INFORMED COMMENT--A Brown University political scientist estimates that as of 2016, The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have cost the American taxpayers $5 trillion. That number isn’t important when we consider the human cost: Some 7,000 US troops dead, 52,000 wounded in action; hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead who wouldn’t otherwise be, 4 million displaced and made homeless, etc.
Just to put that $5 trillion in perspective. Let’s say you chose five individuals. Each of the five will spend $10 million a day. That’s the cost of Heidi Klum’s mansion. They’d be buying the equivalent of five of those each day.
They’ll do that every day of their lives. All five of them. And then each of them will be succeeded by one their children, who will spend $10 million dollars a day, and one of their grandchildren, and one of their great-grandchildren, until 270 years have passed and it is the year 2286. That’s the equivalent of a stardate for Captain Picard of the Enterprise.
Neta Crawford, a professor of Political Science at Brown University published the study for Brown University’s Watson Institute.
Professor Crawford writes:
“As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $ 3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and o n Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $6 5 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $3 2 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion.”
The US has spent $1.7 billion for combat and reconstruction. I have a sinking feeling that first they spent half of it on destroying things and then they spent the other half on rebuilding them.
Through 2053, the US government owes the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans $1 trillion in medical and disability payments along with the money to administer all that.
“Interest costs for overseas contingency operations spending alone are projected to add more than $1 trillion dollars to the national debt by 2023. By 2053, interest costs will be at least $7.9 trillion unless the US changes the way it pays for the wars.”
Of 2.7 million military personnel who served in those two theaters, 2 million have now left the military and have entered the Veterans Administration system. Some 52,000 of them were wounded in action and many need care.
Because the Bush administration borrowed money to pay for the wars, we’ve paid half a trillion dollars in interest alone.
At least al-Qaeda had been based in Afghanistan. Iraq had had nothing to do with September 11. It was Bush’s invasion that brought al-Qaeda there, which later morphed into ISIL.
We were lied into that war, and it has weakened our economy. If anyone can tell me what benefits that war brought the average American, I’d like to hear it.
The Iraq War was a government-led Ponzi scheme and as usual the little people are the ones who took a bath.
(Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s website.)