Total Cost of the Iraq War Over $6 Trillion?


As we “celebrate” the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a new report says that the total cost of the war is over $2 trillion when you add together not only the immediate expenses but the ongoing expenses of caring for the veterans who came back with massive physical and psychological injuries. And that’s just the beginning:

The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.

The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

This is all compounded by the fact that we didn’t even bother paying for it while it was going on. It was entirely financed through debt, so the long term interest on all that debt is what pushes the total cost up so much higher over the long run.

Comments

  1. Trebuchet says

    Yet another story you won’t hear on Fox News. Or see in the Wall Street Journal, for that matter.

  2. says

    “Small government” only applies to things that are directly helpful to large numbers of citizens. It doesn’t apply to things that involve violence and control.

  3. DaveL says

    $4 million per dead civilian. Most countries can kill people way cheaper.

    Remember, when the government hires people and buys material for the purpose of killing people and destroying things in foreign lands, it’s called “freedom.” When it hires people and buys material for things like building bridges, providing health care, or modernizing power grids for citizens at home, it’s called “socialism.”

  4. Artor says

    What? You mean Obama isn’t responsible for our ballooning national debt & budget deficit? But that’s unpossible!!! Oh, I bet he must have used his time machine to go back and whisper in Bush & Cheney’s ears to get them to go to war under false pretenses. It really IS his fault. I feel better now.

  5. dingojack says

    The good news is that the whole thing should get paid off once you force Iraq* to sell 54.545454 billion barrels of oil** or so, or in about 43.4227 years!***. (By which time nobody much will be using it, Congrats you got to be stuck with obsolete tech for the next 40 or so years, ‘We’re number 1′ and etc.)
    Dingo
    ——–
    * That was the chickhawk’s Neo-con’s brilliant plan, remember?
    ** at likely price of US $110 per barrel in the foreseeable future (up to 5 years)
    *** If the USA ‘commandeers’ 100% of Iraq’s total current production of 3.4M barrels a day

  6. neonsequitur says

    Funny how refusing to write a blank check for an illegal war in a foreign country is “letting the terrorists win” but coming up with the money to help Americans get health care is “too expensive.”

  7. caseloweraz says

    I wonder how many of the “loyal opposition” will respond with something like this:

    Gee, and those librul economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman had nothing to do with this report!

    Hey course, it came out of Brown University — one o’them pinko-thinko colleges. So it can be ignored.

  8. caseloweraz says

    And the kicker is what we got for that huge expenditure.

    “The report concluded the United States gained little from the war while Iraq was traumatized by it. The war reinvigorated radical Islamist militants in the region, set back women’s rights, and weakened an already precarious healthcare system, the report said. Meanwhile, the $212 billion reconstruction effort was largely a failure with most of that money spent on security or lost to waste and fraud, it said.”

  9. AsqJames says

    I wonder if they factored in the financial impact of the damage to the United State’s reputation around the world?
    Also, it may now have been overtaken by the flying robot assassination program, but for most of the last 10 years Iraq was perhaps the primary recruiting tool for radical Islamists. How do you calculate the cost of that? There’s the direct costs of protecting ourselves from those new wannabe terrorists (a portion of every local and national law enforcement budget), the cost of propaganda efforts to de-radicalise them, the opportunity cost of having to focus on them (what else isn’t being monitored by CI/MI6?), the psychological stress of the elevated threat level spread across the population.

    Wasn’t the shoe bomber bloke angry about Iraq? What’s the monetary cost of taking the time to have every air passenger remove their shoes for x-raying?

  10. Larry says

    Ain’t it amazing how far you can go based upon lying? BTW, did George and his buddies ever find those WMDs they promised were in Iraq?

  11. dingojack says

    A study published yesterday noted the ongoing affects of the Bali Bombing on the family, friends, colleagues and the community some 11 years after the event.
    Now imagine the affect on the much more publicised and devastating (in terms of people, infrastructure and so on) of the London, Madrid and WTC attacks and multiply it by several orders of magnitude for the affects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (both internally and externally)
    Now calculate the the real cost of Bush’s Blunder on the world.
    Dingo

  12. slc1 says

    Re Larry @ #14

    Don’t you know, Iraq’s WMDs were shipped to Syria, according to the Washington Post’s prize wingnut, Jennifer Rubin.

  13. dingojack says

    SLC – how much do you think the A-Team, a B-52 and few 15Mt nukes would cost? :D
    Dingo

  14. theguy says

    @12

    “The war… weakened an already precarious healthcare system”

    (whips off sunglasses)

    Mother of God…

  15. gingerbaker says

    What you could buy for about six trillion:

    Enough solar PV panels, erected in an area in the U.S. south west, to generate enough electricity to completely replace all fossil fuel use. A brand new smart grid to distribute that electricity. Paying to retrofit every American home and business with the equipment and appliances they need to use only electricity, not fossil fuels. Installing electrically-powered inductive charging coils under our roads, so we don’t need big batteries in our electric cars. Buying an electric car for every driveway in America. The cost of hiring millions of unemployed workers to do all of these projects. Giving away that electricity for free – never charge a dime for it.

    In other words, solving global warming in America while putting thousands of dollars into American’s pockets every year, and showing the world how they can do the same thing with their desert areas.

  16. kermit. says

    gingerbaker, the cost is even greater than that, for we not only missed out on the chance to remake our infrastructure for the 21st century, but now we get to pay for the consequences of not doing that – global warming. How much will a Sandy every year cost us? How about a Sandy and a Katrina every year, plus drought?

    Still we’ll get a little bit back every year from selling coal to the Chinese. Let them put it in the atmosphere on their side of the planet.

    dingojack, there is also the cost of a new generation of trained and motivated terrorists.

  17. Pierce R. Butler says

    gingerbaker @ # 21 – Not that I disagree with your priorities, but as a former New Mexican (and present reader of Chris Clarke) I appreciate the deserts as deserts.

    However, I wouldn’t mind having rooftops and parking lots all shaded by vast arrays of PV cells…

  18. says

    @10:

    “Funny how refusing to write a blank check for an illegal war in a foreign country is “letting the terrorists win” but coming up with the money to help Americans get health care is “too expensive.””

    I think the Troo Bleevers(TM) consider both things to be treasonous.

    Pierce Butler@23:

    NIMD? {;>)

  19. Michael Heath says

    If this is true I wonder what the total net impact to GDP is? In the late-2000s I recall the finance experts asserting total expenditures would be somewhere between $1 trillion to $2 trillion where economists were predicting an economic cost, not benefit, of $2 to $3 trillion. In spite of the fact some wars can result in net increase in GDP. If expenditures total $4 trillion, what is the newly revised projection of the negative impact to GDP?

    War comes down to blood and treasure. Where there is no defense of this war when we first consider treasure. We don’t even have to make the case about the cost in blood, including innocent Iraqi blood.

  20. Pierce R. Butler says

    DemoCommie @ # 24 – You’re way ahead of me and urbandictionary.com both.

    How does my humble comment relate to
    Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy
    National Institute for Minamata Disease
    Novel Intelligence from Massive Data
    or
    Neuroleptic Induced Movement Disorder
    ?

  21. gingerbaker says

    How much will a Sandy every year cost us? How about a Sandy and a Katrina every year, plus drought?

    The world-wide cost of our present trajectory, by year 2100, is estimated to be $1240 trillion in recovery costs alone. Spending several trillion on a new national utility would be the best ROI the U.S. has ever seen.

  22. gingerbaker says

    gingerbaker @ # 21 – Not that I disagree with your priorities, but as a former New Mexican (and present reader of Chris Clarke) I appreciate the deserts as deserts.

    However, I wouldn’t mind having rooftops and parking lots all shaded by vast arrays of PV cells…

    The problem with rooftop solar is that it is many times more expensive than large-scale projects, which can be located in optimal climes, have standardized construction, huge economy of scale, no redundant systems, and which do not burden individual home and business owners with up front costs.

    It also, perhaps most importantly, changes the paradigm from private to public investment.

    On the topic of deserts… my snide response is not to worry.. Because if certain experts are correct, and we don’t reduce emissions to zero in the next 5 to 10 years, the entire breadbaskets of the world will become deserts over the next 100 years.

    Chris has also said that there is enough government land in the southwest that is not protected Mojave, but still gets the same sunshine characteristics, for a huge solar PV project on the scale I propose.

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