From Secrecy News of the Federation of American Scientists
Among the mistakes and misrepresentations that led to the U.S. war in Iraq, one of the most shocking is the failure to correctly assess the financial costs of the war. Never mind the low comedy of AID Administrator Andrew Natsios, who told Americans in 2003 that Iraqi reconstruction would cost taxpayers no more than $1.7 billion (Secrecy News, 12/08/05).
Now it appears that even estimates in the hundreds of billions ofdollars may "underestimate the War's true costs to America by a widemargin," according to a new study by economists Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate. The authors survey the direct and indirect costs of the Iraq war and its aftermath, acknowledging the methodological difficulties involved.
"Even taking a conservative approach, we have been surprised at how large [the costs] are. We can state, with some degree of confidence,that they exceed a trillion dollars," Bilmes and Stiglitz write.
"Would the American people have had a different attitude towards goingto war had they known the total cost? Would they have thought that there might be better ways of advancing the cause of democracy oreven protecting themselves against an attack, that would cost but afraction of these amounts?"
"In the end, we may have decided that a trillion dollars spent on theWar in Iraq was better than all of these alternatives. But at least it would have been a more informed decision than the one that was made. And recognizing the risks, we might have conducted the War in a manner different from the way we did," the authors conclude.
Their paper was reported in the Boston Globe on January 8.
See The Economic Costs of the Iraq War: An Appraisal Three Years After the Beginning of the Conflict" by Linda Bilmes and Joseph E.Stiglitz, January 2006