Among Other Things, the Iraq War Is Very Expensive

The latest tally?

The war in Iraq could ultimately cost well over a trillion dollars — at least double what has already been spent — including the long-term costs of replacing damaged equipment, caring for wounded troops, and aiding the Iraqi government, according to a new government analysis.

The United States has already allocated more than $500 billion on the day-to-day combat operations of what are now 190,000 troops and a variety of reconstruction efforts.

In a report to lawmakers yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that even under the rosiest scenario — an immediate and substantial reduction of troops — American taxpayers will feel the financial consequences of the war for at least a decade.

The calculations include the estimated cost to leave some US forces behind for at least several years to support the Iraqi government, but they also predict other long-term costs, such as extended medical care and disability compensation for wounded soldiers and survivor’s benefits for the families of the thousands of combat-zone fatalities.

The cost of the war in Iraq and other military operations has soared to the point where “we are now spending on these activities more than 10 percent of all the government’s annually appropriated funds,” said Robert A. Sunshine, the budget office’s assistant director for budget analysis.

And with that, a little of this:

First they tried lines of empty boots, then ribbons bearing the names of the more than 3,000 dead U.S. soldiers. Now anti-war protesters are trying a fresh tactic: appealing to American worries about their wallets.

Proclaiming that one day of the Iraq War costs $720 million, or $500,000 a minute, the Quaker pacifist group American Friends Service Committee is taking the money-focused message to a dozen U.S. cities in a series of seven-foot (more-than-one-metre) banners.

The banners stress what could be bought with the war dollars: one banner says that the tax funds spent in Iraq each day could pay for 84 new elementary schools, while another says it could pay for health care for more than 163,000 people.

These messages will harmonize well with an upcoming war tax resistance campaign that’s designed to get thousands of Americans to resist the portion of their taxes that pays for war in the Middle-East and redirect it to better causes. (I’ll share more details on this project as it starts to go public.)