One Week at War in Iraq and Afghanistan for $3.5 Billion
By William D. Hartung
War is hell — deadly, dangerous, and expensive. But just how expensive is it?
In a recent interview, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz asserted that the costs of the Iraq war — budgetary, economic, and societal — could reach $5 trillion.
That’s a hard number to comprehend. Figuring out how many times $5 trillion would circle the globe (if we took it all in one dollar bills) doesn’t really help matters much, nor does estimating how many times we could paper over every square inch of Rhode Island with it. The fact that total war costs could buy six trillion donuts for volunteers to the Clinton, Obama, McCain, and Huckabee campaigns — assuming a bulk discount — is impressive in its own way, but not all that meaningful either. In fact, the Bush administration’s war costs have already moved beyond the human scale of comprehension.
But what if we were to try another tack? How about breaking those soaring trillions down into smaller pieces, into mere millions and billions? How much, for instance, does one week of George Bush’s wars cost?
Glad you asked. If we consider the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan together — which we might as well do, since we and our children and grandchildren will be paying for them together into the distant future — a conservative single-week estimate comes to $3.5 billion. Remember, that’s per week!
[For the remainder of this article, go here to TomDispatch.com]
William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation. He is the author of “And Weapons for All” (Harper Collins, 1994) and “How Much Are You Making on the War, Daddy? A Quick and Dirty Guide to War Profiteering in the Bush Administration” (Nation Books, 2004).