The start of the Vietnam War and the War in Iraq were two very different things. The start of the Vietnam War was gradual, as presidents starting with Eisenhower slowly built up America presence in the region. The initial invasion of Iraq was a showcase for the massive military industrial complex that provided scores of new technological advances in recent years designed to maximize death.
Memorable images from the invasion include the “shock and awe” campaign of large bombs and missiles tearing up Baghdad, the famous toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue by Iraqi civilians, and President George Bush landing in a fighter jet upon an aircraft carrier, only to give a speech in front of a large banner that read “Mission Accomplished! ” Never during Vietnam did any presidents do anything so dramatic, though Lyndon Johnson did visit the troops fighting in Vietnam to give his support.
Over five years after Bush’s carrier landing, the mission has not been accomplished, unless the mission was to create the highest possible revenues for international oil companies at the expense of young American lives. Additionally, the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq eroded much of the international good will created by the September 11 attacks. Many countries that supported the U. S. invasion of Afghanistan see the invasion of Iraq as unnecessary and nothing more than the act of a bully, the world’s lone superpower.
However, most Americans chose to dismiss the loud opinions of the international community as being shortsighted and not relatable, instead choosing to view the country as a defender of freedom. Again, this is similar to Vietnam, in which many countries began thinking the U. S. a condescending bully that did not allow other countries sovereignty. Like the Vietnam War, the ones benefiting the most are those that supply the massive military industrial complex.
However, the economic impact of the war in Iraq is felt by all Americans each time they pump gas, which is far greater than the previous war. In the four years since the U. S. invaded Iraq, Iraqi oilfields and associated infrastructure have sustained 400 attacks, and oil production in the country has fallen from 1. 95 barrels per day during the first quarter of 2007, short of the U. S. goal of 2. 5 million barrels per day and the previous mark of 3.
7 million under Saddam Hussein (Miller). It is also highly reported in the media and amongst citizens that companies like Haliburton, associated with Vice President Dick Cheney, have benefited immensely from the reconstruction contracts in Iraq, leading many to believe that the war is solely for oil. The fact that oil companies are now making record profits seem to reinforce these ideas. But, another consequence of U. S. action in Iraq is that the dollar is losing its international value.
The dollar has weakened against the euro, gold, copper, and other assets, and when Bush came in to office, a dollar equated to . 987 euros while now it is at . 75 (Miller). While oil gets more expensive, the dollar weakens, in large part due America’s overwhelming dependence on it and the massive expenditures of oil, resources, and money on the war in Iraq. During Vietnam, the action also benefited military contracting companies, but did not affect the American public quite so much economically.
However, the business side of the war in Iraq seems to have little benefit for common Americans, who are really the ones paying the most for it in terms of dollars. One of the biggest differences is that the War in Iraq and Afghanistan is affecting the country more economically than socially. Top economists estimate that the total costs for the war will exceed $2 trillion. The Bush administration predicted in 2002 that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, but according to a 2006 study by Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph E.
Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes, after factoring in long-term healthcare for wounded US veterans, rebuilding a worn-down military, and accounting for other unforeseen bills and economic losses, the total could reach far above the $700 million it has so far cost for the war effort alone (Bender). With so many domestic issues requiring effort and money to rectify, this extended war does little to provide health care for the millions of Americans without it, or maintain the country’s infrastructure.
A former economic advisor to President Bill Clinton, Stiglitz based the study on past conflicts, the current war’s impact on the ballooning federal deficit, its ripple effects on overall economic growth and investment, and losses in productivity (Bender). The increasing economic costs, combined with the economic downturn experienced during Bush’s time in office is borderline catastrophic, but actually compares little to the greatest cost of the war, which is the cost of human lives.