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Cost of War in Iraq

Human Costs

Each American life lost has an estimated value of $1,000,000 according to insurance calculations. The dollar value of human capital consumed in Iraq is now over a billion dollars. For specific names of those sacrificed see But it is obscene to put a dollar value on a human being, especially the vibrant youth with a life ahead--and this has nothing to do with courage or patriotism.

The following summary table from Casualty Counter: is updated regularly.

Coalition Casualties< are somewhat greater.

It is anyone's guess how long violence will go on. The Israeli experience in Palestine indicates that it will continue as long as we are there. It may be quite some time, if ever, before we will be able to walk away from a stable, intact Iraq.

Dollar Costs
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The above is straight (almost) from the Congressional Budget Office.
The dollar cost is believed to be at least 15% under-reported.

for cost details
Direct Cost of War + Occupation of Iraq

That's a burn rate of about $7,000,000 per hour, over a billion dollars per week!

The total includes the cost of the war already spent added to estimated on-going costs. It is also adjusted periodically as improved information comes available. It does not include upgrading bases ancillary to the war, sunk costs in bases abandoned, the cost of antagonizing "Old Europe," the cost of the so-called "Patriot Act" or the resulting added cost of petroleum.

Precise numbers are not available for either present or future expenditures. Hawks invariably estimate low when they beat the war drums.

The spending bill passed by Congress provided for 12 major titles for funding and one for a decrease, the latter evidently because Iraq was not considered a complex foreign crisis.
  • $31.2 billion: Operations and maintenance
  • $13.4 billion: Military personnel
  • $1.4 billion: Support for coalition partners
  • $1.3 billion: Procurement
  • $502 million: Defense Health Program
  • $81.5 million: Research and development
  • $15.7 billion: Flexible "Iraq Freedom Fund."
  • $3.9 billion: Homeland Security
  • $7.5 billion: Foreign aid
  • $2.1 billion: Military Aid; about half to Israel
  • $148 million: nonproliferation funding
  • $2.9 billion: Airline Aid
  • Cut: -$150 million from slush fund for "complex foreign crises"

With the Bush tax cut, the poor and middle classes will pay a disproportionate share for decades to come. Dateline 18 Dec 2003 according to: Daily Misleader


In a high-tech cover-up, the Washington Post this morning reports the White House is actively scrubbing government websites clean of any of its own previous statements that have now proven to be untrue. Specifically, on April 23, 2003, the president sent his top international aid official on national television to reassure the public that the cost of war and reconstruction in Iraq would be modest. USAID Director Andrew Natsios, echoing other Administration officials, told Nightline that, "In terms of the American taxpayers contribution, [$1.7 billion] is it for the US. The American part of this will be $1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this."

The president has requested more than $166 billion in funding for the war and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan this year. But instead of admitting that he misled the nation about the cost of war, the president has allowed the State Department "to purge the comments by Natsios from the State Department's Web site. The transcript, and links to it, have vanished."

Is this Administration in touch with reality? That depends on your perception. If you believe reality is what has and is happening, then the answer is NO. If you believe a president "elected by special interests" instantly has infinite wisdom, that he must be believed no matter what, and can rewrite history to suit himself, then the answer is yes. These powers are reserved by most people for the creator.

The Daily Misleader goes on.

When confronted with the dishonest whitewash, the administration decided to lie. A Bush spokesman said the administration was forced to remove the statements because, "there was going to be a cost" charged by ABC for keeping the transcript on the government's site. But as the Post notes, "other government Web sites, including the State and Defense departments, routinely post interview transcripts, even from 'Nightline,'" and according to ABC News, "there is no cost."

This story is not the first time the President has tried to hide critical information from the American public. For instance, the president opposed the creation of the independent 9/11 investigative commission, and has refused to provide the commission with critical information, even under threat of subpoena. Similarly, after making substantial budget cuts, the president ordered the government to stop publishing its regular report detailing those cuts to states. And when confronted with a continuing unemployment crisis, the president ordered the Department of Labor to stop publishing its regular mass layoff report.

It is also not the first time the administration has sought to revise history and public records when those records become incriminating. As the Post reports "After the insurrection in Iraq proved more stubborn than expected, the White House edited the original headline on its Web site of President Bush's May 1 speech, "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended," to insert the word 'Major' before combat." And the "Justice Department recently redacted criticism of the department in a consultant's report that had been posted on its Web site."

Some headlines from a two day period in Sept 2004:

Day 1

"Outlook: The Growing Insurgency Could Doom U.S. Plans for Iraq, Analysts Say." Philadelphia Inquirer

"U.S. Plans to Divert Iraq Money: Attacks Prompt Request to Move Reconstruction Funds to Security Forces." Washington Post:

"Rebel Attacks Reveal New Cooperation: Officials Fear Recent Rise in Baghdad Violence Stems from Growing Coordination."Wall Street Journal

"In Iraq, Chance for Credible Vote is Slipping Away." Baltimore Sun:

Day 2

"U.S. Intelligence Shows Pessimism on Iraq's Future: Civil War Called Possible – Tone Differs from Public Statements."New York Times

"Insurgents in Iraq Appear More Powerful Than Ever." USA Today

Further commentary seems unnecessary, except perhaps for some wisdom form the past:

"War is cruelty. There's no use trying to reform it, the crueler it is the sooner it will be over."

"We can make war so terrible, and make them so sick of war that generations pass away before they again appeal to it."
William Tecumseh Sherman

" War is an extension of politics."  Carl Von Clausewitz

America is the world's greatest helping nation, or we were were until Iraq. We could have made visible and concrete use of the money saved by all of the following:
  • $7.5 Billion: safeguarding our ports
  • $4 Billion: upgrading the Coast Guard
  • $2 Billion: improving cargo security and screen cargo before it arrives in the US
  • $10 Billion: precluding shoulder fired missiles around airports
  • $5 Billion: upgrading baggage screening systems to state-of-the-art level $5 B
  • $7.5 Billion: adding 100,000 police officers
  • $2.5 Billion: doubling the sizes of fire departments
  • $24 Billion: adding two divisions to the army
  • $15.5 Billion: doubling the size of field-ready special forces
  • $0.24 Billion: equipping airports with walk-through explosive detectors
  • $3.0 Billion: improving security of mass-transit systems
  • $0.35 Billion: integrating emergency radio systems
  • $30.5 Billion: securing weapons-grade nuclear materials from theft world wide
  • $2.25 Billion: expediting nuclear warhead deactivation
  • $8.6 Billion: rebuilding Afghanistan
  • $11 Billion: financing crop conversions in Afghanistan
  • $10 Billion: increasing assistance to neediest developing countries
  • $0.775 Billion: quadrupling public diplomacy in Arab and Muslim world

The New York Times reported the above on 8 Aug 2004. They used an estimated war cost of $144.4 B.

Less tangible but perhaps no less important, what could either amount of money have done for:

  • furthering education everywhere?
  • enhancing the Peace Corps?
  • speeding a cure for cancer?
  • lowering US unemployment?
  • actively leading collective action against nuclear terror, the ultimate nuclear danger of our times?
  • keeping al Qa'ida in decline instead of giving them a rebirth and easy targets?
  • enhancing society's awareness of the dangers of modern extremism?
  • focusing increased "peaceful attention" on Africa where flames of dictatorships still burn brightly?
  • improving our expected life span?
  • creating jobs and capital instead of destroying them?
  • fostering cultures that free people to be what they can be; minimize influence of special interests by law; moderate expressions of extremism; earn the respect of other nations by moral behavior?
  • expanding our defenses against bio attack?
  • vastly improving air-travel safety?
  • improving highway safety, our greatest danger of dying?
  • finding and plowing bin Laden and mullah Omar into the ground?

Saving some 1500 American lives lost and counting would have come free. More wisdom from the past:

"Either war is obsolete or men are." R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983), New Yorker, Jan. 8, 1966.

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?" Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948).

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873).

"War is not its own end, except in some catastrophic slide into absolute damnation. It's peace that's wanted. Some better peace than the one you started with." Lois McMaster Bujold, 1990.

"'Nonviolence in Peace and War' Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed."Mao Tse-Tung (1893 - 1976).

"The way to win an atomic war is to make certain it never starts.": Omar Bradley (1893 - 1981).

"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee (1807 - 1870)."

"Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965). [Mr Bush obviously believes otherwise.]

"One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once 'The Unnecessary War'." Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965).

"The only winner in the War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky." Solomon Short.


So much for diplomacy in our age.

But one thing is certain:

Terror will be with us as long as conditions that humiliate or alienate others are allowed to exist.


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