Of all the broken records in the world, none may be as impressive as Rush Limbaugh and his defense of the Iraq war. On his September 5 edition of his radio program, Limbaugh vocalized that, “Iraq was not a mess. You guys made it a mess.” Limbaugh’s rant was targeted at James Carville and the media in general, since Carville had prompted the segment by an O’Reilly Factor appearance claiming that Bush’s war in Iraq was making people skeptical of Obama’s plan for Syria. Limbaugh lamented that the media “convinced people it was a mess.”
Here’s the thing Rush, it was a mess. Don’t take my word for it though. Let’s look at the facts.
<iframe class="video-embed" src="http://mediamatters.org/embed/195741" width="480" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen scrolling="no"></iframe>
Casualty-wise, Iraq was a mess. The Department of Defense has reported a total of 4,410 U.S. troop casualties alone. The same report also reported 31,935 were wounded in action alone. During Iraq and Afghanistan, there were also high suicide and sexual assault rates. We can’t put data on emotional scarring and unreported PTSD cases, but that also exists.
Financially, Iraq was a mess. Part of the case for war in Iraq was that it would be a cost-effective and efficient military operation. While the role of insurgencies and roadside bomb tactics dispersed the idea of a totally efficient military operation, the cost of the war was vastly under-calculated when it was sold to the American people. The selling estimate was that the war would cost about $50-60 billion. While not a small amount by any means, that estimate pales in comparison to the actual estimated $2.2 trillion. The $2.2 trillion was calculated by members of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, who also estimated that with interest rates, the war can end up costing $4-6 trillion. Needless to say, this played a large role in the deficit.
Furthermore, Iraq was a mess because it empowered Iran. The Iraq war was actually causal to the current mess in Syria. When Saddam Hussein was deposed, a power vacuum was created and soon filled by Iran. Iran was able to strengthen ties with and influence regional states such as the new Iraq and Syria. This was proven, much to the dismay of the U.S., when the New York Times reported that new Iraqi government allowed Iranian aircraft to use Iraqi airspace to fly weapons to Al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Yes, the regime the U.S. is likely to bomb has been supplied through a country we supposedly liberated.
Currently, Iraq is a mess. Despite the war, violence and bloodshed occur on a regular basis due to the Sunni-Shiite divide. For some reason, the war hawks of the Bush administration thought that U.S. intervention would solve a religious conflict. Just this week, 20 people were killed in targeted religious killings just outside of Baghdad and and Mosul.
Well, Rush, pick your poison. We can all debate the semantics of what constitutes a mess, but when there’s an overwhelming amount of negative outcomes, I’m not alone in thinking that this is an appropriate label. Limbaugh has his audience though. It just makes me wonder what he would call spilled milk on the floor.