Iraq Bills Still Due

Costs of war rising

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The Iraq war could ultimately cost American taxpayers more than $5 trillion, according to a report published by researchers at Brown University on the 10thanniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The calculation, by the Costs of War Project at Brown's Watson Institute for International Studies, starts with $1.7 trillion in direct costs already accrued, including $770 billion in Defense Department spending and $86 billion in disability payments by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration. The researchers estimate that another $500 billion or so will be owed in veteran's benefits over the lifetimes of the war's fighters. Adding interest on the money that will have to be borrowed to pay these bills brings the cost to more than $5 trillion by 2054.

There's a human cost as well, of course. The study estimates at least 189,000 deaths are directly attributable to the war. That figure does not include indirect deaths due to war-related hardships such as food and medicine shortages, "which may total hundreds of thousands more."