Iraq War Cost
August 22, 2005 2:08 PM   Subscribe

How much has the Iraq war cost to date? Cite sources please.
posted by Manjusri to Law & Government (11 answers total)
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posted by captainscared at 2:32 PM on August 22, 2005

1,866 American soldiers dead.
14,021 American soldiers injured.
255 non-iraqi civilians dead.
194 Coalition troops dead.
23,589 Iraqi civilians dead.
$204,600,000,000 in direct military spending.
$4,800,000,000 in foreign aid directly related to the war (That is just Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Israel) and another.
$19,500,000,000 in loan guarantees to Egypt, Israel and Turkey.
Plus sunk costs that are offloaded to individual states, especially relating to Reservists.

I used the lowest available figures at all points, and didn't include future spending which is not yet official, but is clearly unavoidable.


posted by mosch at 2:39 PM on August 22, 2005

Linda Bilmes' op-ed piece in the NY Times cites the figure $250 billion. She also projects the total cost could easily reach over $1 trillion by the time the final bill is paid.

This CS Monitor piece from last May puts the total cost of the war to that time at $190 billion, and the ongoing costs at $5 billion a month. (That's the budgeted cost, not necessarily the actual cost, I think.)

The Council on Foreign Relations has some background information on the subject, but it's dated June, 2004.
posted by arco at 2:40 PM on August 22, 2005

Any resources on how much the Brits/Italians etc. have spent on this War?
posted by gsb at 3:13 PM on August 22, 2005

The NY Times (registration required, except via bugmenot, etc.) just had an article , including a sidebar table , that estimated the U.S. total (for both Afganistan and Iraq, but almost all is Iraq) at more than $1.3 trillion. That included:

* 258 billion for operations, to date
* 460 billion for operations for the next five years [so if we pull out in, say, 2007, this drops substantially]
* 220 billion of interest costs [this depends on other costs, of course, as well as how long it takes to pay off this debt - if ever]
* 315 billion in veteran's costs (disability payments and health costs) [this is clearly UNDERSTATED; it uses the Gulf War to calculate per-soldier costs, and it only counts military members who have served to date]
posted by WestCoaster at 3:26 PM on August 22, 2005

No wonder Lawrence Lindsay was fired for saying the war would cost $100-200 billion--his estimates were way too low. It's OK, though; Iraqi oil revenues will be paying for reconstruction costs relatively soon.

And then there are the opportunity costs.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:33 PM on August 22, 2005

...the total cost could easily reach over $1 trillion...

Whenever I see figures like that, I can't help but wonder.... if we taxpayers invested $1 trillion into developing some sort of sustainable alternative energy source that could power our cars and get our nation off of its oil dependency, would $1 trillion be enough to significantly get the ball rolling in that regard? Or would it take like $100 gazillion? I really have no idea how much massive research projects like that cost, but it seems like $1 trillion isn't peanuts, and when I hear about stuff like hydrogen cars, the main problem is always that it's too expensive. Would a $1 trillion in venture capital help?
posted by spilon at 4:41 PM on August 22, 2005

Do some research and you'll find that a tiny fraction of the numbers thrown around above (like, $1 billion) would do absolute freaking wonders for alternative energy, medical research, space exploration. It's completely unreal how much money is being blown on this.

Keep this in mind the next time you hear about so-and-so trumpeting how they've allocated $40 million dollars to fund Noble Research Cause X. Do the math.
posted by intermod at 8:50 PM on August 22, 2005

There is a notable concurrent example: the ITER international joint fusion reactor program, which will build a $10 billion+ experimental reactor in France. The US (after initial reluctance and NIHism) will contribute about $350M annually to the effort beginning in 2007.

It's true that alternative energy sources require investment, but it's also misleading to suggest that spending even billions will necessarily create something that can replace the role that oil has in modern society. Fusion is the only really promising candidate where there's a breakthrough point and a massive downline benefit. Other types of sources -- from wind power to solar to geothermal to whatever -- is already a largely known parameter and all we can do is increase the efficiency of our draws from these sources. Solar cells, if I remember the numbers right, have gone from about 5% efficiency in the 1970s to something like 15-20% efficiency now -- and it's accepted that it really, really isn't going to get much better, so there are minimum sizes for solar panels per desired output, and the constraints that we have to deal with are manufacturing costs, which may get better with volume but won't get spectacularly less expensive in the near future.

Or would it take like $100 gazillion? I really have no idea how much massive research projects like that cost, but it seems like $1 trillion isn't peanuts, and when I hear about stuff like hydrogen cars, the main problem is always that it's too expensive. Would a $1 trillion in venture capital help?

We really don't know how much things like this cost in advance, is part of the problem. It's money-pit research, until there's an unpredictable breakthrough discovery. It would be $20 and the undergrad down the street figures out how to achieve world peace, and this time it will really, really work, but then the Vogons come ... or it could take $20 gazillion and we never really see a breakthrough. That's the main reason the auto industry is "reluctant" to commit to more fuel efficent engines, because to them this sort of research isn't something they can really count on, and they've already tossed a pretty penny down that well.

It's an enormously different thing to create a more fuel-efficient engine that works, and one the average car-buyer can afford. We've got the first. I think if the second were true that Detroit would be leading the way instead of dragging its feet.

Hydrogen cars are certainly possible, but they have their own problems, and they're a lot less flexible as vehicles, which affects the question of whether the public will buy them. That's apart from questions of supply chains (where do you refuel?) and construction.

Um, this is off topic.
posted by dhartung at 10:42 PM on August 22, 2005

Um, this is off topic.

Yeah, I know. In retrospect, I guess I shoulda started a separate AskMe thread. Oh well. I think the whole thread is interesting though, and at least tangentially related. So thanks for the info....
posted by spilon at 7:04 AM on August 23, 2005

Even so, let's just put this into perspective: The annual budget for the National Institute of Health (a major granting organization for academic research here in the US) was $28 billion dollars this year, while the National Science Foundation got $5.6 billion this year. The NIH funds a scary percentage of publicly available medical research, just FYI.
posted by Mercaptan at 1:42 PM on August 23, 2005

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