Studies examine effects of Iraq war on US and UK | News | DW | 15.03.2013
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Studies examine effects of Iraq war on US and UK

Two studies have examined the effects of the Iraq war - there as well as in the United States and Britain. On Thursday, bomb blasts that appear to have been coordinated killed at least 18 people in Baghdad.

The Costs of War report found that the seven years which the US spent in Iraq claimed 190,000 lives and could end up costing the country $2.2 trillion (1.69 trillion euros). Civilians killed in the war totaled 134,000 people, or over 70 percent. US casualties came to 4,488 military members and at least 3,400 contractors, according to the report, with the remainder being security forces loyal to Saddam Hussein or the guerrilla fighters who entered the battle after Iraq's army had fallen.

"The staggering number of deaths in Iraq is hard to fathom, but each of these individuals has to count and be counted," said study co-leader Catherine Lutz, a professor at Rhode Island-based Brown University, where the report was compiled.

Released ahead of the March 20 anniversary, the report found that the financial portion of that calculation included substantial costs to care for wounded US veterans. The total estimated in the report far outstrips the initial projection by president George W Bush's government that the war would cost $50 billion to $60 billion.

"Nearly every government that goes to war underestimates its duration, neglects to tally all the costs and overestimates the political objectives that will be accomplished by war's violence," said Neta Crawford, another professor who helped coordinate the study.

The US has now spent at least $60 billion on reconstruction, but little has gone to restoring infrastructure. Most of that money goes to the Iraqi military and police, the report found.

Effects in Britain

A second study found that young men who have served in the British military are about three times more likely than civilians to have committed a violent offense, researchers reported Friday. The study found, however, that merely being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan made no difference in rates of violent crime later on. A key predictor, however, was violent behavior before enlisting.

"Being deployed in itself wasn't a risk factor for violent offenses but being exposed to multiple traumas, like seeing someone get shot, increased the risk by 70 to 80 percent," said Deirdre MacManus, the study's lead author.

The medical journal The Lancet published the study online on Friday. Researchers at King's College London compared data from more than 13,800 UK military personnel and veterans with records of violent crimes ranging from verbal threats to assaults and homicides. The researchers followed some subjects for up to seven years.

The researchers stressed that although the study pointed to a serious problem for those affected, it did not mean that all ex-soldiers would become violent criminals. "Just as with post-traumatic stress disorder, this is not a common outcome in military populations," said study co-leader Professor Simon Wessely, of the Centre for Military Health Research at King's College London. "Overall you must remember that of those who serve in combat, 94 percent of those who come back will not offend."

In Iraq, three explosions in the Allawi neighborhood on Thursday killed at least 18 people and wounded 30. Some sources put the toll higher, saying that as many as 23 people had been killed and 50 wounded in the blasts, which were just minutes apart. An attack was also staged on the Justice Ministry.

mkg/jr (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)