The Responsibility to Protect justifies a military intervention against another state—and authorized by the UN Security Council—when a government is unable, unwilling or fails to protect its population against, or is being involved itself, in four crimes: war crime, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and a crime against humanity. When using the military force on behalf of the suffering population, the intervening state/s or organization/s should meet six criteria: just cause, right intention, last resort, proportional means, reasonable prospects, and the right authority. The 2003—U.S. intervention (invasion) in Iraq—which was not authorized by the UN Security Council nor was called on the Responsibility to Protect—fell short in three criteria discussed in this article: humanitarian purpose, proportional means, and reasonable chances of success to halting or averting human suffering. The human cost of war outweighs gains if any, and all other costs: between 405,000 and 650,000 individuals, civilians and combatants, lost their lives due to direct and indirect violence. Though the exact number of war-related mortality, as researchers caution, will never be known, what is known is that the actual number is higher than the reported one. In total, the Global War on Terror—launched by America in September 2001—cost between 480,000 and 507,000 lives and an amount of 6.4 trillion dollars. The unintended consequences are way too higher: increased sectarianism in Iraq, the growth of jihadi militancy in the Middle East, and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The ISIS scale of evil and destructiveness had been frightening: thousands of Iraqis and Syrians dead, millions displaced worldwide. The real winners: Iran, North Korea, and Russia.    

Starting Point

In the last three decades, the debate over the protection of human rights of people has increased as did the violence against civilians in armed conflict. The idea that human rights of individuals should take primacy over the state rights, individual versus state as a unit of security in the international system, aroused in response to the increased number of civilians’ casualties as opposed to combatants in internal and external conflicts, and following the emergence of new wars as a new form of conflict in the international arena. Consequently, civilians—once considered as the side-effect of violence—have now become the deliberated target of the warring parties. The new wars, as the theory of the new war suggests, are increasingly fought between state and non-state actors, more within—between government and non-state armed groups—than outside of state borders—and mainly target civilians rather than pursue military objectives (Kaldor, 1999).

Regarded as an exclusively domestic matter, today human rights of individuals stand between the state and international system meaning that when the state—as the primary actor—is unable, unwilling, or fails to protect its population against, or is engaged itself in violence, another state, group of states or international organization may step in and fill the vacuum. Numerous concepts came out as earlier as the 1990s such as the right to intervene (Kushner, 1987), individual sovereignty (Annan, 1990), human security (UNDP, 1994), sovereignty as responsibility (Deng, 1996), responsibility to protect (ICISS, 2000), code of conduct (Vedrine, 2000), and responsibility not to vote (France, 2013)—with the aim to strengthening the protection of human rights worldwide. The very idea of these proposals—using the military force against another state to protect or prevent systematic human rights violations, poses a direct threat to the sovereignty of the state—a sacrosanct principle embodied in the international law (UN Charter). But sovereignty, as Evans cautions, is not the license to kill, and mass atrocities are now the business of the world that cannot be universally ignored (2008). In its most basic sense, sovereignty, as former UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Kofi Annan argued when introducing the individual sovereignty notion, is being redefined by forces of globalization and international cooperation. “The State is now widely understood to be the servant of its people and not vice versa. At the same time, individual sovereignty—and by this, I mean the human rights and fundamental freedoms of each and every individual as enshrined in our Charter—has been enhanced by a renewed consciousness of the right of every individual to control his or her own destiny.” (UN General Assembly (UNGA), SG/SM/7136, September 1999) Speaking at the 2000 World Millennium Summit, Annan went further, asking: “If humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica, to the gross and systematic violation of human rights that offend every precept of our common humanity?”

In the aftermath of war and genocide in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) proposed the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) doctrine which suggests the use of military force to halt or avert “mass slaughters” or “large-scale human rights violations,” actual or apprehended, in situations when a government is unable, unwilling or fails to protect its own population against, or is involved itself in crime, and when all other means were exhausted (Evans, 2008). Unanimously embraced at the-2005 Millennium Summit Outcome and adopted in several UN Security Council (UNSC) and UNGA resolutions, RtoP rests in three pillars: 1) state has the primary responsibility to protect its own population from four crimes—genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity; 2) international community is responsible to provide assistance to a state in order to fulfill its RtoP and building capacities; 3) international community has the responsibility to take timely and decisive action compliant with the UN Charter in cases where the state has manifestly failed to protect its population from one or more of four crimes (Bellamy, 2010). Thereby, a military action against another state—legally authorized in self-defense, against threats to international peace and security or acts of aggression, and only approved by the UNSC (UN Charter, Chapter VII)—is justified as well as on humanitarian grounds to protect human rights whose violation poses a direct threat to international peace and security. On such a basis, the UN launched the military intervention against Iraq in 1991—the first collective action to protect the Kurdish and Shiite populations from Saddam Hussein regime (Weiss et al., 2014).

Professor Shen Dingli: China has used tanks to kill people on Tiananmen Square. It is the Myanmar sovereign right to kill their own people, too. (Gareth Evans, Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All, 2008)

The RtoP urges the five permanent members (P5) of the UNSC to voluntarily restrain from using the veto power in cases of internationally recognized mass atrocities or gross human rights violations. Before a decision is taken, three things must be secured: first, creating a general sense of international pressure for change; second, clarifying conditions or modalities by identifying clearly what P5 are and are not; and third, offering protective conditions for the P5—some reassurances that they will not be doing themselves any harm by agreeing to voluntary refrain the veto (Evans, 2013). For the principle to be employed, at least 50 members of the UN should demand from the UNSG to determine the nature of the crime, and once the existence of the crime is confirmed, the “code of conduct” applies immediately (Id.). Last, the responsibility to protect would make sense only if applied with the responsibility to prevent and respond to rebuild. So far, the application of RtoP remains incomplete in terms of either preventing genocide and other mass atrocities or its practicability (Luck, 2010; 2015). The ability to deliver has been mixed: the principle was used too little as in Somalia, ineffectively as in Darfur (Luck, 2010; 2015), invoked inconsistently as in Libya—first case used (Bellamy, 2010), employed effectively in Kenya (Luck, 2010; 2015), and remained silent in Syria (Bellamy, 2010). The state of basic human rights of people today—those given at birth—are “under assault,” the UNSG Guterres warned in Geneva last February when incepting the Call to an Action plan to boosting equality and reducing suffering everywhere. “National sovereignty cannot be a pretext for violating human rights,” he said (UN News, February 24, 2020).

Additionally, there are disagreements about the function, meaning, and proper use of RtoP such as in the case of France in relation to Myanmar and Russia in relation to Georgia where RtoP, as Bellamy indicates, was used while there was no apparent manifest failure of these states to protect populations from genocide and mass atrocities. Conversely, in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the principle has not been invoked in spite of the actual happening of mass atrocities against respective populations (2010:144). As Albright put it, “[…] All too often, the promise of R2P has been more noteworthy in its breach than in the honoring of our commitments […],” adding that crimes aimed to be prevented have continued at a shocking pace—in Syria, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, the DRC, and Sudan (The United States Institute of Peace, 2013). The failure of the international community to protect civilians in Syria, and human implications and unintended consequences in Iraq have seriously threatened the applicability of RtoP. Although the American military intervention in Iraq was not carried out under the RtoP nor was it authorized by the UNSC, the subsequent events questioned the practicability of principle. This article focuses on three of six RtoP principles using the case of U.S. military intervention in Iraq in 2003: humanitarian purpose, proportional means, and prospects for success in halting or averting human suffering.

The Cost of War in Iraq: $2 trillion   

A military intervention carried out on a humanitarian basis should meet six criteria proposed by the compilers of RtoP—among them—humanitarian purpose, proportional means, and consequences of the action. First, the purpose of military action—whatever the motive of the intervening party maybe — should always be to halt or avert human suffering (right intention). Second, the use of force should be commensurate in scale with the ends, and in line with the magnitude of the original threat (proportional means). Third, the consequences of action should not be worse than the consequences of inaction: the action should do more good than harm (reasonable chances for success) (Evans, 2008). The U.S. intervention in Iraq—justified under five war rationales with no credible connections found in four of them—failed to meet these objectives. The cost of war superseded gains in all aspects—human, political, security, economic, as well as geopolitical ones. Financially, America spent nearly $2 trillion in the Iraqi war alone, including all expenses, an average of $8,000 for each American taxpayer (Business Insider, February 6, 2020). This, too, exceeds the preliminary estimations of the Congressional Office of Management and Budget that war in Iraq would cost between $50 and 60 billion (Pelley, 2019: 299). Same, the Afghanistan war cost approximately $2 trillion (defense and state department, additions to the Pentagon, interest on borrowing, and veterans’ payments) (Brown University, September 2019). According to the Balance, the price of veterans’ payment (medical and disability) over the next 40 years will be more than $1 trillion. The expenses of the war in Afghanistan—increased especially in the second decade up to $107 billion annually—is second only to the $4.1 trillion (inflation-adjusted) spent during World War II (June 15, 2019). 157,000 people were killed as a result of direct violence (civilians, combatants, opposition fighters, journalists, and others) (Crafword & Lutz, November 2019).

In total, the Global War on Terror initiated by Bush administration in September 2001—which included initially Afghanistan and Iraq and later Yemen, Pakistan, and other areas—cost 6.4 trillion dollars (Brown University, 2019). This surpasses calculations of the Department of Defense made in March 2019, according to which, the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria together cost an average of $7,623 for each taxpayer (2019). In December 2019, Congress appropriated about $70 billion for the post-9/11 wars as part of the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act, though the Pentagonoriginally requested less than $10 billion of that amount for Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria (Defense One, February 4, 2020). Consequently, the U.S. debt of direct war-related spending has increased, reaching $2 trillion since the beginning of Global War on Terror, cumulating an amount of $925 billion in interest payments (Peltier, 2020: 1). Even if military interventions ceased immediately, interest payments would continue to rise, reaching, as Peltier estimates, over $2 trillion by 2030 in addition to the existing $2 trillion and $6.5 trillion by 2050. Reminding that about 40% of the post-9/11 wars have been financed by foreign borrowing (Id.).

Human Loss: Very High—The Actual Loss Undercount

The U.S. military intervention in Iraq resulted in thousands of thousands of lost lives, civilians and combatants, due to direct and indirect violence. The coalition forces led by the U.S. failed, according to Human Rights Watch, to meet the humanitarian purpose and proportional means criteria, questioning President Bush’s statement delivered in the early phases that war in Iraq was “one of the swiftest” and “the most human military campaigns in history.” On contrary, the war in Iraq, the organization follows, was massive, involving an extensive bombing campaign and some 150,000 ground troops which regularly used cluster munitions in populated areas, trying to target Iraqi leadership while causing substantial loss of life (2004). Only in the first two months when Bush declared Mission Accomplished, 7,424 individuals, among them 4,040 (1,201 children), were killed as a result of violence used by the coalition forces (Iraqi Body Count, 2014). By September 2003, the number reached nearly 100,000 (The Lancet, 2006). Even though there is no exact data, the massive loss of lives in Iraq has raised questions if humanitarian intervention is ever the right policy to do? As Momani argues at Brookings, “the human cost of the Iraq war outweighs all others.” (2013) For a former Iraqi ambassador, Nasir Ahmed Al Samaraie, the war in Iraq was a ‘‘war on civilians.’’ (International Review of the Red Cross, 2007)

Dozens of studies aimed at measuring war-related mortality in Iraq—direct and indirect and including civilians and combatants—had been conducted with no exact number of deaths, which unfortunately will never be known. The existing data varies from one study to another. In one thing researchers, however, agree that the actual number of deaths as a result of war is much higher than the reported number. Based on the Iraqi Body Count, the total number of documented violent deaths since 2003 is 288,000: between 184,986 and 207,906 civilians (March 14, 2020). A similar number provides the Statista Research Department: 207,841. The number of civilian deaths in Iraq, as the Statista indicates, peaked in 2006 at 29,517 casualties, and then continued to fall to 4,162 casualties in 2011, just to be increased to 20,218 in 2014 with the appearance of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). According to Brown University, on the other hand, over 182,000 civilians were killed by the U.S. and its allies, including the Iraqi military and police, and the opposition forces between March 2003 and November 2018. Yet this figure, as the university alerts, “is lower than the actual figure” for not all war-related deaths had been recorded accurately by the Iraqi government and the American forces. “No one knows with certainty how many people have been killed and wounded in Iraq. It is unknown how many Iraqi civilians have been wounded in the war, though one report states that as many civilians have been wounded as killed.” (November 2018)Pelley, a CBS journalist, offers a much higher figure, exceeding 288,000 (2019, 303). Other researchers such as Hagopian et al. bring the number of deaths to 405,000 involving the period between 2003 and 2011 (95% uncertainty interval 48,000–751,000)—with a half-million deaths caused directly by violence (Plos Medicine, 2013).

Using the household survey as a superior method, in 2008, the Conflict and Health journal found from 13 eligible studies that the average deaths caused by violence per day in Iraq ranged from 48 to 759 and from 0.64 to 10.25 per 1,000 per year. The mortality burden of the war and its sequelae in Iraq, the journal concluded, is large—especially in Falluja—which had had an extremely high violent death rate. Including both civilians and combatants for all causes and excluding Falluja, the average of excess deaths through 2003 and 2008 was 98,000 or an estimated 180 excess deaths per day (2008). Three survey households carried between 2004 and 2006 offer contradictory numbers: 98,000 excess deaths (The Lancet, 2004); 650,000 civilians and combatants, according to Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (The Lancet, 2006); and 400,000 deaths—151,000 caused directly by violence based on the Iraq Ministry of Health survey in 2006 (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT). As MIT explains, in case of Iraq Ministry of Health survey, problems with data gathering and the analysis tended to minimize violent death estimates; yet the survey generally confirmed the very high mortality reported (Iraq: The Human Cost). Another study of the Iraq Family Health Survey (IFHS) published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that through March 2003 and June 2006, 151,000 individuals were killed in the war (95% uncertainty range—from 104,000 to 223,000) (2007).

In total, between 480,000 and 507,000 people were killed as a result of violence used by the U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq through 2003 and 2018, excluding indirect deaths, according to Brown University (2018). Again, the numbers of people killed in the U.S. post-9/11 wars, as Crawford cautions, are an undercount because of limits in reporting. “While we often know how many U.S. soldiers die, most other numbers are to a degree uncertain. Indeed, we may never know the total direct death toll in these wars.” (Id.) Interviewing Marc Garlasco (2007), a former Pentagon official part of the team to killing Saddam Hussein before the U.S. invasion, Pelley asked him: “How many dead civilians is a dead bad guy worth on every airstrike?” The Pentagon number, Garlasco answered, was thirty in cases of such high importance target. “[…] But once you hit number thirty, we had to go either to President Bush or Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.” In 50 airstrikes unleashed to killing Saddam and his senior leadership before the invasion, “none of the targets on our target list was actually killed,” Garlasco said, adding that the team was “looking at a couple of hundred civilians killed in those strikes.” As Pelley suggests, in its campaign to assassinate Saddam Hussein, Pentagon was “zero for fifty.” (2019: 227)

The number of American soldiers’ fatalities on the other side was 4,571, as the data of Statista Research Department indicates. The mortality rate was higher in the first five years due to the confrontation with Al-Qaeda and civil war, reaching the highest point in 2007—904. Then, it progressively decreased starting in 2008, in part because of Obama pledge to remove troops once elected. The trend of numbers decreasing from 2008 and onward, according to Statista, was in line with the trend for American solider loses. The number of civilian deaths fluctuated—peaking at 29,517 in 2006 and 26,078 in 2007, while starting to decline in 2008—10,271 just to be doubled in 2014—20,218 and onward with the emergence of ISIS until 2018 when it declined to little above 3,000 (June 4, 2019; March 6, 2020).

The increased deadliness of civilians vs. combatants in armed conflict is one of the main characteristics of the new wars—known as being predominantly asymmetric in nature in contrast to earlier warfare and being fought mainly by state and non-state actors—often out of conventional norms and by actors ruled of irrational thinking (Kaldor, 1999; Munkler, 2003; Newman, 2004). Consequently, civilians have replaced military objectives, and even the means of conducting such attacks “are less and less of a genuinely military nature.” (Munkler, 2003) The ratio of noncombatant to combatant casualties oscillates between 8:1 (Kaldor, 1999) and 9:1 (UNHCR, 2000). The number of civilian casualties compared to military ones has significantly increased throughout 1946-2010 just as violence against civilians has increased from 1989 to 2010 (Rigternik, 2013: 1). The Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, CCPDC, (Newman, 2004), ICISS (2001) and UNHCR (2000) concur with this assertion. Based on the World Bank accounts, approximately 20 million people were killed and at least 67 million were displaced during 1960-1999 (2005, 303). Over 80% of all war deaths in the 1990s were civilians (Mello 2010, 2). Almost two million people were killed from 1989-2014, the majority in state-armed conflicts (Melander 2015, 2).

Unintended Consequences in Iraq, the Region, and in Relation to the U.S.

Prior to launching the airstrikes against Axis of Evil, as American administration dubbed the military campaign against Iraq, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, then president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, warned President Bush on unpredictable consequences that military action would have for peace and stability in Iraq, in the Middle East, and in relation to the U.S. “The use of force […] must not produce evils and disorders greater than the evil to be eliminated.” (Pates, 2014, America the Jesuit Review). Where in fact the consequences of action worse than the consequences of inaction, i.e. human loss, political and security, and geopolitical ones? The answer is: Yes.

As above-mentioned, human loss in Iraq superseded all other losses. Politically, democracy was at stake up to more recently: it took 15 years for Iraqis to install a democratic state. The price was high: thousands of thousands of lives lost, economic and social destruction, and constant security threats. Democracy fragile: multiple elections under the American auspices reversed the trend: Shiite Muslims and Kurds populations—discriminated and excluded from political decision-making under Saddam rule—now predominated the Iraqi’s institutions at expense of disenfranchised Sunnis. Consequently, the insurgency, especially of the Sunni Muslims, against the U.S. occupation increased as did sectarianism. Supported by Americans and under the American watch, former Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki—who controlled security institutions and intelligence service—regressed the country toward authoritarianism, committing the worst atrocities against his own population (Human Rights Watch, 2012). Human rights in Iraq, as Human Rights Watch reports, are at risk after violent demonstrations in October and November 2019, which left hundreds of people killed, including violations of political freedoms, use of the death penalty extensively, arbitrary detainment of protesters, torture, and other ill-treatment, and above all—the Iraqi failure to make war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by ISIS specific offenses under the law (2019). Unfortunately, the American promises for creating a model democracy in Iraq and spreading freedom across the Middle East, as Yaroslav Trofimov writes at the Wall Street Journal, have often been seemed like cruel mockery. “There weren’t many takers in the region for the Iraqi model.” (November 17, 2017) With Islamic State defeated and after the last election—considered as highly competitive—Iraq, as the Economist wrote, finally is getting back on its feet: A new sense of unity prevails, but it is fragile (March 31, 2018). Yet, prospects for democracy in Iraq are low and the fear of reverse authoritarianism in the Middle East as the common model of governing persist (Harith Hassan, Atlantic Council, May 29, 2018).

Two were the unintended consequences in Iraq—linked directly to the U.S. invasion: increased sectarianism leading to civil war and growth of jihadi militancy in the Middle East—culminating with the emergence of ISIS. As Obama admitted to VICE’s founder Shane Smith, ISIS is a “direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) that grew out of our invasion”—an example of unintended consequences (March 16, 2015). Continuing at the UNGA, he said, ISIS came “out of chaos in Iraq and Syria.” (2015) According to Gerges, ISIS emergence was caused or facilitated by four main factors: the 2003-U.S. invasion of Iraq and its consequences, including the dismantling of Iraqi state institutions and the reinforcement of ethnic and religious cleavage; the fragmentation of post-Saddam political establishment and the deepening of Shia and Sunni divisions; the breakdown of state institutions in Syria, and the derailment of Arab Spring and proxy wars in the region (2016, 8). Likewise, Weiss and Hassan attribute ISIS success to the American failure to establishing a sound democracy in Iraq, promoting and protecting human rights, and engaging with tribes who have enormously suffered from the de-Baathification process (2015, 36-67). In the same line of argument stands the Foreign Policy’s analyst, Dily Hussain, who suggests a direct causal linkage between Western military interventionism in the Muslim world and the rise of reactionary armed militia groups or terrorist groups. Before the war in Afghanistan, Hussain writes, there was no Taliban in Pakistan as there was no al-Shabaab before the Western-backed African Union (AU) forces and the Kenyan army entered Somalia. Likewise, there were no Al-Qaeda or ISIS before the Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Jam’at Al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (TJ) led by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, he continues, was born out of the Iraq war as part of a coalition of Sunni resistance groups fighting the occupying forces. In 2004, TJ officially joined Al-Qaeda, changing its name to Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), then to Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and—to ISIS in 2014 (Hussain, Foreign Policy Journal, March 23, 2015).

The growth of jihadi militancy and terrorism in the Middle East, according to Hussain, was a result of the growing resentment among Sunnis, particularly the American broken promises to including them in political decision-making in exchange of fighting ISIS additionally to Al-Maliki’s wrongdoings—most notably his persecution of Sunnis and his closer ties with Iran. In a situation when the Sunni Arabs became increasingly aggrieved, ISIS stepped in and filled the vacuum (Foreign Policy Journal, March 23, 2015). That said, instead of creating a democracy, Rosen, a fellow at the New America Foundation, argues, America replaced one dictatorship with another—and the chaos created thereafter gave the regional dictatorships a powerful argument against the regime change (The Nation, July 28, 2005). All in all, the U.S., as Hooker Jr. and Collins, editors of National Defense University’s 2015 Lessons Encountered wrote, was not intellectually prepared for the unique aspects of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“[…] In both conflicts, ethnic, religious, and cultural differences drove much of fighting. Efforts to solve this problem…came too little too late. Our lack of understanding of the wars seriously retarded our efforts to fight them and to deal with our indigenous allies, who were often more interested in score-settling or political risk aversion than they were in winning the war.” (Pelley, 2019, 303)

The Islamic State—which penetrated through Iraq and Syria and operated in 18 countries—committed the worst atrocities against Iraqis and Syrian populations. Its scale of evil and destructiveness had been frightening: thousands of deaths and millions of displaced within and outside Iraq and Syria, including economic and social destruction, and security threats in the region. The world divided between the U.S. and Russia and their allies.

Geopolitical Gains: Zero

Geopolitically, no gains at all. As Stephen Walt said to Max Tholl of Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a war designed to reshape the politics in the region, installing democracy and bringing long-term peace and stability, ended up without doing any of them.

“They thought, they could remake the politics of the entire Middle East at the point of a gun, but far from moving towards a tranquil democracy, the region has become much more contentious and less stable. By reducing Iraq’s power and by allowing the Shiite to become the dominant political force in Iraq, the U.S. removed the main country balancing Iran and helped bring to power a government that has at least some sympathies and links to Iran. The geopolitical winner of the war appears to be their
common enemy: Iran.” (The European, March 20, 2013)

The truth of the matter is that—instead of eliminating the threat from Saddam Hussein due to his non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), the war in Iraq, as Galbraith argues in his book, Unintended Consequences: How War in Iraq Strengthened America’s Enemies, ended up with Iran and North Korea much closer to having deployable nuclear weapons; taking advantage of Bush preoccupation with Iraq, they withdraw from Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT). Instead of fighting terror, the war in Iraq helped terrorists; instead of bringing freedom and democracy, the war ended up in an American fight for pro-Iranian Shiite theocrats and alongside unreformed Baathists; rather than undermining Iran’s Ayetollahs, the war in Iraq resulted in a historic victory for Iran, giving Iran a role to control Iraq government and armed forces that it has not had four centuries; instead of promoting democracy in the Middle East, the war has set it back, and instead of making America more secure, it has left the country weaker (Galbraith, 2015).

Literature cited:

Albright, Madeleine, K. and Richard S. Williamson. 2013. “The United States and R2P: From Words to Action.” The United States of Institute of Peace, Washington, DC.

Bellamy, Alex, J. 2010. “The Responsibility to Protect—Five Years On.” 2010 Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, 24, 2. 143 (143–169).

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Dilly Hussain, “ISIS: The Unintended Consequences of the U.S.-led war on Iraq,” Foreign Policy Journal, March 23, 2015.

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Gerges, Fawaz. A. 2016. ISIS: A History. Princeton: Princeton University Press. eBook.

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3 thoughts on “America’s Cost of War in Iraq: 405,000 – 650,000 Lives Lost, $2 Trillion Spent”

  1. Dear Sebahate,

    Thank you for writing a great article! I do agree with you in the following aspects:
    1. There was an exaggeration of information on the threat posed
    2. Governments ignored all available alternatives to war
    3. There were miscalculations on the costs and benefits
    4. There was limited geopolitical clout derived
    5. War in both countries not winnable



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Why have India and Pakistan been unable to resolve the sources of conflict in South Asia through diplomatic means?

January 14, 2021 0 Comments 0 tags

India and Pakistan’s complex relations are as old as the countries themselves. The partitioning of India along with their independence in 1947 triggered what would become one of the most