Calculating the Cost of the Iraq War


The Kansas City Star reports on two recent guesstimates about the true cost of the Iraq war and occupation:

Congress appropriated $357 billion from 2002 through the end of 2005 for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and related security issues, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

But two research papers suggest that those numbers don't tell the whole story. When nonbudget economic factors are added, the true cost to the U.S. economy over the next decade could be anywhere from $657 billion to $2 trillion for the Iraq war alone, they estimate.

The researchers include what they estimate continued military operations in Iraq will cost over the next decade–as much as $266 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Whole thing here.

Both of the estimates–one coauthored by Nobel laureate and Bush critic Joseph Stiglitz and one coauthored by American Enterprise Institute researcher Scott Wallsten–affix dollar amounts to the lives of U.S. soldiers killed and injured in action.

In a column for Bloomberg, another AEI hand, Kevin Hassett notes that Larry Lindsey was sacked by President Bush for suggesting the war could cost as much as $200 billion. Hassett also does a quick back of the envelope calculation for World War II and concludes that the Good War cost about $350 trillion in today's dollars. He further notes that the cost doesn't necessarily invalidate the effort and writes that the estimates aren't higher because of the insurgency. Rather, "they're higher because an incomplete picture of the true economic costs was presented to the public at the start of the war. Economists as a whole did a poor job of wiring the true figures into the discussion."

His col is here.