True cost of Iraq war: Trillions

Such a deal.

The Iraq war already has cost a family of four $16,500, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

A new report from the Congressional Joint Economic Committee says the cost per family is going to be $36,900.

And total expenditures, direct and indirect, could exceed $3.5-trillion if the U.S. stays the course and keeps even 75,000 troops in Iraq through 2017 — hardly a rash assumption, since none of the leading presidential candidates in either party will pledge to have the troops home by 2013.  (To be fair, “only” $2.8-trillion is for Iraq, with the rest for war in Afghanistan.)

Amitabh Pal for The Progressive online:

Predictably, the analysis has the Republicans crying foul. They allege that the Democrats in charge of the committee have played with the numbers. But this is the right way to measure the cost of that unnecessary conflict. The budgetary impact, as large as it is, captures only a fraction of the economic toll on this country.

The report details the multiple ways in which the war has been detrimental to the U.S. economy. Most obviously, the turmoil in Iraq has contributed to a diminished global oil production, making all of us pay higher prices at the pump. The report estimates that the Iraq fiasco has contributed at least $5 per barrel to the increase in oil prices.

And then there are several other costs, too. The government has had to spend borrowed money for the war, diverting spending from more productive uses and paying massive interest payments on its war profligacy. Substantial sums have had to be paid for treating wounded war veterans. There have been several lifetimes of lost productivity for the injured. Considerable military equipment has been damaged. And the list goes on.

Even that dollar count, of course, doesn’t count the real toll of the hundreds of thousands of lives shattered beyond repair, a cost the world will continue to bear for decades.

UPDATE: The Pentagon has found one way to cut costs: By asking wounded vets to give back the signing bonuses they got for enlisting, because they couldn’t fulfill their contracts. More here.

Pal continues:

I’m not going to do that whole guns versus butter thing and lament about all the productive expenditure this money could have been utilized for. It’s giving the Bush Administration too much credit to assume that they would have guided all that amount to more rational uses. (For those interested in such numbers, the American Friends Service Committee has some heartbreaking comparative statistics on the myriad ways the funds could have been better spent.)

Cross-posted on Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus.


  1. Suggested tip: $36,900 for a family of four.

    • Valtin on November 21, 2007 at 22:45

    These numbers have no meaning anymore. It’s all about a magical realm where value has no existence, where narcissistic omnipotence and jejune assertiveness blunder blindly towards its catastropic conclusion, threatening to drag us all down in its heedless crash.

  2. Everything military is broken as well as the soldiers.  Even the National Guard equipment is all broke to hell….stuff that was really supposed to be used to put out fires and give aid after suffering hurricanes and tornadoes.  It’s going to cost a fortune to replace stuff and repair what can be repaired.  I’m so pissed.  It’s such a waste of lives and assets and for what?  The bad man Saddam is gone and our children will pay for his leave taking with their college educations…..what a legacy!  I’m so tired of people talking about the Bush legacy.  We are no where near fully grasping and understanding what legacy can be possible for Bush!

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