Sunday | July 13, 2003
The cost of war
By Steve Gilliard
We now know that current estimates of the cost of the Iraq War have reached $3.9 Billion a month, double of what we were told it would be. But given the horribly wrong estimates that the Bush Administration has made so far, this is hardly a shock.
But there is another, more personal, cost of war which is being felt in both Iraq and at home.
Parents wait daily for news of their children, participating in a horrible lottery where their perfectly healthy child will return to them crippled or killed, with the announcement of another death causes quiet dread.
Every time they hear of another soldier shot, they hold their breath ... for another 12 hours.
“That's how long it seems to take them to notify the families,” said David Campo of Waterford, whose little brother Peter is patrolling the streets of Baghdad with the 82nd Airborne. “You keep your eye on the phone and hope nobody calls.”
“I worry about her ... constantly,” said Pauline Costick of Montville, whose daughter Lorraine Blood is the commanding officer of the Army's 603rd Transportation Company somewhere outside of Baghdad. “But this is what she's chosen to do, and she loves it. She loves the military life. You just have to let go or you'd go insane.”
“She tells me that she's fine, and I'm going to believe her,” 15-year-old Jason Blood said of his mother. “But I am just a little worried, because there's always something that could happen.”
They have no idea when or if their family members are coming home and a growing sense that the White House lied, in part or whole, to get their war on. And that lessens the support for the war.
Then there are the reports of "non-combat-related gunshot wound", which is a nice way to say suicide. Unless there was an arrest or explaination of an accidental discharge, then, it wasn't accidental. Three dead from "non-combat-related gunshot wound" begins to hint at the decline in morale among our men and women.
In today's Independent on Sunday, a grim picture of US troops emerges:
'We didn't win this war, not at all," said reserve infantryman Eric Holt, on guard outside the Republican Palace in Baghdad. "I don't know what I'm doing here and I don't like what's happening in this city," continued the 28-year-old from New York State. "It ain't right for the folks here. You know, there are a whole lot of our girls getting pregnant just so they can go home quick."
Perhaps not surprisingly, anecdotal evidence points to a growing number of breaches of military discipline. A spokesman said any soldier who fell pregnant would almost certainly be dishonourably discharged from the army and might even face a court martial, unless she was pregnant by her husband.
Prostitutes have now appeared. Rana, a 21-year-old Iraqi woman from Saddam's home town of Tikrit, said she had been working as a prostitute for a month near the army barracks in Abu Nawaz Street, central Baghdad. Most of her clients are US soldiers. She charges $50 for a night, including a room in a hotel in nearby Saddoon Street.
A receptionist at the hotel, where rooms are $30 for a twin, said there was no prostitution before the invasion. "We don't want our women to do these things," he said, adding that soldiers also try to sell handguns to make money. "They come in here and ask if I want to buy small guns a few times a week but we don't need any, we have a Kalashnikov."
Americans have always been skittish about sex in overseas locations, but the rise of prostitution leads to both security issues and local ire. When to the fundamentalists flip out and blow away a whole brothel? They've killed for less.
The lack of preparedness on the part of the US and the inability to rotate troops, is leading to a slow, steady collapse of discipline which will eventually get people killed.
Bush and his men have lived lives without consequence. Now, consequences are coming due,. but unfortunately, not only for them, but for hundreds of thousands of American families as well.Posted July 13, 2003 12:43 PM