IRAQ: US casualties top 20,000

May 10, 2006

Doug Lorimer

By the end of April, total US troop casualties in Iraq had topped 20,000, with at least 2401 killed and 17,648 wounded since the US-led invasion in March 2003. April was the deadliest month for US troops this year, with 70 killed, up from 31 in March.

While the Pentagon states that there are 132,000 US troops deployed in Iraq, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that total US troop deployments for the Iraq war, including providing support in Kuwait and other Middle Eastern countries, is nearly double that number — 260,000.

The Knight Ridder Newspapers agency reported on April 28: "If Congress passes the emergency spending request that's before the Senate, the cost of military operations since the 9/11 terrorist attacks will top $439 billion, with $320 billion of that for the Iraq war alone, according to a report this week by the Congressional Research Service.

"Even with a significant reduction in US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next several years, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that total war spending could top $811 billion by 2016.

"For comparison, the 1991 Persian Gulf War cost about $89 billion in today's dollars, while the Korean War cost $455 billion and the Vietnam War cost $655 billion, according to Steven Kosiak, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent policy research group in Washington."

A US congressional inspection team set up to monitor reconstruction in Iraq published a scathing report on May 1 of failures by private contractors, mainly from the US, to carry out projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The detailed and lengthy report was written by Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. Bowen's office was set up after the US Congress expressed concern about the slow rate of reconstruction and the misuse of funds on a massive scale. Congress has approved $21 billion for reconstruction since the US-led invasion, of which 67% has been allocated. Last year the congressional team reported that almost $9 billion in Iraqi oil revenues disbursed to US-supervised Iraqi ministries had gone missing.

The inspection team found that three years after the invasion only six of 150 health centres proposed for Iraq had been completed by a US contractor, in spite of 75% of the $186 million allocated having been spent. The report stated: "Fourteen more will be completed by the contractor, and the remaining facilities, which are partially constructed, will have to be completed by other means."

Revealing how the "fully sovereign" Iraqi government remains a puppet of the US occupation forces, the April 28 US News reported that several "US diplomats will serve as unofficial advisers to Iraqi prime minister designate Nouri al Maliki to help him create a transition team and prepare him to assume the top post once he assembles a cabinet. The team will include officials from the US embassy in Baghdad, along with James Wilkinson, a key aide to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice."

Wilkinson, it reported, stayed behind in Baghdad after the joint visit by Rice and US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld on April 26, five days after Maliki was appointed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani as the country's new PM.

US News added: "Washington does not want to be seen as meddling in Iraqi politics, but the Bush administration is clearly eager to see Iraq's next government get up and running quickly. Maliki has announced that he wants to form his government by early May, but the constitutional deadline appears to be May 22. More US advisers might come in from outside Iraq in the coming days to assist the transition."

From Green Left Weekly, May 10, 2006.
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