What goes into the cost of a war? Soldier’s salaries, compensation, tanks, planes, munitions, rations, intelligence, lots of stuff; it’s all in the GAO report that Congress gets each year as they prepare to slip in their pet projects. But that isn’t the whole story; the Pentagon sees only a fraction of the total cost of a war.
Soldiers in Iraq aren’t working at home, but their spouses are, and probably trying to manage children in the process. When a soldier dies or is severely disabled, his whole life’s earnings go with him. Economic activity spurred by that lost income is also lost. Spouses and children may lose educational opportunities, default on mortgages, even go into debt as health insurance becomes scarce. Guardsmen in Iraq aren’t home when hurricanes strike. And since wars are fought on borrowed money, interest must be paid. International trade suffers. Every interconnected thread of the economy supports the loss, and many of the threads break.
“Scholars may differ in the minor details, but any serious study of the costs of the Iraq war will come to estimates in the neighborhood of $1 to $2 trillion,’’ said Joseph Stiglitz, editor of “The Economists’ Voice,’’ in a statement Thursday.
Stiglitz, a Nobel Laureate and former chief economist at the World Bank, published his own assessment of the cost of the Iraq War on Monday. Stiglitz’s paper was co-authored by Linda Bilmes of Harvard University…
- MercuryNews.com – Study puts ultimate cost of Iraq war at $1 Trillion
There are a lot of ways to frame the question; “What is the best use of a Trillion dollars?” Other questions include; “What is the best use of our military flexibility, which is now tied down in Iraq?” and “What does accountability mean?” How about “How much has our country been weakened by this debacle?”