News Release

Iraq War: The Real Cost


In the recently released book The Three Trillion Dollar War, Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz conclude that the Bush administration drastically underestimated the economic consequences of the Iraq war: “By the administration’s own reckoning … the cost of the Iraq war, counting only the money officially appropriated, will soon be some $600 billion. … But even the $600 billion number is disingenuous — which is to say false. The true cost of the war in Iraq, according to our calculations, will, by the time America has extricated itself, exceed $3 trillion. And this is a deliberately conservative estimate. The ultimate cost may well be much higher.”

Bilmes is a former Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Department of Commerce. A professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, she co-authored The Three Trillion Dollar War. Bilmes said today: “There is no such thing as a free lunch and there is no such thing as a free war. After five years of war, 4,000 [American] deaths, 60,000 injuries, $600 billion spent so far (with the price tag expected to reach $3 trillion once we add veterans costs, military reset, interest on the debt, and economic losses), the U.S. public is waking up to the fact that the war is hurting the economy.”

She added: “In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll (completed March 14-16), 71 percent of Americans say that government spending on the war in Iraq is partly responsible for the nation’s economic troubles. The public has got it right: In our new book The Three Trillion Dollar War, we show how the war has weakened our economy.”
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