22 May 2011

Was it worth it?

So, at long last, we are quitting Iraq. The Ministry of Defence is in celebratory mood:

Brigadier Max Marriner, the commander of British forces in Iraq, said: "The UK armed forces can look back with pride at what they have achieved – security has fundamentally improved and as a consequence the social and economic development of the south has changed for the better, as too have people's lives."

Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for Defence, told Parliament last week: "Thanks to the sacrifice, commitment, and professionalism of thousands of British servicemen and women, southern Iraq is an area transformed."

The Independent has a slightly different perception:

Today, 2,985 days after the first British soldiers entered Iraq, the last contingent leaves. Since 20 March 2003, at least 100,000 Iraqis – shamefully, we can only calculate their number – and 4,769 American and coalition troops have been killed, including 179 British; 32,000 coalition troops have been wounded; violent deaths in Iraq are still running at an average of more than 300 a month; 2 million people have left Iraq, of whom 100,000 have returned, according to the Brookings Institute; coalition forces have used 250,000 bullets for every insurgent killed; the American taxpayer has spent $900bn (£500bn) in total, at the rate of $300m a day; the British taxpayer has spent a total of £8.4bn (£2.8m a day).

Draw your own conclusions.

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