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Still counting the cost in Iraq

Still counting the cost in Iraq
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When the US President George W Bush delivered his ultimatum to President Saddam Hussein the White House wanted the backing of the world for military intervention in Iraq.

The US presented a simple mission — enter Iraq; topple Saddam; nullify his weapons of mass destruction and bring democracy to the country.

So began Operation Shock and Awe as the US airforce and navy began an aerial bombardment of the country.

As the bombs dropped 100,000 US and British combat troops surged over the border and fighting raged.

The first objective, the end of Saddam, was soon achieved, yet sectarian violence soon reared its head and Bush’s simple plan was soon bogged down in blood and confusion.

At its height as many as 330,000 individuals made up the coalition, the bulk of them Americans. As Obama took office 141,000 were in theatre and 50,000 will remain until 2011.

What will historians make of the military intervention in Iraq? The facts are clear no weapons of mass destruction have been uncovered. American popularity in Iraq and around the world has plummeted. Fears of terrorism have increased not subsided. Iraq as an independent democratic state still seems far away and importantly the US has taken some heavy casualties.

Nearly 5,000 coalition soldiers have been killed with as many as 32,000 wounded. But that is nothing compared to the estimated 100,000 civilians that have lost their lives.

As anti-Bush protests continued across the globe the Texan won the 2004 US election with dispatches from the front staying upbeat.

That is no longer the case. Americans want their troops home from a war, which many now believe had no justification. The Bush regime is mocked and the US has lost respect in many parts of the world.

As the GIs prepare to pack up their kit bags, the question is being asked just what was it all for?

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