The Cost of the War in Iraq

November 16, 2007 at 3:06 pm | Posted in Iraq | 2 Comments

I highly recommend this read. Mr. Cowen puts the costs of the war in Iraq in a proper perspective to show that, no in the end, it was not worth the cost.

1. We still have not secured our ports against nuclear terrorism. The $1 trillion we’ve probably spent on the war could have funded the annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security 28 times over.

2. The human toll of the war is dreadful: more than 3,800 U.S. soldiers dead and more than 28,000 wounded, plus more than 1,000 private contractors killed and many more injured. It’s harder to know how many Iraqis have died; some estimates claim the war has caused a million or more Iraqi deaths, and even if that’s an overstatement, the toll is still very high. But it’s not just the lives that are gone; we’ve also lost the contributions that these people would have made to their families and to humanity at large.

3. Another major hidden cost: Many of the wounded have severe brain injuries or other traumas and will never return to “normal” life. Furthermore, Washington will find it far much harder to recruit and retain quality troops and National Guardsmen in the future.

4. Don’t forget the small statistics, which are often the most striking. According to John Pike, the head of the research group GlobalSecurity.org, an estimated 250,000 bullets have been fired for every insurgent killed in Iraq. That’s not just a waste of ammunition; it’s also a reflection of how badly the country has been damaged and how indiscriminate some of the fighting has been. Or take another straw in the wind: The cost of a coffin in Baghdad has risen to $50-75, up from just $5-10 before the war, according to the Nation magazine.

5. Above all, governing Iraq has, so far, been a fruitless investment. According to 2006 figures, U.S. war spending came out to $3,749 per Iraqi — almost as much as the per-capita income of Egypt. That staggering sum hasn’t bought a lot of leadership from Iraq, or much of a democratic model for its Arab neighbors.

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  1. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
    29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
    30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
    31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
    32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

  2. […] only reason I care about this number is the same reason I care about the number of bullets apparently fired in Iraq since the war in Iraq began. Don’t forget the small statistics, which […]


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