War costs will top $2 trillion

The total cost, including debt servicing, of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could reach 2.4 trillion dollars by 2017, a non-partisan estimate found Wednesday, sparking fresh political rancor.

The report by the Congressional Budget Office flared tempers two days after President George W. Bush angered anti-war Democrats by requesting nearly 200 billion dollars more in emergency war funding.

The White House brushed off the estimate as speculation, but admitted that it did not know how much the war would cost.

For the first time, the CBO estimates included the huge costs of financing government borrowing used to pay for the wars.

CBO Director Peter Orszag, said the “bottom line” figure of war spending would be 2.4 trillion dollars under most intense scenarios of military activity, if future costs were not offset by higher taxes or lower spending.

“That is the highest number that is contained in our testimony, I don’t know whether it is a worst case scenario,” he told the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

But White House press secretary Dana Perino dismissed the CBO figures as “a ton of speculation.”

“It’s a hypothetical that was created based on questions that Democrats in Congress that don’t want us to be in the war asked the Congressional Budget Office to provide,” she said.

“We don’t know how much the war is going to cost in the future … you can’t project that far into the future.”

Committee chairman John Spratt said costs of the wars, which the Bush administration styles as twin fronts of the “war on terror,” were huge and rising.

“One can quibble with these assumptions and with the methodology, but no one can contest the enormous cost incurred so far in Iraq, or the likelihood that these costs will keep being incurred into the immediate future,” he said.

But the top Republican on the committee, Paul Ryan, said that while the costs were large, they paled in comparison to military spending during past foreign policy crises.

“We are well below the 50-year average … we do have a real conflict on our hands that is not going away any time soon.”

The CBO, which provides non-partisan budget analysis for Congress, said higher estimates for spending for the wars could start at 1.2 trillion and top out at 1.7 trillion dollars by the end of the next ten year period.

Under the most intense scenarios of US military activity, a further 705 billion dollars could be added to the cost by interest payments, assuming the wars continue to be largely financed by government borrowing, the report said.

The calculations were based on estimated costs up to 2007 for military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other war on terror spending.

They also included related spending on medical care and disability compensation for veterans, and survivors benefits and aid for building up foreign armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The CBO projected the total cost over the next 10 years under two scenarios, one with a sharp drawdown of US troops abroad, the other under a more gradual drawdown.

The first scenario envisaged 30,000 troops being deployed abroad in the “war on terror” would decline to 30,000 by the beginning of the fiscal year 2010.

Under the second more intense model, US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would be drawn down to 75,000 by fiscal year 2013.

The report found that interest costs for money already borrowed for the war on terror between 2001 and now would reach 415 billion dollars by 2017.

A further 290 billion dollars would be added to the price of the wars, if higher end estimates of spending between now and 2017 are added, the report said.

The CBO said so far, Congress had provided 602 billion dollars for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan — 70 percent of which was used in Iraq.

Lawmakers had also allocated 39 billion dollars for diplomatic operations and foreign aid to Iraq and Afghanistan and other nations under the “war on terror” umbrella.


  1. SEAL

    The thing that seems to have been totally lost by this congress regardless of party, loyalty, or anything else, is that you don’t continue to fight a war for someone else when there is nothing in it for you if you have to borrow the money from an enemy to do that and have no expectation of ever being repaid – AND on top of that – you must pay for all the damage the war has, is, and will cause.

    That is the concept given to us by this administration. That is what our congress supports.

    We are fighting to bring democracy to the Iraqi people? That’s what Bush says. The Iraqis say they do not want a democracy. Elections do not make a democracy. The Iraq constitution is a theocracy. Why are we fighting, again?

  2. barak

    The sad thing about that number is that it will finally cause the Democrats in Congress to get off their fat asses and do something. The worst thing about it is that they will realize how much of the ongoing pie they have not yet stuffed into their gullets and so that they can have their turn at our deep pockets,will cause the shit in Iraq to go on and on and on and on…
    This war is the license to steal that is the dream of all the fat cats in Congress. They all are licking their chops and getting ready to grab their share.
    They won’t end the war in Iraq because then they would have to find a new way to steal our money, and this war is just too easy and too good an opportunity to let slip away, regardless of how many American Servicemen and Women must die or be maimed in the process.
    They make me sick.

  3. Jerry

    Surely the cost will increase.

    Under traditional rules of international law, the invasion was illegal. Ten years from now, an Iraqi government would surely have the right to claim, under international law, war reparations which no-one has yet talked of.

    The Iraqis will say, “We did not ask you to depose Saddam, and we had no say in what was subsequently done. Our country suffered mightily from your illegal act, and we would now like you to pay for it.” Under traditional law (minus Bush’s own new doctrine of preemption which he cooked up in an attempt to legitimize what he was doing) they would be absolutely right.

    I point out that German banks and businesses were still settling WWII bills sixty years after the event, long after the original offenders were dead and buried, but the sins of the fathers do indeed get charged against the kids’ accounts.

    Some may protest that “we brought freedom!!” but this is like illegitimate sex. The act is illegal, and you can’t turn an illegitimate baby into a legitimate one by arguing you’re “a nice guy who brings presents.” Condi’s “birth pangs of democracy” were felt after Bush’s illegitimate one-night stand. America had better hope the father-in-law is very forgiving, because the law is not on Bush’s side.

  4. Steve Horn

    Dana Perino was quoted as saying “We don’t know how much the war is going to cost in the future … you can’t project that far into the future.”

    Well, since this war was designed by the current adminstration to never really have an end, since we’re not fighting a nation but an abstract concept (“terror”), which has no borders it’s quite likely that Dana is, for once in her life, correct (assuming that we continue our drive for world domination).

    If the congressional “leadership” had any courage they could stop the bleeding (both literal and financial) by refusing to provide further funding, but if history has shown us anything since the Democrats elected under a mandate to control the whitehouse and end the war, it’s that they lack the courage to try and save this nation.

    Perhaps the House “leadership” should send copious amounts of KY jelly to those whom they claim to represent – it might make getting f*cked by them a bit less painful.



  5. LurkingFromTheLeft

    I think Dana…

    …being correct is yet ANOTHER sign the end is near –

    …and you are correct Steve – we need more KY for we are so f*cked –

    …damn, I miss Tony more and more – even just reading her name makes me cringe – somewhere a fraternity is missing their house ‘cheerleader’ –


  6. dr. boris

    The two trillion plus figure was crystal clear at least a year and a half ago. So… what else is new? Mark S.

  7. Sandra Price

    You are correct Dr. Boris. It has been an open-ended cost since we first entered Baghdad. The voters have only themselves to blame. They put Bush back in again in 2004 and if they could he would be back in 2008.

  8. Stratocaster

    “We will not occupy the country.”
    “We are only there to search for weapons of mass destruction.”
    “This has nothing to do with oil.”

  9. Janet

    Let’s see…$2 Trillion for a war the Bush Administration lied us into, we never should have started and which is an endless disaster, $2 trillion for a war that the Bush administration lied and said would be paid by Iraqi oil…$2 Trillion for more American soldiers and Iraqi children to die in the Iraq war and a Bush veto for American Childrens’ health care…$2 Trillion to go further into a black hole of corruption and not accounted for? $2 Trillion for this unnecessary war while our bridges are falling down and our states are burning down?

    There really is an Anti-Christ. His name is George W. Bush. Is he only pro-life when it comes to fetuses and forcing women to bear children? Does pro-life stop once a child is born? Does pro-life not relate to all the kids being killed in Iraq for Bush’s stubborness? Does pro-life not mean we should be saving lives that already exist?

    As for Dana Perino, she’s a bimbo, in way over her head, and belongs on the Bush White House annex – Fox Noise Channel with the other news bimbos. At least Tony Snow was intelligent, even if you disagreed with him.

    Congress – both Democrat and Republican have to stop this bleeding now and put an end to it. LIsten to the people, for Heaven’s Sake! Stop playing politics with our lives and our money!!!!

  10. LurkingFromTheLeft

    Okay – we have our ticket –

    …Helen and Janet!

    …it has always amazed me how hypocritical Dumbass The 43rd can be – but then again, that is typical of his ilk –

    …yes, Dana should be on FauxNews – good place for her – that way we’d be spared from enduring her little hissy fits as Press Puppet –


  11. Ardie

    Well, maybe we could add a few trillion more with a double surprise attack on Iran. The first surprise would be the president attacking Iran without a declaration of war. The second surprise would be an Iranian counterattack that would close off all the oil to the world followed by throwing 50 divisions into Southern Iraq effectively cutting off the supply routes to U.S. forces in Northern Iraq, attacking, to boot, Kuwait.

  12. ekaton

    Bush is trying to goad Iran into an obvious attack so that he can respond without an authorization or a declaration of war from Congress. He and his cohorts do not think ahead beyond the current action. He is not, I shall presume, much of a chess player. On a different thread SEAL posted a likely Iran war scenario, and it ain’t pretty, and it IS pretty much what will happen. As for the forces in Iraq, should Bush attack Iran, I cannot help but wonder if Bush has ever heard of George Custer, another stupid, stubborn George.

    — Kent Shaw

  13. SEAL

    If Bush attacks Iran our soldiers in Iraq will find they have been standing on a giant ant hill and they will run out of shiite spray real quick. Here is what I said about this folly:

    I spent my life as a warrior for my country. I like to think I know something about wars, having fought in some of them. I like to think I know something about what battles should be fought and when, having had to make those military decisions. And there are some things I know for a fact. One of those is that attacking Iran would be the end of our nation as we have known it.

    From a military point of view, war with Iran would be a complete disaster. It isn’t a matter of whether we could win or not. We could win any war. We have complete dominance of the air and the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. But the use of one nuclear weapon against Iran (or anyone for that matter) means we lose. We would have an entire world full of military enemies. Forever! Every weapon in the world would be turned to point at us!

    We could wreak massive destruction upon Iran’s military installations, cities, and suspected nuclear sites with conventional weapons through the air. But, no matter how many troops we could muster, and there isn’t much left, we could never defeat this nation. They would fight to the very last man, woman, and child. But who is stupid enough to think we would only be fighting Iran?

    These lunatics in the White House cannot possibly believe the rest of the Middle East is going to stand by and allow this to happen. In the first place, they will be thinking they are next. It has been one, Afghanistan, two, Iraq, three, Iran, forth, me? And what will Russia and China do? Where do they get their oil from? You guessed it.

    We have already shut down the Iraqi oil. If we shut down the Iranian oil, who is left that has enough to supply the world? Even if the Saudis and Venzuela crank up to full capacity can they do it and for how long? Who thinks that Russia and China are going to stand by and do nothing and allow us to take over the worlds oil supply?

    But wait, where are we going to get our oil? Do you think anyone is going to sell us any? Try running the military without oil. Every drop we have would be diverted to the military. Visualize America with no gasoline.

    Or where would we get the money to buy oil and bombs and bullets? We have been running the Iraq war on money borrowed from China. Think they will loan us any more?

    Are these nutcases thinking that Europe would line up with us and Isreal against Russia, China, and the Middle East? That is WWIII! Do they actually think this would result in a victory for us? The WORLD would lose. These idiots have no conception of war. They have never seen it except on television. But, if they start this, they will see it up close and personal. Right here in the USA. There in no way we could recover from a world war. No one could. The world would be plunged into anarchy.

    War with Iran is the craziest idea anyone could ever come up with. If they drop one bomb in Iran it will be war. Iran WILL retaliate. Someone throw a net over these loonies and drag them off to the puzzle place for even considering such a ridiculous idea. Storming the barricades seems like a good idea right now.

  14. Janet

    Thanks LFTL, but I actually DID inhale.

    I’d love to see a Keith Olbermann/Jon Stewart ticket. Olbermann hits the nail on the head every time. And as for Stewart, you can’t fight a war while you’re rotflol (rolling on the floor laughing out loud.). And Larry Wilmore could be press secretary.

    BTW, who’s Helen?