Baghdad (GPA) – This week, researchers at Brown University published the results of a study that calculated just how much the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had cost the country since 2001. The researchers estimate the price of US intervention and the war on terror to currently be around $3.7 trillion.
The researchers factored in a wide variety of costs, beyond just the initial spending for arms and occupation. The total projected price tag; which includes the original costs of the Iraq war, veterans health care, infrastructure investments, the training programs in occupied countries, programs for prevention/response to terrorism and even the interest on the money borrowed to cover all of this. The conclusion the team came to was that the war on terror would have cost around $4.8 billion as of 2017.
To put that much money into perspective; it will be around one-quarter of the United States’ national debt and this will be the most costly military endeavor since World War II. One significant difference between this conflict and previous US wars is that this one was paid for primarily on credit; a tactic not used since the revolutionary war when money was borrowed from the enemies of Britain.
The interest alone on the money borrowed for the war on terror has already added up to around $500 billion. Although, the Bush administration began the war with the surplus left over from the Clinton administration.
The surplus ran out around the same time that tax cuts passed for America’s wealthiest citizens. With the decreased revenue; more cuts were needed in domestic programs to keep financing the war. The final step was for the US government to begin purchasing treasury bonds.
The debts for the war on terror pretty much factor into the day to day operations of the US government. Financial experts now warn that this reckless spending will most likely impede future preparedness for real emergencies and that if spending stays on this course; the interest on the borrowed money could surpass the actual cost of operations.
The Real Costs of the Iraq War
The financial reality of the War on Terror is astonishing to those who pay attention and realize the costs of the Iraq war– and all wars– can’t be kicked down the road forever. Perhaps if US politicians had been honest about the price tag to begin with, the American people would’ve had a very different outlook on the longest conflict in our nation’s history. We may not be feeling the full effect of the extreme cost now, but when we do the American people may be as outraged as they should have been from the outset of our never-ending war.
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.