Iraq War Latest Cost Estimate: Likely $6 Trillion Over Next Four Decades

From Reuters, the costs of heedless empire keep rising and rising:

Marines in Saddams palace DM-SD-04-12222Photo credit: Lance Corporal Kevin C. Quihuis Jr. (USMC) / Foter.com / Public domain

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.

When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war's death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said....

Excluded were indirect deaths caused by the mass exodus of doctors and a devastated infrastructure, for example, while the costs left out trillions of dollars in interest the United States could pay over the next 40 years.

The interest on expenses for the Iraq war could amount to about $4 trillion during that period, the report said.

The report also examined the burden on U.S. veterans and their families, showing a deep social cost as well as an increase in spending on veterans. The 2011 study found U.S. medical and disability claims for veterans after a decade of war totaled $33 billion. Two years later, that number had risen to $134.7 billion.

And far from being over and done, the CIA has lately been picking up some slack from the U.S. military in our Iraq involvement, helping Iraqis fight Islamist rebels in Syria--just some of them, not the other Islamist rebels who we are helping in Syria. It's all very complicated. There will likely be some good study about the costs of our involvement in Syria to get bummed about a few years from now.

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  • Jerry on the boat||

    How long before Shrike will blame everything on Bush?

  • DJF||

    Yes, but just think of all the broken windows it caused, it must have really boosted the economy.

  • JW||

    Excluded were indirect deaths caused by the mass exodus of doctors and a devastated infrastructure...

    KRUGABE BONUR.

  • Finrod||

    Never mind that the infrastructure was already devastated after multiple decades of dictatorship.

  • CatoTheElder||

    "It's all very complicated."

    Not really. The US government needs a continuous supply of new terrorists to perpetuate the war on terrorism.

    It secures the necessary supply of new terrorists by taking sides in religious civil wars waged in tribal societies. This is especially effective in societies that feel shame when wronged, place a high value on revenge, and have a history of feuds that extend across generations.

    Why does the USG want to perpetuate the WOT? Simple: war is indeed the health of the state.

  • Finrod||

    To add some context: while he was in power, Saddam Hussein averaged killing 100,000 of his own people every year.

    That means that a million Iraqis live now that very likely wouldn't have had the US not invaded. Even with the ones that died during the war (the blame of which goes largely to al-Qaeda, since they were targeting civilians), that's still over 800K lives saved.

  • Tman||

    I admit this may be a shallow reason, but I was for the war in Iraq precisely because I have a bunch of friends who are Kurdish who lost family members to Saddam in some of the most brutal ways imaginable. Some of them actually joined the US military just so they could help in removing him.

    I realize Saddam isn't any worse (technically) than say a Kim Jong-Il, but as PJ O'Rouke used to say, he had been awarded the "Lifetime Achievement Award for Evil" and no one in their right mind should have opposed his removal.

    I don't have a good answer as to why it should fall to the US to do the removing, other than no one else was going to. And here's what it looks like when no one gets involved, and the dictator basically destroys the country on his way out.

    http://www.channel4.com/news/s.....deo-russia

  • ||

    Well, what were you really for though?

    * Regime removal.
    * Regime change.
    * Total reconstruction.

    Because you may have just wanted the first, but you're paying for all three.

  • Tman||

    I understand that. And again, I'm not defending the way the war was handled nor the post war reconstruction. They were and continue to be giant clusterfucks. But I'm not sure that was avoidable. Removing a dictator like Saddam was bound to unleash a variety of unpredictable responses from a population that had lived under the bootheel of a psychotic madman for thirty years.

    It would be the same as removing the regime from North Korea. Who knows what the fuck will happen with those folks once they discover what a shit sandwich they've been eating for 50 years.

  • DWC||

    A trillion here, a trillion there... Is somebody seriously defending he war in Iraq???

  • Cytotoxic||

    The invasion and removal of Sadaam was economic and clearly worth it. The occupation and nation-building was a terrible idea.

  • KPres||

    Well, there are 57 million people who don't live under a cruel dictator anymore. Over 4 decades maybe that's 100 million people. So at $6 trillion, that's what, $60,000 stolen per somewhat-more-free Iraqi citizen?

    I guess it beats the stimulus's $200,000-ish per job.

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