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August 29, 2005

World War III

The ($$$) cost of Iraq and Afghanistan:

Despite the relatively small number of American armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan (140,000), the war effort is rapidly shaping up to be the third-most expensive war in United States history.
This conflict has already cost each American at least $850 in military and reconstruction costs since October 2001.
If the war lasts another five years, it will cost nearly $1.4 trillion, calculates Linda Bilmes, who teaches budgeting at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. That’s nearly $4,745 per capita. Her estimate is thorough. She includes not only the military cost but also such things as veterans’ benefits and additional interest on the federal debt.
But even in stripped-down terms, looking only at military costs and using current dollars, the war’s cost for the US already exceeds that of World War I.
… In constant inflation-adjusted dollars, the current conflict is the fourth most costly US war, behind World War II, Vietnam, and Korea.
By the end of September, its projected military cost will be $252 billion. The amount spent on the war in Iraq ($186 billion) and Afghanistan ($66 billion) is “inching up” on the cost of the Korean War, says Steven Kosiak, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment in Washington.

Kosiak points out that, in relative terms, the present war should be easier than previous wars for the U.S. economy to absorb. Today’s defense budget, at about 4% of GDP, is less than half what it was during Vietnam, and little more than one-tenth of the 38% of GDP spent on defense in World War II.

In terms of cost per soldier, however, Iraq and Afghanistan are the most costly wars in U.S. history. And in human terms, the cost never varies.

Posted by Stephen at 6:14 PM in War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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