Bush Lowballed Us on Iraq by $6 Trillion

Source: MoJo






Category: Digital Media, Really, really bad calls, War/Defense

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

41 Responses to “Discuss: True Cost of Iraq War”

  1. • The same delusion that led to the Iraq War won’t let America admit that Republicans are the problem (eclecta blog)
    • 10 Best Replies to Rumsfeld’s Disgusting Tweet About ‘Liberating Iraqis’ (AlterNet)
    here’s why I never listen to this jackhole anymore: Thomas Friedman sums up the Iraq war… (5/29/2003) (YouTube) Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion (Reuters)
    • The Iraq War Ten Years After (The National Security Archive)

  2. James Cameron says:

    Here, I believe you can send warrior-scholar Paul Wolfowitz:


    a big, fat thank you using paul.wolfowitz@aei.org for six trillion dollars worth of memories . . .

    And if that doesn’t work I’m sure his assistant will be happy to pass on your happy tidings.

  3. RW says:

    It would be belaboring the obvious to point out that the true cost of the Iraq war couldn’t be measured in dollars but I’m not sure it can be measured even if constrained to a monetary dimension.

    I mean the entire region is now destabilized with an Iran no longer constrained by a strong regional enemy on its border, Afghanistan spiraling out of control at least in part because we lost focus there making a mess* in Iraq, Pakistan convinced they must work with the Taliban due at least in part to that reality.

    If it comes to that the loss of our own sense that leadership had any idea what it was doing and/or was even faintly interested in the country they claimed to serve (at least more interested than they were in looting) will also have its costs.

    Don’t have any idea how to estimate any of that myself.

    I do believe though that when the analysis is more fully developed over the ensuing decades the foreign policy of the Bush/Cheney administration will win the historical trifecta for worst in US history on three salient dimensions — lousy strategy, planning and implementation — with bonus points added for levels of corruption the shades of Presidents Harding and Nixon would doubtless appreciate.

    *The final report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction is simply damning: The country is materially worse off than it was before we invaded and we wasted an unbelievable amount of money (and lives) making it that way; e.g., the lack of sound planning and control of resources is nothing less than astounding.

  4. raholco says:

    How does the underestimating of the Iraq action by USD$6 billion compare to (let alone justify) the of thousands lives lost in the US, the tens of thousands of US lives negatively impacted by the action, and the hundred of thousands of Irqai lives lost, the millions of Iraqi’s displaced, and the near extinction of Iraqi Chaldean Catholics? Are we so willing to assign $ 6 billion to the hundreds of thousands lives altered by GWB’s “They tried to kill my daddy” complex ? And Yoo’s getting ready to publish a book codifying and vetting the whole notion of pre-emptive war. Let’s see what Washington’s Blog comes up with on this ‘anniversary’.


    BR: That’s 6 TRILLION with “T”

  5. billybob says:

    This is a cluster-f**k fractal of epic proportions. Chimp-boy and Vice-Satan did a magnificent job taking the country down the toilet on this one.

  6. key-bit says:

    My area of expertise – this seems a little low but reasonable.

  7. skyblu5555 says:

    1. We knew in 2003 Bush II, Cheney et al. planned long before to invade Iraq. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe plus the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury in addition to the US population thought it was insanity to invade Iraq and brought as much peaceful pressure to bear on the reptilian pols to no avail. We couldn’t stop our ‘government’ from betraying and defying our Constitution let alone our nation’s moral underpinnings.

    2. So what! We knew trillions were being thrown at this international war crime for oil with the added net result of ‘starving government to the size of a bathtub in which it would be drown’. And yes, we DO see the results in the US: 600,000 veterans with disability and health claims sitting and sitting for at least up to a year not processed or in some cases, thrown out! Suffering military families; suffering warriors and veterans; noone to process claims.

    3. We DO see the results on the ground, daily: AUSTERITY. The government turning now against its own people.
    Fake fiscal cliffs; austerity; hyperinflation. Torture of a different kind. No employment for vast numbers of American young people.

    4. America has no will. 40% of U.S. Tax Revenue owed to the US Treasury remains in the Canary Islands and other offshore accounts and Swiss Banks. As police are laid off in droves, public education is ridiculed and systematically privatized, the American people are being suffocated by the debt payments of State, local, county governments; Authorities and School Districts; government assets are sold, i.e. privatized to international corporations, we lost our conscience and our democracy long ago.

    5. Tsk, tsk, tsk. The horror of it all. But here we sit, motionless.

  8. wally says:

    Would Saddam have left the country for a measly $500 billion or so?

  9. mappo says:

    The Iraq war was paid for with debt that will never be repaid; we will continue paying interest on it forever. So if we’re adding in interest, then the true cost is infinite. The US never pays off old debt. It has almost never even stopped accumulating new debt each year.

  10. postman says:

    There was solid bipartisan support for the Iraq War as well as a widespread belief that Saddam had or had access to weapons of mass destruction. So the Democrats share blame for getting us into this horrible war (the Tom Friedman youtube cited in BR’s first comment provides just one example of left-wing support for the Iraq war).


    BR: You are misrepresenting it. This was a NEOCON driven war, a far right fantasy. That is managed to persuade some or even many people on the opposite side of the aisle does not make it a bipartisan idea.

  11. ilsm says:

    For $6T Project for New American Century (PNAC) is likley not satisfied!

    Operation Iraqi Freedom, the US spent trillions to kill enough Iraqis so they are “free” today and are still not a launching site for al qaeda attacks on the US.

    What are the benefits? Saddaam Hussein is ousted, Malik alive in the Green Zone, Kurds are somewhat autonomous (Turks not happy there), Shi’a factions better off, Shiite factions armed by US, Iran supports Shi’a factions. Iraq a loose confederacy.

    The Iraq quagmire is an application of “forward defense” dogma which is justification to maintain high tech forces to engage in 2.5 major wars, using WW II formations against vastly inferior adversaries while an alternate (one of many lower cost) strategy of “point defenses” was not tried.

    Deposing Saddaam and the Iraq occupation are an expensive method of the selling of the military industry congress complex.

    For the money and casualties there were no lessons learned.

  12. farmera1 says:

    In blood and money the cost was horrendous. Offensive political wars have a way of burying those that start them. Who was the General that got fired when he said the war would cost a lot more than had been acknowledged???? Don’t remember his name.


    134,000: Civilians killed directly.
    655,000: Persons who have died in Iraq since the invasion that would not have died if the invasion had not occurred.

  13. MojaveMax says:

    And once again we see that no one is held accountable. There isn’t even a discussion of holding anyone accountable.

  14. nofoulsontheplayground says:

    I recall a $4-Trillion number back in 2006, so this is a little higher than that.

    If you counted the additional risk premium in the oil futures prices because of the conflict, you could conservatively add another $1.5 trillion globally, although the US share of that is probably only $300-billion. You could probably double that if you accounted for the impact of lowered oil production during the Iraq conflict and occupation.

    Meanwhile, I’m amped about this new carbon nanotube desalination process that is 100-times cheaper than conventional reverse osmosis systems.

  15. i-power says:

    Absolutely NO ineptitude on planning for the invasion of Iraq. Todays wars are purposely designed to funnel money to “buddy” corporations – as a primary goal. Destabilzation and spending trillions was intentionally part of the plan from the beginning and executed with brillance. These are not stupid people, just greedy.

  16. dow says:

    6 Trillion is about equal to four years of health coverage for every man woman and child in the United States for 4 years.

    Imagine the new businesses that would have sprung up had employees had the freedom to leave their jobs to start their own enterprises.

  17. quadrillion.me says:

    Let me play a devil’s advocate here.
    Removing my sensitivity glasses — US gained considerable ‘war’ experience which may have led to some innovations, both in terms of technology and intelligence gathering. Things that may come handy in a real war.

  18. MidlifeNocrisis says:

    Unfortunately, oil and religion mix. Couple that with some Americans desire to “change the world”, or at least “police the world” and it’s a sure recipe for disaster.

  19. MikeG says:

    GWB’s “They tried to kill my daddy” complex

    A story which the FBI thought was BS.
    The Kuwaitis arrested a couple of Iraqi agentswith weapons while GHW Bush was visiting the country (after he left the White House), but wasn’t ever definitively demonstrated that they were targeting Bush.

  20. KV says:

    10 years and counting… Loss of half a generation.

  21. Syd says:

    Seems like we could have spent the money more wisely, on domestic infrastructure for instance.

    Here’s a chart for deaths from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan through Feb 2013. Over 200,000 of the estimated 330,000 dead were civilians.


  22. Casual_Observer says:

    In contemplating a decision to commit deadly resources and risk lives in the pursuit of a vital national interest, monetary cost should be largely irrelevant. If we’re thinking about cost as one of the initial decision points, then we’re probably asking the wrong questions. War should be made on someone else only if it is so important that we’re willing to pursue it to the utmost. The US’s post-World War II military engagements are largely failures because we have bought into this concept of limited military engagements–sanitary wars that happen somewhere else. If we’re not prepared to do what is needed, then we shouldn’t go at all. Thus, no Vietnam, no second Iraq war.

    This from a former, and repentant, supporter of said second Iraq war.

  23. WrteStufLA says:

    I wonder what’s meant by “increases to Homeland Security and Pentagon”…? Are those particular incremental dollars directly attributable to the Iraq War? (I really wish the Congress would authorize and fund an official, independent accounting that would be credible enough to take away the Neocons’ own denials and credibility.)

  24. ancientone says:

    As, I get older and older, I am extremely saddened watching this country destroy itself with false geopolitical and economic ideas…..it’s like watching a promising young person turn into a self destructive delinquent, a promising future not realized.

  25. romerjt says:

    Could Americans ever be convinced to do this again, like in Iran? As we speak . . . according to Julius Assange, Dreamworks is coming out with a movie in the Fall that will attempt to discredit Wikileaks, further demonize Iran (like Zero Dark Thirty?) and “confirm” the existence of Iranian atomic weapons.

    “Now, we have something here which is a recent acquisition of WikiLeaks, although we have been following the matter for some time, and this is the script to a tens of millions of dollar budget Dreamworks movie. What is it about? It is about us, nominally. It is about WikiLeaks the organization. It is a mass propaganda attack against WikiLeaks the organization and the character of myself and our activities and so on. But it is not just an attack against us. It is an attack against Iran. It fans the flames to start a war with Iran, and it’s coming out in November. It’s being filmed now. Benedict Cumberbatch is playing me. This movie has British involvement and people in Britain should be concerned about it.

    How does it open? Well – and this has not been previously disclosed before – the opening scene is in a military complex in Tehran. The camera comes in, closes up on a file, and it is a design for a nuclear bomb marked with nuclear symbols. There’s notes and whispers all around and they are in Farsi, they’re in Persian. There’s an older scientist speaking. A high-speed camera will measure the explosive charge we have designed to trigger the chain reaction. It is then revealed by the camera four scientists in white coats walking in a windowless corridor. The youngest, “Simsana” – remember that name, “Simsana” – writes on the file: “The dimensions of the payload are consistent with a Shabab missile.”

    Okay. That’s the opening scene. Iran is working on an atomic weapon. The opening scene of a film about WikiLeaks. How does this have anything to do with us? Well, we’ll come to it.”

    Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/03/julian-assange-previews-next-falls-zero-dark-thirty-propaganda-sequel.html#2XO5xm9klzU3ezAk.99

  26. Chad says:

    You have the measurable costs: $6T, over 4,000 Americans dead, over 30,000 Americans seriously wounded, thousands more with life shattering PTSD, and millions of Iraqi’s with all of the above (except for the $6T).

    You have the results of the war: we took a country who was a counter weight to Iran and made them into one of Iran’s closest allies. We also left Iraq in a perpetual state of war. We only sent a token number of troops into Afghanistan, because we were concentrating on Iraq. This allowed Bin Laden and most of al Qaeda and the Taliban to escape into Pakistan. In turn, this distabilizes Pakistan, which has a very large population, NUCLEAR WEAPONS, and routinely gets in minor skirmishes with India. Fail.

    What no one ever talks about is how the US wasted a golden opportunity. 9/11 actually created sympathy for the US in places it never existed and reinforced support for the US in areas/people that just want to live their lives (majority of people just want to live their lives, even Muslims). Instead, we killed, maimed, destroyed their business, lives, and gave anti-US leaders an easy recruiting/donation speach, which created more enemies to fight.

    We could have vastly strengthened our position in the world by spending far far less in lives and money. Instead we weakened our position with our “wins” in Iraq and Afghanistan. I grew up thinking we were better than this thuggery, but it turns out we weren’t.


    BR: Wasted opportunity? Yeah, we got that: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2004/11/the-tragedy-of-the-bush-administration/

  27. ami_in_deutschland says:

    @postman: Typical false equivalency! The neocons in the Bush administration orchestrated the entire lead up to the Iraq War, with the “facts” explicitly designed to justify the invasion. The truth of this has been available for at least ten years to anyone with the eyes to see.

    Here is just one example, a series of articles by retired Col. Karen Kwiatkowski in the American Conservative about the neocon takeover of the Pentagon preceding the war:


    The truth may yet even set you free…

  28. farmera1 says:

    Casual Observer;

    What you said is essentially the Powell Doctrine (pre-Powell’s deadly appearance before the UN to justify the second Iraq invasion); Don’t go to war half assed. Once you have boots on the ground you are fully committed whether you like it or not. Go big, go strong, with a full commitment or stay home. Since any pretense at justification for the invasion of Iraq was built on lies, and sand, this invasion never had a chance from the beginning. It was morally indefensible.

    Having personally seen up close and personal in Vietnam what happens when you fight political trumped up wars, I fully believe in the Powell Doctrine (but apparently Powell doesn’t since he was one of the great enablers of the second Iraq war along with Tony Blair). I blame Powell and Blair for making George Bush’s Cheney’s wet dream possible. Without those two supporting Bush, Bush would have looked to the public like the fool he was. These two gave Bush just enough street credit to justify his invasion before the public.

    And the rest as they say is history.

    Powell has said his appearance before the UN was the biggest mistake in his life. Sorry Colin, you don’t get off that easy. Sorry doesn’t cut it when trillions are wasted and hundreds of thousands of people die.

    Every war since WWII has been a political war, not as the Constitution requires declared by Congress. Those founding fathers knew what they were doing, but in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan we chose to ignore it. The outcome in each case has been a complete mess.

  29. Moss says:

    Starve the beast… no one should ever enlist for a War of choice.

  30. Casual_Observer says:


    Agree with all you say. Only clarification I want to make is that I don’t only mean “go big or go home” (and I know that’s not what you’re saying either). If that were the only requirement, then with our arsenal we could still commit war anywhere on the globe, excepting with China perhaps. So, any war has to be based on clear and convincing moral considerations and major national interests. (And the evidence should at least be equal to that which is required for a criminal conviction.)

    My point was that if, in your moral calculus, cost looms as one of the larger points of consideration, then it is very likely that the moral necessity is not sufficient. Said yet another way–I don’t care how much money World War II cost to prosecute.

  31. wally says:

    “no one should ever enlist for a War of choice”

    People do. That kept the British Empire going strong for a couple of centuries. However, the Brits were far more efficient than us at extracting economic value from their colonies.

  32. ashpelham2 says:

    The worst thing of all is that America as a nation and as a collective people never had any opinion in the matter. This war was decided upon by people who were “voted” into office, although the gross failure of the 2000 presidential election has to be considered one of our darkest moments in American history. We the People didn’t have a choice, and we won’t have a choice as to how this mistake will be paid for. And then there are the veterans. Those who have lost limbs and eyesight and hearing, who put their faith in their leaders, for a “war” that was really an attempt to settle an old feud.

    There used to be an argument that America should stop being the “police” to the world. I’ll counter that America doesn’t have the financial means to do it anymore, and HAS to stop being the traffic cop.

  33. rekesk says:

    This is a letter to Paul Wolfowitz from Andrew Bacevich. I’d stick it in the Iraq War thread but it really merits reading. The idiots who brought us this war deserve to be raked over the coals.


  34. 873450 says:

    The U.S. invading and occupying Iraq became certainty the instant SCOTUS handed the White House to Dick Cheney. At that point an inevitable war of choice over oil money only needed an excuse.

    The IRC should be amended to trigger automatic income tax surcharges on all individuals and corporations commencing 30 days after Congress authorizes, or POTUS unilaterally orders, U.S. military deployment into hostile territory.

    The “Patriot” tax surcharge will be:
    Automatic and Retroactive
    Progressive (1%-5%)
    Adjusted proportionally
    Adjusted quarterly to cover operational expenses
    Adjusted to cover projected future expenses
    Not subject to deductions (NONE)
    Military personnel serving in battle zones will be exempt
    Remain in effect until hostilities officially cease

    Short of a mandatory military draft service requirement, forcing elected politicians to impose a real-time, adjustable war tax on all Americans for the duration should make them think twice before sending our troops into harm’s way. We can end the ongoing nonsensical debate about how, because we neglected to pay for our wars, our senior citizens and poor should live in dumpsters eating dog and die sooner when their medical coupon expires. Neocons and chicken hawks will have to bite and scratch out Grover’s eyes to fund their phony wars.

  35. gman says:

    “ok, sure Iraq was a mistake…lets invade Iran”

  36. Deflator Mouse says:

    Are Bush, Chaney, and Rumsfeld war criminals? What do you call people who
    a) killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussain?
    b) killed more Americans than Usama bin Laden?

  37. rd says:

    Setting aside the actual cost in lives, dollars, and geopolitics, what Eisenhower understood but these neo-cons did not is that war is like business: there has to be a reason why you spend your people and your money in it instead of re-investing in your own country. You look for opportunities that will provide good long-term returns. The opportunities to do this are rarely wars and greatly increased military spending.

    One of the biggest costs of the war will be the opportunity cost. Instead of spending money on infrastructure, education, health care etc., the Bush Administration opted to blow the wad on blowing up other countries and consuming many of our young generation. As a reesult, we now have deficits, unemployment, hundreds of thousands of people in their prime earning years with physical disabilitiies and PTSD, infrastructure that is a decade older and a military-industrial complex that refuses to believe that they should receive less money just because the country stopped fighting major wars.

    We could have had the Bush tax cuts, filled ASCE’s $1 trillion infrastructure spending gap, and educated a healthy 20-40 year old cohort without having to run a deficit! Instead, we elected to destabilize the Middle East, run multi-trillion dollar deficits, and still not invest in our own country.

  38. imwtk says:

    From an investment point of view: the war has been widely publicized as being funded with borrowed money and the latest reports predict that interest paid on those loans range anywhere from 3 trillion to 7 trillion depending on how quickly they are paid off. I am trying to figure out who the major players where in providing those loans – it wasn’t the traditional Gov. Bonds, so what banks or entities were involved? They seem to have set themselves up for an intriguing option for investment.

    Does anyone have info/opinion on this subject?

  39. BobS says:

    Is there a destination worse than hell for Cheney, Rummy and Wolfie? Maybe Baghdad.

  40. Chad says:

    “BR: Wasted opportunity? Yeah, we got that: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2004/11/the-tragedy-of-the-bush-administration/

    I’m not surprised you wrote about this all back in 2004, it’s why your site is a must read everyday. Rational thought is rare.

    I agree with your Eisenhower and business comments about war. The party of “business” was unfortunately able to grasp this rather straight forward principle.