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Iraq war: Predictions made, and results

A look back at some of the predicted US outcomes for the Iraq war, and what happened.

By Staff writer / December 22, 2011

In this Dec. 17 photo, a U.S. Army soldier from 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas, sits on top of his armored vehicle at Camp Adder during final preparations for the last American convoy to leave Iraq.

Maya Alleruzzo/AP


Would the war be cheap and would Iraq pay for it?

The projections: Ahead of and shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, a number of officials, including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz suggested the war could be done on the cheap and that it would largely pay for itself. In October 2003, Rumsfeld told a press conference about President Bush's request for $21 billion for Iraq and Afghan reconstruction that "the $20 billion the president requested is not intended to cover all of Iraq's needs. The bulk of the funds for Iraq's reconstruction will come from Iraqis -- from oil revenues, recovered assets, international trade, direct foreign investment, as well as some contributions we've already received and hope to receive from the international community." In March 2003, Mr. Wolfowitz told Congress that "we're really dealing with a country that could finance its own reconstruction." In April 2003, the Pentagon said the war would cost about $2 billion a month, and in July of that year Rumsfeld increased that estimate to $4 billion.

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What happened? The Iraq war cost about $800 billion, or about $7.6 billion a month. When long term benefits are paid out connected with the death and injury of US troops there, the number is expected to rise to about $1 trillion, or about $9.5 billion a month. About $60 billion was spent directly on Iraq reconstruction efforts.

Did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction?

The projections: Ahead of the war, then Secretary of State Colin Powell told the UN that the US was worried that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had vast chemical weapons stockpiles, including anthrax, and asserted that the country had mobile biological weapons laboratories. In August of 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney said: "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, against us." President Bush said in March 2003 "intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised" and then Senator Hillary Clinton said that year: "Iraq ... remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations."

What happened? The Iraq Survey Group was the US-led team dispatched to find Saddam's purported weapons of mass destruction after the US invasion, led by David Kay. The group found evidence of low level biological weapons research and Mr. Kay resigned in early 2004. In September of that year, the group issued the Duelfer Report on the findings of its 18 months search. It found that Saddam had ended nuclear weapons research in 1991, and that biological and chemical weapons research had ended in 1995, though it found that Saddam would have liked to obtain WMD's, were it possible.


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