Reflections on Katrina, 10 years later

hlward:

I wish I had something profound and hopeful to write about Hurricane Katrina and the City – the people – of New Orleans. It’s been ten years now, and I’ll be damned if I can find anything to reflect on that doesn’t make me feel ashamed of my country.

I could go through the litany of ways every level of government failed our brothers and sisters in New Orleans, but what would be the point?

Instead I think I’ll tell you some things I’ve learned since August 29, 2005.

– Every major city in America is a short series of official mistakes from being part of the “Third World.” Your comfortable suburb and mine could look just like the Lower Ninth Ward if just a few bad things happen. The question is, will your state and the federal government send help for you? Or will CNN show up first and make you and your home the next iconic image of helplessness and despair? Let’s be clear: The United States government has the capacity and resources to save you and your family – and probably a lot of your stuff – if whoever is in charge when the shit hits the fan makes you a priority.

– New Orleans is now the “Third World.” George Bush did not prioritize the families of New Orleans, and they have not recovered. They will not recover. New Orleans will never be “The City That Care Forgot” again. Yeah, New Orleans had its problems before Katrina. Not like this.

– When disaster strikes, if your leaders consider /for one moment/ how their actions will affect their political careers, people will die. You might die. Ray Nagin, Kathleen Blanco and George Bush are case studies in this respect. And no, political leaders do not always act like those fools did. Great leaders prove themselves in time of crisis. The people of New Orleans were not fortunate enough to have one single great leader in the long chain of government officials.

– New Orleans is doomed. That’s something I used to think was part of the charm … you always knew disaster was right around the corner, but you hoped you’d have time to finish your drink before the reaper showed up. And if you didn’t have time you were pretty sure you could get a go-cup anyway. At least that’s the way /I/ always felt. The reality isn’t romantic or charming at all. The reaper won’t let you bring a go-cup. You will stand in line at the SuperDome with no food or water or you will camp in the August sunshine on the remains of an asphalt bridge. It’s going to happen again. We know now that the People In Charge knew very well that the levees would break before the levees broke. And we know that that they will break again when the next storm comes. We know that despite the best efforts of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi River wants to reroute itself many miles West, far from the city. When those things happen, the devastation will be complete.

– It doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to put people ahead of profit. We can say “no” to the idea that “Government should be small enough to be drowned in a bathtub.” We can take care of each other and we can all prosper. But if we choose to allow some to prosper and leave the rest to fend for themselves … we can all end up like our brothers and sisters in New Orleans.

Maybe that’s the closest thing I can find to “hopeful” in the wake of Katrina. We can do better. Will we? I can’t tell your that.

samanthaimperiatrix:

2005 was a big year for me. I became a mother, and I got married for the first time. Watching the horrors unfold in New Orleans fell as I held my infant son, and put the final touches on the wedding. I saw the images of the people in towns on their roofs, the houses completely envelloped in water, and the residents clinging for some shred of dignity.
“How can this be happening here? Aren’t we a big important country? Isn’t there more we can do? Or could have done?”
I tried to mentally block out the blame that passed around from agency to agency over the next months, but in some sense they were all guilty. They all failed those people in some way. Living in coastal Florida my entire existence, I cringe at the thought that we could be next. The next horrific images and stories you see on the news next of an American city underwater could be mine.
Shortly there after, people from the Biloxi area transferred to my work, because they were now out of jobs, and had nothing to go home to. I made friends with some, and they told me their stories.
There was no media embellishment there. They were as bad as you imagine.


Seyyal Edibe:

In 2005, my family and I were living in Germany, where I was working for the Army. We had been there since 2002, but I had not managed to “settle in” and feel at home there. It was like I was on an extended vacation, except I had to work … a lot. A by-product of that is I felt like I was living in some netherworld: I didn’t really fit in in Germany, but I wasn’t in the U.S. either. We were finally able to get Sky TV out of the UK after almost a year, so we could watch English-language TV, but it was British TV. We had CNN, but it was CNN International. The only American news feed we had was Fox News. I know.

I still remember that day. Germany is 6 hours ahead of East Coast U.S. so that in itself can be disorienting. I want to say we found out about Katrina from CNN International. It was a nice, sunny day in Germany, which isn’t exactly the norm, even in August. So I turned to Fox to get the “hometown version.”

All I can say is that it was surreal. I was seeing Katrina through the eyes of a “foreigner,” but at the same time not: I had attended Loyola for a semester and a summer, and had been stationed there for 3 years. I knew East Bank from West Bank. Algiers. Ninth Ward. The French Quarter. The CBD. New Orleans East. Crescent City Connection. The Huey P. Long Bridge. My husband and I sat there in disbelief: watching how one of the most famous cities in the U.S. had devolved into little more than a Third World country. I sat there and watched while Shepard Smith (who’s from Mississippi, BTW), was actually /screaming/ on TV that people were dying on the Crescent City Connection because people were on the Gretna side of the bridge standing there with guns, threatening to shoot them if they even tried to enter Gretna for food and water. And another meltdown as he reported how children were being sexually molested in the SuperDome that had become a makeshift shelter for those who were unable to leave New Orleans for a myriad of reasons.

I sat there and watched the coverage hour after hour. Horrified, but unable to change the channel. Because somehow, I felt it was my /responsibility/ to watch this, so when I went back out into the community, I could attempt to explain to the Germans I regularly interacted with “our” side of the story. I watched people sitting on the roofs of their houses, which was the only thing above the water line, shooting at National Guard helicopters trying to rescue them. I listened while they described how old people in nursing homes had never been evacuated because there was no evacuation plan, so they just died in place. How people in hospitals were dying because there wasn’t sufficient auxiliary power to keep their life support systems going, or any coherent mass evacuation plan. How New Orleans police were breaking into luxury car dealerships and taking cars because “the police cruisers [were] underwater” or they “needed SUVs to navigate the flooded streets.”

All of a sudden “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” stopped being the battle cry of committed partiers and more a declaration of “We’re a bunch of clueless, careless idiots.”

And we won’t even discuss Mayor Ray Nagin surveying the devastation in designer suits and declaring New Orleans would arise as a “Chocolate City!”

alethiam:

I went to the coast of the panhandle after Katrina brushed by Florida. I was with two friends, and the normally clear water was murky with stirred up sand (and god-knows-what else). We could see there had been a storm surge. The usually brilliant white sand was covered with rotting dead fish and a few dead sharks. The smell of death and the dark, but gentle, waves of the Gulf were ominous. I took some photos of the beach, but not of the death or destruction. I’m not sure why.

I remember being relieved when I heard Katrina was only a Category 3 as it made landfall over the coast to the West of me. I had studied photographs of New Orleans before and after Camille, and thought the city would be spared a little.

And then, the levees broke. I hadn’t foreseen that. I had to go over to a friend’s house to watch TV, and the images and witness reports were horrific.

A year later, I found myself in New Orleans. We drove around the city, curious to see how it was recovering.

Parts of the city seemed unscathed. But right next to a beautiful home, there would be a house, boarded up, with spray paint on it, informing all it was too be demolished. The city was discombobulated. It was trying, but next to every effort were ashes or ruins.

We kept driving, and ended up in a middle class neighborhood. Something seemed amiss, though. It was evening, and there were no cars on the road or in the driveways. No lights were on inside the homes. There were no people walking on the sidewalk. I looked from my right to my left. To my right, there were houses. To the left, there was water that was higher than the houses.

All of this must have flooded. No one lived in these houses anymore. They were ruined. It was such an eerie, spooky feeling. The lake to the left of me no longer seemed scenic. The water, calm in the evening sun, was suddenly cruel; it was a destroyer of lives and dreams.

Some links I’ve found interesting:
Race and Recovery 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina
A Katrina Lexicon

Enough of the “Impeach Obama!” nonsense

President Obama’s past few weeks have been pretty dismal. The Benghazi tragedy has garnered increased attention, so the White House released associated emails to quell accusations of a cover-up; subsequently and to the administration’s benefit in this matter, it was discovered that a Republican staffer had doctored an email; then McClatchy reported that Ambassador Stevens turned down two offers for increased security one month prior to the attacks. It was also revealed that the IRS had been targeting conservative social welfare groups requesting tax-exemption, though that is looking increasingly more like ineptitude, lack of resources, and the absence of clearly defined parameters for determining 501(c)(4) tax-exemption rather than outright politics. Then it came to light that the Department of Justice had been spying on reporters’ emails at the Associated Press.

Republicans are crying foul, they are mounting numerous congressional hearings, and some are even tossing about the “I” word–impeachment. Of course, this is hardly the first time Republicans have called for impeachment since Barack Obama took office. Some have even wanted to impeach him because they were, and still are, convinced he is not an American, and therefore his presidency is illegitimate. They refuse to drop theBirther” conspiracy no matter how many times President Obama’s birth certificate has been released to the public or how often Hawaiian officials testify to the veracity of said document.

More Americans might take these Obama “scandals” seriously, except for the fact that there was silence from these same quarters in the wake of the George W. Bush administration scandals. Some examples from the Bush-era include:  Alberto Gonzalez and the U.S. Attorney firings; the Abu Ghraib prisoner torture and abuse scandal; the NSA warrantless wiretapping program; IRS targeting of the NAACP in 2004 and a Pasadena Church in 2005 for criticizing various Bush administration policies; the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame after her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times refuting Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein had sought to obtain uranium from Africa (Niger); torture and indefinite detention; and the list goes on.

If none of the above Bush administration scandals warranted impeachment, risking the lives and futures of American soldiers and their families as well as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis by lying and manipulating evidence in order to justify a war in Iraq certainly was an impeachable offense. (See Iraq Ten Years Later: The Cost of America’s War of Choice for more details of the consequences of Bush’s preemptive war.) Sadly, cowardly Democrats aided and abetted this travesty.

Numerous misrepresentations were fed to Americans about Saddam Hussein’s WMD capabilities. Two are highlighted below:

  • “The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program … Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.” George W. Bush (This has been proven to be false; the aluminum tubes were not capable of uranium enrichment.)
  • “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” George W. Bush (See Joseph Wilson’s op-ed above.)

What is so confounding about the GOP Benghazi obsession is their almost maniacal outrage over the death of four Americans. While no death is acceptable, where was/is that same level of outrage over the nearly 4,500 American soldiers killed in Iraq? It seems Republicans’ anger is terribly misplaced when comparing these two situations. Understanding this, their relentless pursuit to find a scandal related to Benghazi reeks of politics.

When wrongdoing is uncovered, yes, it should be investigated and the guilty parties held responsible. This post is not condoning any Obama administration wrongdoing but merely pointing out the hypocrisy surrounding all the hype.  So please, those calling for it, stop with the “Impeach Obama!” nonsense.

Cross-posted at The Feisty Liberal

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Leaving Children Behind

President George W. Bush, with bipartisan support, signed into law No Child Left Behind.  The purpose was clear.  It was supposed to place the focus on  education, and raise standards, so that our children continued to enjoy the greatest educational system in the world.

Contrary to being a federal program, there would be no national achievement standard.  Standards-based assessments were to be devised and implemented by individual states.  In exchange, they would receive federal funding to achieve goals.  Also, any state school accepting Title I funds would need to meet AYP (Annual Yearly Progress).  This meant demonstrating improvement, yearly.  For example:  4th graders would perform better in 2010 than 4th graders in 2009.  State participation was not mandatory.  However, states would lose federal monies if they chose not to participate.

Supporters of NCLB claimed that it would increase accountability of schools and teachers.  They believed standardized testing was great for measuring student performance.  It was also believed that it would increase parental involvement, with notifications of unqualified staff and more detailed report cards.

That was 2001.  Where are we today, and how has NCLB worked?

Poorly, I’m afraid.  We no longer teach our children to think.  We “teach to the test”.  Our children can fill in beautiful bubbles, it’s true.  They are encouraged to become masters of memorization.  But this is not learning.

Is it the teachers, the actual test, or the inclusion of disabled student’s scores?  Who or what can we blame?

It is virtually impossible to place blame on any one part of this, because there is no national standard.  We are guaranteed that our children will be instructed by “highly qualified” teachers.  Yet, each state determines what that means for them.  States develop their own assessments.  Even with all the sovereignty, they are manipulating scores.   The National Center for Fair and Open Testing revealed cheating in 37 states.  Yes, 37 states. 

The people we trust to teach our children are cheating.  Lower scoring children are being reported as absent on test days.  The thumbs up or down method is being used to hint at correct or incorrect answers.  And, in some cases, incorrect answers are brazenly erased and the correct response filled in.

Ah…state sovereignty!  Why the cheating?  You create your own tests, so just lower the standards.  All the cool kids are doing it.

Texas (Yep, Texas) reduced the number of questions that students must get correct, after many got almost no answers right.  Michigan reduced the number of students who must pass statewide tests, from 75% to 42%.  Colorado chose to lump pupils who were “partially proficient” in with the “proficient” group.

As a Harvard graduate, President Obama speaks, eloquently, of education reform.  He says, “And I want to say the goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable, and President Bush deserves credit for that.  Higher standards are the right goal.  Accountability is the right goal. Closing the achievement gap is the right goal.  And we’ve got to stay focused on those goals.  But experience has taught us that, in it’s implementation, No Child Left Behind had some serious flaws that are hurting our children instead of helping them.”  Agreed.

He continues, “This does not mean that states will be able to lower their standards or escape accountability.  In fact, the way we’ve structured this, if states want more flexibility, they’re going to have to set higher standards, more honest standards, that prove they’re serious about meeting them.”  I am sorry, Mr. President, but I have to disagree with you on there.  States have proven, time and time again, that they will lower standards, escape accountability, and they will do these things dishonestly.

In all fairness, what else would they do?  With our economy still hung over, each state needs federal funding desperately.  And, since we are speaking of honestly, No Child Left Behind is…LEAVING CHILDREN BEHIND!!  It was an admirable goal.  But it did not work.  It will not work.  We are falling farther back.  It has, in fact, caused more harm than it ever did good.  Valerie Strauss sums it up, beautifully.

“Do we want to be a decent society or a decadent society? Do we want to nurture, protect and inspire all of our children? Do we want children who are leaders or followers? Do we want to make sure that this generation of young people is prepared to sustain our democracy? Do we want citizens prepared to ask questions or just to answer questions posed by authorities?

Surely the greatest nation in the world can mobilize the will to do what is right for the children. It won’t be easy, it won’t be cheap, and it won’t be fast. Doing the right thing never is. The only simple part is to recognize that what we are doing now is not working and will never work. What we need is a vision of a good education for every child. We should start now. Today.”

Evergreen Up Late: No, You’re Chicken!

MORE THAN 3,000 additional people have been killed by guns in this country since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Yet gun NUTS continue to block any kind of legislation that could even potentially curb proliferation. Yes, I said NUTS. Self-proclaimed ‘Patriots’ who refuse any and all sensible bills that just might possibly restrict any access to any gun by anybody. Stay with me here. This may not be the place for a Freudian analysis of what makes ‘gun lovers’ tick, but a few assertions are in order.

Responsible guns owners support universal background checks.
Hell, the NRA used to support universal background checks until it looked like it might actually become a law. Why they changed their position is most perplexing. Was it an inherent NEED to oppose Obama on EVERYTHING? Perhaps just Ye Olde Fashioned Paranoia?

Here is a brief history of the need for guns in America!

But seriously, gun control advocates have no issue with guns for hunting and self-protection. But Military weaponry should be limited to Military use. An automatic rifle will not help in the hunting of a Moose or Squirrel.

I’m no gun lover, but I’m also not a gun hater. To me it’s just a tool. I have relatives who enjoy hunting and friends who enjoy target practice. And That’s Fine. But if you want a machine designed solely to mow down people like grass, well sir, I have a problem with that. There is no sport that requires such mega-cannisters of bullets. Using such weapons on wildlife classified as ‘Game’ is … well it’s just not sporting, is it?

One nice little feature of the US Constitution is that the 2nd Amendment (like all of the others) can be re-interpreted by the Supreme Court to fit the times. It is NOT the 2nd Commandment. But it does look like guns are, in fact, being idolized in this country in ways that are detrimental to our future. To my mind, at least. The Assault Weapons Ban bill that was ON THE BOOKS for a decade, but allowed to expire by GW Bush, is somehow now considered too radical to even consider in the Senate? The Country hasn’t gone Radical Left, the Congressmen who are blocking it have either gone Radical Right or sold their souls to the NRA.

You may ask, “And what would you know, you tree-hugging liberal?”
First: Trees are good, M’kay?
Second: Psst, I OWN a .22 rifle. My father was a cop. I grew up with a gun in the house.

That’s what I know.

As for those who feel they must hoard a cache of guns and are AFRAID that the Gub’mint is gonna take them all away? You’ve got to know: You’re not a ‘Patriot.’ You’ve got to know: You’re Chicken.

May you always be in tune with The Music of the Spheres.

Evergreen Up Late: Elephant Talk

Elephant Talk!

  • “Elephant Talk?”

I hear you ask.

  • “Do you mean like Trumpeting?”

Well, yes … of a certain kind.
In the sense that some Republicans are now trumpeting, to their constituents, that they support a bill that they had voted AGAINST.

  • “Huh? Arguments became agreements?”

… or when a sibling is trumpeting confidence in History’s judgement of his little brother.

Not so much, as factional bickering seemed to be the theme this year.

  • “What about Paul Ryan’s budget announcement? Isn’t that something new that Congress can work with?”

Nope, he was just repeating himself – in the WORST way.

  • “Well, we did finally learn about how cheap talk from Ryan’s (almost) boss had (almost) fooled the electorate.”

Yep, shown to the world as he truly is by a brave common man.

The lesson here is that when ‘Elephants’ talk, the sound can be heard across great distances.

And when ‘Elephants’ doubletalk, you need to listen TWICE as hard to hear what they are really saying.

Tonight, I leave you with the BEST kind of “Elephant Talk“.

May you always be in tune with The Music of the Spheres.

$2 Trillion—America’s Crumbling Infrastructure and the Iraq War

The American government chose the Iraq War in March 2003. Convinced Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction based on cherry-picked evidence, a war-hungry administration aided and abetted by most in Congress—from both political parties—and the mainstream media, invaded Iraq. This war was supposed to end quickly with the U.S. being hailed as liberators and celebrated by the Iraqi people for their new-found freedom at a mere cost of only 50 to 60 billion American taxpayer dollars.

The reality of that misadventure is quite different. Ten years later, the financial cost of that war is $2 trillion and climbing. The repercussions have been devastating to American and Iraqi lives, economies, and infrastructure. $2 trillion spent on pre-emptive war could’ve been used in more constructive and moral ways right here in the United States.

American Society of Civil Engineers logo

American Society of Civil Engineers logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every four years the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) assesses the state of infrastructure in the U.S. Their 2009 Report Card estimated it would take an investment, both public and private funding, of $2.2 trillion to repair and modernize the country’s infrastructure—roads, bridges, tunnels, water and sewage systems, parks, schools, energy, rail, aviation, etc. The overall grade given to American infrastructure was a D. This is a serious crisis—one that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Yesterday, the ASCE released their 2013 Report Card. The results remain dismal though there was slight improvement. The good news is that the country’s D has risen to a D+. The bad news is that the investment needed by 2020 is $3.6 trillion. Drinking water, solid waste, wastewater, bridges, rail and roads are the areas of improvement since 2009. You can see the grade given each category here.

To understand how critical infrastructure improvements are all one needs to do is recall events such as the levees breaking in New Orleans in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, or the bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007, or more recently, Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast, devastating municipalities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, revealing structural vulnerabilities throughout the region. The bottom line is that failing infrastructure weakens our economy.

Investing money in infrastructure projects not only improves the economy, allows for goods and services to be transported efficiently and reliably, protects communities and people, but also creates jobs–now.  Fareed Zakaria, experts at the Brookings Institute, and others have proposed establishing a national infrastructure bank, set up as a public-private partnership, just for this purpose, with the stipulation that legislators are forbidden to include any pork barrel projects.

However, with the current composition of our government and the ongoing debt ceiling and budget deficit fights in Washington there is neither the will nor the urgency to address this critical and dangerous problem. $3.6 trillion is a staggering price tag, but the infrastructure crisis is a solvable one. The ASCE report provides specific solutions, but here are three broad ones:

  1. Increase leadership in infrastructure renewal
  2. Promote sustainability and resilience
  3. Develop and fund plans to maintain and enhance America’s infrastructure

It is estimated that war financing—including interest and medical and disability benefits to veterans—will continue for decades at a cost of $6 trillion. We are still recovering from the 2008 financial crisis and conservatives are loath to make investments in American infrastructure, which will help the economy by putting people to work and creating safe, efficient land, air, and water routes to support and transport people, goods, and services.

Americans must focus on priorities that will strengthen this country for future generations, as prior generations did for us. These investments will create jobs, maintain and improve our quality of life, insure the safety of drinking water, bridges and roads, transform the power grid, and provide safe and toxic-free environments in schools and parks.

Andrew Herrmann, P.E., former President ASCE says in this video, “Infrastructure is what binds our country together.” All this costs money, yes, but it is an investment. In the end, it will save money and lives as well as lift our infrastructure quality to the level of other industrialized nations. Although the U.S. is ranked 7th overall in global competitiveness, it is ranked 25th in the infrastructure category in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 edition

Remember: $2 trillion and counting… If you include Afghanistan and Pakistan, it’s closer to $4 trillion. U.S. infrastructure cannot afford another Iraq.

2013 Report Card 

ASCE 2013 Report Card Videos 

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Iraq Ten Years Later: The Cost of America’s War of Choice

“The vast scale of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan and the full devastation they have wrought are poorly understood by the US public and policymakers. It is imperative that we know who has been killed, what kinds of wounds and health declines have been suffered, and what kinds of economic costs and consequences have been incurred or profits made, and by whom. All of the costs of these wars have been consistently minimized, misunderstood, or hidden from public view.”

~ From the Recommendations section of the Costs of War report.

300px-Iraq_War_montage

A recent study by the Costs of War project revealed the costs of the March 19, 2003, Iraq invasion. The results are devastating and some of them are highlighted below—some verbatim. The Costs of War website provides a more detailed report.

Cost to US taxpayers:

$1.7 trillion and counting with $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans. That figure including interest could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next ten years. (The initial estimate of this war was $50 to $60 billion.)

U.S Lives

  • Dead: 4,488 service members; 3,400 US contractors
  • Wounded: Estimated 32,000

Iraqi Lives

  • Dead: At least 134,000—this figure doesn’t include indirect deaths and is expected to be much higher once a final analysis is made
  • Wounded: 110,000, but probably several times higher
  • Displaced: At least 2.8 million

It is difficult to get an accurate count of Iraqi deaths and injuries. Neta C. Crawford, author of Civilian Death and Injury in Iraq, 2003-2011 writes:

 “The first reason that the numbers killed in Iraq have been so contested is politics. The United States was at great pains to underscore its commitment to avoid harming civilians in Iraq during the invasion in 2003 and the subsequent occupation.”

Crawford also refers to a 2008 RAND Corporation report, An Argument for Documenting Casualties, authored by Katherine Hall and Dale Stahl noting that it was not clear that “anyone in the U.S. military or Coalition is systematically collecting and analyzing” data on Iraqi civilian fatalities.

Lies fed to the American public:

  •  Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. None were ever found.
  •  Estimates for the duration and cost of war proved to be a fraction of the real costs.
  •  Dick Cheney believed and stated that Iraqis would “welcome us as liberators.”
  •  Saddam Hussein was allied with Al Qaeda, therefore connected to 9/11. 15 of the 19 terrorists involved in 9/11 were citizens of Saudi Arabia, the remaining were from Egypt, Lebanon, and the UAE. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with it.
  •  George W. Bush’s theatrics on May 1, 2003, declaring “mission accomplished.”

Bush_mission_accomplished-1

Iraqi Infrastructure:

  • The $212 billion reconstruction effort was mostly a failure; most of the money was spent on security or lost to waste and fraud
  • The conflict weakened the already precarious healthcare system; more than half of Iraqi doctors have left the country.
  • War-related environmental damage and toxins led to increased occurrences of cancer and birth defects.
  • The UN estimated Iraqi universities needed $2 billion dollars for rebuilding. In 2004, a request was made to Congress for $1.2 billion; a mere $8 million was granted.

A Thriving Democracy? Hardly.

  • Iraq’s government is a limited form of democracy, and it is becoming increasingly authoritarian. Iran’s influence in Iraq has grown, while America’s is waning.
  • There is increasing radicalism of Islamic militants in the region and an increased trend towards sectarian conflict and violence.
  • Women’s rights have been set back.

The Iraq war officially ended December 15, 2011. This was a pre-emptive war of choice, not one of necessity. The results above—and multitudes of additional devastating ones and controversial issues this post doesn’t address—are stark reminders of the disastrous consequences of rushing to war and of those in power who, through their own foolishness and hubris, neglect to envision the long-term negative consequences of combat, of interfering in another country’s sovereignty, of trying to reshape the rest of the world in America’s image without a plan in place should those grand schemes fail.

Politicians, the media, and the American public are all responsible for making sure that war is always a last resort and that transparency and accountability are adhered to, especially related to the integrity of financing and auditing and the way military personnel, contractors, and diplomats conduct themselves on foreign soil.  All human life is precious, not only American ones. Those “unpatriotic” souls who opposed the invasion…they were right.

Please take a moment to read the Recommendations section of this report.

Originally posted at The Feisty Liberal

Related Post:

It was never worth it: Iraq, 10 years later