The True Cost of Bush’s Iraq War: $3 Trillion and Beyond

by Ben Hoffman

As the United States ends combat in Iraq, it appears that our $3 trillion estimate (which accounted for both government expenses and the war’s broader impact on the U.S. economy) was, if anything, too low. For example, the cost of diagnosing, treating and compensating disabled veterans has proved higher than we expected.


In 2003 — the year we invaded Iraq — the United States cut spending in Afghanistan to $14.7 billion (down from more than $20 billion in 2002), while we poured $53 billion into Iraq. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, we spent at least four times as much money in Iraq as in Afghanistan.

It is hard to believe that we would be embroiled in a bloody conflict in Afghanistan today if we had devoted the resources there that we instead deployed in Iraq. A troop surge in 2003 — before the warlords and the Taliban reestablished control — would have been much more effective than a surge in 2010.


When the United States went to war in Iraq, the price of oil was less than $25 a barrel, and futures markets expected it to remain around that level. With the war, prices started to soar, reaching $140 a barrel by 2008. Higher oil prices had a devastating effect on the economy.


There is no question that the Iraq war added substantially to the federal debt. This was the first time in American history that the government cut taxes as it went to war. The result: a war completely funded by borrowing. U.S. debt soared from $6.4 trillion in March 2003 to $10 trillion in 2008 (before the financial crisis); at least a quarter of that increase is directly attributable to the war. And that doesn’t include future health care and disability payments for veterans, which will add another half-trillion dollars to the debt.


The global financial crisis was due, at least in part, to the war. Higher oil prices meant that money spent buying oil abroad was money not being spent at home. Meanwhile, war spending provided less of an economic boost than other forms of spending would have. Paying foreign contractors working in Iraq was neither an effective short-term stimulus (not compared with spending on education, infrastructure or technology) nor a basis for long-term growth.

Instead, loose monetary policy and lax regulations kept the economy going — right up until the housing bubble burst, bringing on the economic freefall.

Read more…

The Iraq was may turn out to be the biggest blunder in American history. Lying right-wingers try to blame Obama for all our problems and the uninformed are buying into it, especially since the main-stream media perpetuates the lies. This country is on its last legs. 20 years from now, this country is going to be only a shell of what it once was. It’s going to resemble a plutocracy more than a democratic republic.

2 Responses to “The True Cost of Bush’s Iraq War: $3 Trillion and Beyond”

  1. “This country is on its last legs. 20 years from now, this country is going to be only a shell of what it once was. ”

    But I thought electing Obama would save us all from that?


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