a long, long, long battle of some kind I think is belied by the fact of what happened in 1990. Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that . . . It won't be a World War III.” - Donald Rumsfeld, 11/15/02

America has been in Iraq longer than it was in World War II. It has been 50 months since military operations in Iraq began. As of May 1, 2007, American troops have been in Iraq for 1,504 days the equivalent of 214 weeks. [NPR, 11/27/06]

Four years after “Mission Accomplished,” American troop levels in Iraq are where they were in May 2003. There were 150,000 American troops in Iraq in May 2003. Today there are 146,000 troops in Iraq. [Brookings Institution, 4/23/07]

Source: Brookings Institution.

Part B: Costs are Rising

“Well, the Office of Management and Budget, has come up come up with a number that's something under $50 billion for the cost.” - Donald Rumsfeld, 1/19/03

The actual cost of the war in Iraq is almost 10 times the Bush Administration’s initial estimates. Roughly $450 billion have been allocated to fight the war in Iraq, with little to show for it. Once the FY 2008 funding process is complete, the cost could reach nearly $600 billion. [Congressional Research Service, 3/14/2007]

Even the White House’s most realistic analysis was far lower than the costs of the war. White House Economic Adviser Lawrence Lindsay’s "aggressive pre-war estimate, stated that the war would cost $100 billion to $200 billion. He was asked to resign. [MSNBC, 3/17/06]

Annual costs have risen every year since the war began. FY 2007 appropriations for the Iraq War are almost twice as much as what they were three years ago (FY 2004) and 2.5 times more than the costs in FY 2003. [Congressional Research Service, 3/14/2007]

A study by a Noble Prize winning economist found that factoring in the indirect costs of the war could raise the final bill to more than $2 trillion. Estimating the cost of the war ignores the value of losses in military readiness, increased recruitment costs, the cost of medical treatment for returning veterans, and even declining profits for American businesses in the region due to rising anti-Americanism. These factors suggest that the real cost of invading Iraq has been somewhere between $750 billion and $1.2 trillion and could ultimately cost as much as $2 trillion. [Boston Globe, 1/8/2006]

Source: Congressional Research Service.
Note: FY 2007 Costs reflect the President’s funding request, not the final legislation.

Part C: Violence Continues Unabated

“The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.” - Vice President Cheney, 06/05

American troop fatalities are up 33 percent. Since the escalation was announced on January 10, 2007, American troop fatalities have risen by 33%, averaging 3 per day as opposed to 2.25 per day during 2006. [Iraq Coalition Casualty Count]

Civilian casualties are in the tens if not hundreds of thousands. The United Nations estimates that 35,000 civilians were killed in Iraq during 2006 alone. No one really knows how many people have died. [Brookings, 4/23/2007]

As of the end of 2006, the rate of insurgent attacks had hit record highs. By the end of 2006, average insurgent attacks had skyrocketed to 185 per day, almost two and a half times the number of attacks at the end of 2005. [Brookings, 4/23/2007]

Despite more than four years of nearly constant combat, the estimated size of the Iraqi insurgency has actually grown. It is believed that there were between 3,000 and 5,000 insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq at the end of 2003 and beginning of 2004. That estimate has grown to more than 20,000 by the end of 2004, and has remained constant ever since. [Brookings, 4/23/2007]

Part D: Little Progress on Politics & Reconstruction

“The bulk of the funds for Iraq's reconstruction will come from Iraqis” – Donald Rumsfeld, 10/03

Little to no progress has been made on the Administration’s own political benchmarks. No progress on reversing de-Baathification, scheduling provincial elections, drafting a plan for national reconciliation, amending the constitution, or reaching a political agreement on disbanding the militias has been made. The only progress to date has been a draft oil law that passed through the Iraqi Cabinet but has not yet been voted on by Parliament and still faces significant opposition. [Brookings, 4/23/2007]

Four years later, oil production is still 15% below prewar levels. Despite the assertion that Iraqi oil production would pay for the war, production is down to 2.1 million barrels/day from 2.5 before the war. [Brookings, 4/23/2007]

Baghdad is getting only 6 hours of electricity per day – a fraction of what it was getting before the war. Without a steady supply of power businesses have suffered. The original goal was to increase electricity to 6,000 megawatts per day. Instead electricity is currently at 3,700, below prewar levels of 3,958. [Brookings, 4/23/2007]

Unemployment remains between 25-40%. For the last two years the unemployment rate has remained steady. [Brookings, 4/23/2007]

Part E: Military Strain

"As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." – Donald Rumsfeld, 12/04/04

Roughly 75% of the Army’s combat brigades have served more than one tour of duty in Iraq. Of the Army's 44 existing combat brigades, 43 have served at least one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan. Of those, 31 have had two or more tours in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, with nine having three and two doing four. An Army survey found that soldiers are 50% more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder if they serve more than one tour. [Center for American Progress, 3/2007.]

Over the past four years, more than 420,000 American troops have been deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. 1.4 million troops have served in Iraq or Afghanistan; 650,000 Army soldiers have been deployed to those nations. More than 420,000 troops have been deployed multiple times including 170,000 Army soldiers and 169,558 Marines. More than 410,000 National Guard and Reservists have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001. [Center for American Progress, 3/2007.]

The military recently extended the deployments of all Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan by 3 months. The new policy is designed to provide greater certainty to deployment schedules. However, the retroactive increase in deployment times will damage the morale of the military, hurt recruiting, and take a heavy toll on military families. As the New York Times reported, troops reacted with “outbursts of anger and frustration laced with dark humor.” [New York Times, 4/12/07.]

Stop-loss, a policy that prevents troops whose enlistment end date has arrived from leaving, has been forced upon over 50,000 troops. The current stop-loss policy is far more extensive than it has been past conflicts, acting more as a “back door draft” than as a readiness stabilization tool. [Center for American Progress, 3/2007.]