Of course, the most glaring manifestation of our failure to have a collective accounting of this fiasco is that those who are most responsible for it still have loud voices in our foreign policy.
Of course, the media played a huge role in allowing -- indeed, enabling -- this catastrophe. What should have been a brake on a process fueled by lies was instead an accelerator.
And the consequences of this disastrous war are still very much with us. In the seemingly endless manufactured crisis over the "fiscal cliff" and the sequester, it's amazing how much airtime and print space have been devoted to the deficit with the word "Iraq" barely getting a mention. Clearly a triumph of forgetting.
"It's really the decision of how to pay for it that has had such a negative effect on the U.S. economy," said Linda Bilmes, lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and co-author, along with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, of "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict." "Because unlike any previous war in U.S. history, this was paid for entirely by debt at the same time that we cut taxes."
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorites, by 2019, the Iraq War and the Bush tax cuts will account for nearly half of our $17 trillion projected debt. And even less discussed than the ongoing costs of the war are the opportunity costs -- the many things we might have spent that money on instead. In 2010, Bilmes and Stiglitz wrote that not only was their $3 trillion estimate of the war's cost too low, but so was their estimation of the opportunity costs:
"The Iraq war didn't just contribute to the severity of the financial crisis, though; it also kept us from responding to it effectively. Increased indebtedness meant that the government had far less room to maneuver than it otherwise would have had ... The result is that the recession will be longer, output lower, unemployment higher and deficits larger than they would have been absent the war."
In addition to the ongoing debt, there's the issue of the cost of the care for the millions of Iraq war veterans. "We will have a vast overhang in domestic costs for caring for the wounded and covering retirement expenditure of the war fighters," said policy expert Loren Thompson in 2011. "The U.S. will continue to incur major costs for decades to come."
Will those who argued vehemently to get us into the war advocate as single-mindedly on behalf of those who fought and died and got wounded in that war? I think we already know the answer to that one.
And what of Iraq today? As it turns out, it's one of the closest allies of Iran. Just last week, it was reported that Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki has turned down the U.S. demand for sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program. Iraq also just approved the building of a pipeline for natural gas to flow across Iraq to connect Iran and Syria, which, as the AP put it, is "likely to strengthen Tehran's influence over its neighbors."
In December 2011, as the last combat troops were being brought home from Iraq, President Obama stood at Fort Bragg and declared, "The war in Iraq will soon belong to history." That may be true, but it's vital that our accounting of the failures that led to this tragedy not be relegated to the past. Does President Bush, while painting his pictures in Texas, ever look back and assess the worst decision of his presidency (and that's a pretty high bar)? It seems doubtful, but that doesn't mean the rest of us shouldn't.
No doubt there will someday, rightly, be a monument to those who bravely fought and died in Iraq. But for the 10th anniversary, let's also build online monuments dedicated to those who planned and provoked and fomented the war, so we can join in the struggle of memory against forgetting.
(Arianna Huffington is president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)