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Friday, Nov 24, 2006, 7:14 pm

Iraq War 1347 Days Old On Sunday, Longer Than WWII

By Brian Zick
Edward Luce and Demetri Sevastopulo in the Financial Times report
On Sunday the Iraq war will enter its 1,347th day, thus overtaking the US’s involvement in the second world war.
Luce and Sevastopulo mark the occasion by examining the costs of the war, many of which have been intentionally kept hidden by the Bush administration.
Many argue that the true costs of Iraq remain skilfully concealed from the US public but cannot be deferred indefinitely. Unlike in Vietnam, where the draft lottery meant that members of the elite, such as John Kerry, the failed 2004 presidential candidate, served in uniform, the Iraq war has disproportionately drawn in people with few options beyond the military to improve their chances of escaping poverty.

Much of the human cost of the war has been kept out of sight, including the return of the dead given the Bush administration’s ban on the televising of bodybags.

But the extended tours of duty imposed on volunteer part-timers in the National Guard and Reserves as well as regular units has ruptured military morale, according to Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, Mr Bush’s first secretary of state.

As a result the Pentagon has been forced to dilute recruitment standards – waiving academic requirements and lifting the age limit from 35 to 40. “This is a war that is being fought by poor people while the rest of the country drives round in its SUVs barely noticing it is happening,” said Mr Wilkerson, who served in Vietnam.

Mr Campbell, a former naval officer, describes Iraq as a war that is being “funded by debt on a national credit card that is being financed by China”. America’s public debt has risen by more than a third to over $8,000bn (€6,240bn, £4,215bn) since the start of the Bush administration. China’s foreign reserves, mostly held in US treasury bonds, are close to $1,000bn.
via Steve Clemons
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