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The True Cost of War

iran-iraq_war.jpgI found a fascinating article in the UK Guardian written by a Noble-prize winning economist about the cost of the Iraq war for America, and it’s kind of mind boggling. He estimates that, all told, the war will cost America $3 trillion, and about the same for the rest of the world. Here’s a taste of some of the more eye-popping figures:

$16bn The amount the US spends on the monthly running costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - on top of regular defence spending
$138 The amount paid by every US household every month towards the current operating costs of the war.
$19.3bn The amount Halliburton has received in single-source contracts for work in Iraq.
$25bn The annual cost to the US of the rising price of oil, itself a consequence of the war.
$5bn Cost of 10 days’ fighting in Iraq.
$1 trillion The interest America will have paid by 2017 on the money borrowed to finance the war.
3% The average drop in income of 13 African countries - a direct result of the rise in oil prices. This drop has more than offset the recent increase in foreign aid to Africa.

The article then adds this, by way of context:

Stiglitz and Bilmes list what even one of these trillions could have paid for: 8 million housing units, or 15 million public school teachers, or healthcare for 530 million children for a year, or scholarships to university for 43 million students. Three trillion could have fixed America’s social security problem for half a century.

Can you believe that? We could’ve funded 15 million school teachers for the cost of a meaningless war. But the number that pops out at me the most is that each family in America is spending $138 per month on the war effort — I’m not a mathematician, but that is, like, about one percent of the average income earner’s salary, right? And thanks to the Iraq war, that $138 would only be enough to fill your car tank full of gas twice a month.

Moreover, while the average soldier makes $40,000 a year, the average contracted security guard makes $400,000 a year in Iraq — and because of high health insurance premiums, the government is picking up the tab on the contractor’s health insurance, too.

George Bush has fucked us even more than I imagined. Anyway, do check out the article. It’s eye opening, to say the least.

| Comments (7)


Thanks. Because I wasn't furious enough at the government. I needed a little extra rage to fuel the fire.


I don't like talking about what could have been bought with the money spent on the war because it should not be spent on anything; it is deficit spending.

That is just mind-bottling.

Yea, I referenced that movie.

I'm a contractor myself and I thought that I couldn't afford insurance. Who knew that I could actually afford insurance for someone who makes $400,000 a year to break the Geneva convention. Thanks for the good news!

I'm glad that my head can't like, actually explode, because if it could, it would have just now.

3 trillion is a lot of money but not so much compared to the 30 trillion dollars worth of oil under the sand of that hapless place. Politicians are known to say: "we're going to war and sacrifices will have to be made" and the people buy it. They never say: we're going to war and we're going to share all that plunder with you good folks who support us".

Wow. Thank you so much for that link. I was happier before I read it, but I needed to know that. The only thing that pisses me off more than the $3 trillion we've borrowed from the Chinese to fight this insane war is the fact that a google-news search shows plenty of coverage for this book... almost all of it in the foreign press. This should be front page news on any paper worth its ink.

Seriously, if the Republicans have the gall to call us "tax and spend liberals" ever again, I pray the Dems have the balls to point out that Taxing and then Spending is actually the sane way to run a country - BORROWING and spending, on the other hand, runs us, and our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, into the ground...