Monday, March 18, 2013

Ten Years on, New Estimates of the Economic Cost of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq. What have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the United States to date? What additional bills will come due in the future? Economists and budget analysts have made many estimates since the early 2000s. Only one regularity has emerged from their work: Each new round of estimates is higher than those before.

Last week the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University released a new set of estimates. The numbers are summarized on the web site of the institute’s Cost of War project and detailed in a paper by Professor Neta C. Crawford. The institute’s estimate of the total cost of the two wars now comes to just under $4 trillion.

It wasn’t supposed to cost so much

The wars were not supposed to cost so much. As the administration of President George W. Bush was building a case for the Iraq war in 2002, with some 5,000 American troops already deployed in Afghanistan, the question of cost naturally came up. In September of that year, Lawrence B. Lindsey, then Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, estimated that a new Iraq war would cost $100 billion, maybe $200 billion at a maximum. >>>Read more

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