Iraq war may cost US USD 7 trillion

Press TV
Friday, February 29, 2008

Noble Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may cost the US up to USD 7 trillion.

When US troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration predicted that the war would be self-financing and that rebuilding the nation would cost less than USD 2b, but Stiglitz estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing America more than USD 3 trillion.

That estimate from the Noble Prize-winning Sttiglitz also serves as the title of his new book, "The Three Trillion Dollar War", which hits store shelves Friday.

The book, co-authored with Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes, builds on previous research that was published in January 2006. The two argued then and now that the cost to America of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is wildly underestimated.

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When other factors are added - such as interest on debt, future borrowing for war expenses, the cost of a continued military presence in Iraq and lifetime health-care and counseling for veterans - they think that the wars' costs range from USD 5 trillion to USD 7 trillion.

“I think we really have learned that the long-term costs of taking care of the wounded and injured in this war and the long-term costs of rebuilding the military to its previous strength is going to far eclipse the cost of waging this war,” Bilmes said in an interview.

The book and its estimates are the subject of a hearing Thursday by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine Corp colonel and Vietnam veteran, welcomed the effort by Stiglitz and Bilmes to quantify how much the wars will cost taxpayers.

“It's astounding that here we are about to mark the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and this administration still refuses to acknowledge the long-term costs of the war in Iraq,” he said.

By any estimate, the Bush administration's predictions in March 2003 of a self-financing war have proved to be wildly inaccurate. Stiglitz cites operational spending to date of USD 646b for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, working off estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, presumes that spending on these wars over the next decade probably will amount to another USD 913b.

Pentagon officials had no immediate comment on Stiglitz's book or his estimates.

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