Iraq: 3 years in

The survey included 944 military respondents interviewed at several undisclosed locations throughout Iraq. The survey was conducted January 18–February 14, 2006.

The margin of error for this survey is +/-3.3 percentage points.It began with a bunker-busting missile barrage known as “Shock and Awe,” and now, three long years later, the war grinds inexorably on—no longer shocking, perhaps, but with an awful, ever-increasing number of injuries, casualties and fatalities on both sides of the conflict.

   As this eye-opening collection of surveys and statistics (painstakingly compiled by The Sacramento News & Review) clearly demonstrates, the war in Iraq continues to exact a fearsome (and growing) toll on our troops, as well as the ordinary Iraqis they were sent to protect.

   But beyond the raw numbers, a deeper story has, until now, gone untold—that of the U.S. soldiers who face the violent uncertainty of this war every day. In the first comprehensive study of active-duty military personnel in Iraq (recently released by Zogby International), one striking fact stands out: 7 out of 10 of our brave servicemen (and women) feel that the U.S. should be out of Iraq before the fourth anniversary rolls around.58% of U.S. troops say mission is clear in their minds

42% of U.S. troops say U.S. role is hazy to them

 93% said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for the U.S. troops being there

85% think war is retaliation for Saddam’s role in 9/11

77% believe a major reason for the war was to “stop Saddam from protecting Al-Qaeda in Iraq”

68% believe the real mission was the removal of Saddam Hussein

24% think “establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab world” is a major reason for the war

11% see the mission as a way to secure oil supplies

6% think the mission is to provide long-term bases for U.S. troops in the region

 72% think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year

29% say the U.S. should leave Iraq immediately

22% say the U.S. should leave Iraq in the next six months

21% say U.S. should be out between six and 12 months

23% say the U.S. should stay “as long as they are needed”

 30% of U.S. troops think the Department of Defense has failed to provide adequate troop protections


Source: Zogby International





Average monthly cost of Iraq War: $5.6 Billlion

Average monthly cost of Vietnam War, adjusted for inflation: $5.1 billion


Source: The Institute for Policy Studies


Running total based on congressional appropriations:

$246,236,390,000+ and growing


Running total per person in the United States: $984+

Source: National Priorities Project





Male: 2,199

Female: 48



Younger than 22: 654

22-24: 515

25-30: 557

31-35: 241

Older than 35: 280



Iraqi civilians killed: Between 33,489 and 37,589

Number of Iraqi civilians killed

year over year:

March 2003 – March 2004: 6,331

March 2004 – March 2005: 11,312

March 2005 – March 2006: 12,617


Source: Iraq Body Count


Number of Iraqi deaths attributable to the war in Iraq according to the British medical journal The Lancet: Over 100,000




Insurgent attacks in 2004: 26,496

Car bombs: 420

Suicide car bombs: 133

Roadside bombs: 5,607

Insurgent attacks in 2005: 34,131

Car bombs: 873

Suicide car bombs: 411

Roadside car bombs: 10,953


Source: The Brookings Institution


It’s been three years since ground operations commenced in Iraq.

Where do you think we’ll be at the end of year four?

Kelley Midkiff

Age: 38

Occupation: Nurse Practitioner

“I just hope it’s over soon.”


Diane Oaks

Age: 42

Occupation: Marketing for Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

“Well, I think we’ll still be there. I would hope that some of the troops would go home. News that the president will be leaving it for the next president is not very encouraging.”


Ian Harris

Age: 20

Occupation: Computer Tech

“I’m not entirely sure ’cause I didn’t think it would last this long. I thought it would’ve ended because of military action in Iraq being taken out.”


Mary Johnston

Age: 47

Occupation: Judge

“I think probably I would see a troop drawdown of maybe one third. I don’t see civil strife lessening much. It’s been going on for millennia, so I see that being a continuing problem.”


Chris Mertz

Age: 28

Occupation: Student at UVA

“I think for the next year they’re gonna call it a low-grade civil war, but not a full-blown civil war. …I think it’s gonna get worse and I think eventually America’s gonna pull out.”


Maryanne Rodgers

Age: 60

Occupation: Teacher

“In spite of all the terrorists’ attempts, I think there will be a stronger indigenous government. I believe that America will provide support to all the different kinds of people that are over there. I’m expecting success.”


Righting wrongs
UVA Law School’s human rights clinic takes on Abu Ghraib and other international abuses

UVA’s Law School doesn’t exactly have a reputation for matriculating anti-authoritarian bomb throwers. Consider this: In the past four years, the school has graduated 1,314 students and only 82 (just 6 percent) have taken jobs in government or the public sector. Thus, it can come as quite a shock to outside observers when the work of the school’s Human Rights Law Clinic contributes to left-leaning headlines in the International Herald Tribune.

One can imagine, for instance, that (UVA grad and Supreme Court wannabe) J. Michael Luttig’s head nearly exploded when he heard that the Clinic supplied research for a German case holding Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

   Established in 2001, the Human Rights Law Clinic was founded at the urging of professors Rosa Brooks and David Martin, who were well aware of the market demand for such law school programs—and appreciative of the real-world applications such training can provide.

   “[These issues] are on the front page of the newspaper everyday,” says Brooks. “Students are reading about them and they care about them and should care about them… It’s part of any law school’s duty to give students the skill to go out there in the world and understand these issues.”

   And, of course, publicity never hurts. While some of UVA’s more conservative students and faculty might dismiss the politics, they surely relish the attention—even if it comes from an international court action against Donald Rumsfeld.

   “When that case was filed, and got a tremendous amount of attention,” remembers professor Deena Hurwitz, “Students were really excited to see the discussion of it in the press. They said, ‘Look, we made this happen,’ and then [the students] keep following [the story].”

   The Law Clinic’s progress has been mirrored by similar programs nationwide. Hurwitz, who often teaches the class (and is the director of the law school’s Human Rights Program), estimates that there were only 20 other such programs at peer schools when UVA’s clinic began. Since 2001, however, there has been a proliferation, with approximately four times as many programs now up and running across the country.

   The appeal is easy to understand. Whereas most grad students spend their days absorbing theory and abstraction that may never find practical use outside of the library stacks, students inside the Massie Road classroom of the Law Clinic are thinking practically about how to help real people. People whose hands have been chopped off by their own governments, people plagued by stillbirths due to Vietnam-era Agent Orange exposure, and yes, people who are currently being tortured under the disinterested eye of the U.S. government. For the engaged, compassionate law student, the opportunity to make a real difference in the world is all but irresistible.

   “I don’t want the students to just be doing leg work,” Hurwitz says about selecting projects for the Clinic. “It’s got to be something real concrete. The students have to be able to see how what they do is going to be used. It doesn’t have to be used immediately. It doesn’t have to be used in the way that they will see the ‘victory of human rights,’ but they have to know that it’s practical and real.”


On a recent Tuesday afternoon in Hurwitz’s class, 13 law students sat around a table in a wood-paneled seminar room, laptops out and fingers tap-tap-tapping away, getting a fresh, if not entirely cozy, sense of the “practical and real.” Four of their classmates explained the brick wall they’d hit.

They had spent the past eight weeks working with the D.C.-based organization Earth Rights International to draft a submission to the U.N. that could help shape an upcoming resolution on transatlantic corporations operating in countries that commit human rights abuses. (Think Google voluntarily censoring their results in China.) But the students heard that John Ruggie—the U.N. representative they were purportedly trying to help—had called the propositions “out in left field.” He had dismissed them entirely. A little frustrating, to say the least.

   Well, sometimes that happens when you’re trying to change the world, so buck up, Katie Redford told them. She’s a UVA Law graduate, co-founder of Earth Rights, and currently adjunct professor for the class.

   “Sometimes the worst thing that can happen is the best thing that can happen from an advocacy perspective,” Redford says. She didn’t expect Ruggie’s decision, either, but now the students’ work can be used for advocacy purposes. Earth Rights can now present the ideas, perhaps not to the U.N., but to governments and corporations.

   It might not be exactly the victory the students sought, but hey it’s another day in the thorny world of human rights law. If these 13 had been looking for the easy way, they probably would have chosen the corporate route, like most of their peers.—Nell Boeschenstein

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