The 10-year anniversary of the Iraq war serves as a unique opportunity to measure the costs of the intervention, to assess the successes and failures of the goals of the war and to assess Australia’s obligations.
Let’s start with the costs. According to official figures, 4486 US military and 319 other coalition troops died during Operation Iraqi Freedom, which cost US taxpayers $806 billion. No reliable public estimate exists on how much the war cost the Australian taxpayer. In Iraq the cost was much higher. Although estimates vary on the exact figures, approximately 162,000 Iraqis have died and an untold number injured. The war has also resulted in around 1.24 million internally displaced people and 1.6 million refugees, and many people have migrated out of Iraq since 2003.
When Gilad Shalit was dragged away in a cross-border raid in June 2006, it’s doubtful he or his captors would have imagined five years’ of negotiations lay ahead.
Nor in their most fevered imaginings would they have expected 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of them with multiple life sentences for murder, would be the price of his release.