Cost of U.S. Wars: $4 Trillion and 225,000 Dead

Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Just before the United States attacked Iraq in 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave his estimate of the war’s eventual cost. “If you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”
He missed it by about $4 trillion. In financial and human terms, the cost of America’s War on Terror has been very pricey.
After almost a decade of fighting, the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan have killed at least 225,000 people. This figure includes more than 31,000 people from the American military, private contractors and Iraqi and Afghan security forces, plus soldiers from U.S. allies. It also includes at least 137,000 civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The wars have also displaced more than 7.8 million people living in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The budgetary cost of the wars ranges from $3.2 trillion to $4 trillion, according to the Eisenhower Research Project based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. This expense, which factors in medical care and disability expenses for current and future war veterans, could increase by another $450 billion in spending by 2020.
By that time, the accrued interest alone on borrowing to finance the wars could total $1 trillion.
To give the cost of war some context, the U.S. government collected $2.16 trillion in tax revenue in fiscal year 2010 and has a national debt of more than $14.3 trillion.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Official History Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders (by James Glanz and T. Christian Miller, New York Times)


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