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New Book Pegs Iraq War Cost at $3 trillion

March 15, 2008 09:06 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The authors of a new book say the Iraq War will cost America far more than anyone imagined. Initial estimates ranged from $50 to 200 billion.

30-Second Summary

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“The Three Trillion Dollar War,” by Nobel prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard public policy lecturer Linda Bilmes, estimates that the conflict in Iraq will end up costing the United States about $3 trillion, a far cry from what the Bush administration predicted.

The authors said that the cost of U.S. military operations in Iraq, now in their fifth year, have already exceeded the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam, and is more than double the cost of the Korean war.

When the war first started, Bush economic adviser Larry Lindsey estimated that the war would cost about $200 billion. Former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld estimated $50 to $60 billion.

Several studies have tried to calculate the true cost of the Iraq war. But estimates vary depending on how war costs are defined.

“’The Three Trillion Dollar War’ offers a valuable reminder that wars usually cost more than budget figures suggest,” Amity Shlaes, of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote on Bloomberg.com.

She doubted whether the authors should have factored today's high cost of oil into their calculations, and concluded, "The profs are off the mark when it comes to their larger charge that this conflict is necessarily darkening the U.S.’s future.”

Commentator Arianna Huffington at the Huffington Post criticized the media for treating foreign and domestic policy as separate entities: “While there is almost nothing about the Iraq war that can be labeled a success, we can declare that it has been exceedingly successful in showing how intertwined foreign and domestic policy actually are.”

The National Priorities Project, an organization that does research on how tax dollars are spent, has a ticker on its Web site with an ongoing estimate of costs from the war.

Headline Links: ‘The Three Trillion Dollar War’

Background: The economic cost of war

Opinion & Analysis: Debating the figures and their impact at home

Reference: Calculating the cost

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