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The True Cost of the War on Terror

Economics / Iraq War Jan 28, 2006 - 04:30 PM GMT

By: Sarah_Jones

Economics

NEW STUDY SUGGESTS ECONOMIC COST OF IRAQ WAR MUCH LARGER THAN PREVIOUSLY RECOGNIZED

A new study by two leading academic experts suggests that the costs of the Iraq war will be substantially higher than previously reckoned. In a paper presented to this week's Allied Social Sciences Association annual meeting in Boston MA., Harvard budget expert Linda Bilmes and Columbia University Professor and Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz calculate that the war is likely to cost the United States a minimum of nearly one trillion dollars and potentially over $2 trillion.


The study expands on traditional budgetary estimates by including costs such as lifetime disability and health care for the over16,000 injured, one fifth of whom have serious brain or spinal injuries. It then goes on to analyze the costs to the economy, including the economic value of lives lost and the impact of factors such as higher oil prices that can be partly attributed to the conflict in Iraq. The paper also calculates the impact on the economy if a proportion of the money spent on the Iraq war were spent in other ways, including on investments in the United States

“Shortly before the war, when Administration economist Larry Lindsey suggested that the costs might range between $100 and $200 billion, Administration spokesmen quickly distanced themselves from those numbers,” points out Professor Stiglitz. “But in retrospect, it appears that Lindsey's numbers represented a gross underestimate of the actual costs.” 

So how could the $1 to $2 trillion stack up ? The most current estimates of the war's cost start with figures from the non-partisan US Congressional Budget Office, which as of January 2006 counted $323 billion in expenditure for the war on terror, this includes military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon has been spending about $6 billion a month on the war in Iraq, which is about the same as the gross GDP of Nigeria.

Say the war runs for another 3 years thus the direct cost would be $650 billions. A further $300 billion for the future healthcare costs of the wounded solider's, and the balance of $150 due to the impact of high oil prices, and thus a estimated total of $1 trillions. off course of the war goes on for more then 3 years then the costs could creep towards $2 trillions !


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