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Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict

Overview

"This is a catalog [of costs] the Bush team never looked at. It's a catalog that they still don't want you to see."—James Galbraith
America has already spent close to a trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there are hundreds of billions of bills still due—including staggering costs to take care of the thousands of injured veterans, providing them with disability benefits and health care. In this sobering study, Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard University's Linda J. Bilmes ...

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Overview

"This is a catalog [of costs] the Bush team never looked at. It's a catalog that they still don't want you to see."—James Galbraith
America has already spent close to a trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there are hundreds of billions of bills still due—including staggering costs to take care of the thousands of injured veterans, providing them with disability benefits and health care. In this sobering study, Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard University's Linda J. Bilmes reveal a wide range of costs that have been hidden from U.S. taxpayers and left out of the debate about our involvement in Iraq. That involvement, the authors conservatively estimate, will cost us more than $3 trillion. "Stiglitz and Bilmes have clearly demonstrated the need for Congress and the administration to ensure that those making sacrifices today will see those sacrifices honored in the future."—Dave W. Gorman, executive director, Disabled American Veterans

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Editorial Reviews

Carlos Lozada
Stiglitz and Bilmes methodically build a compelling case that the costs of the war far exceed the $500 billion or so officially spent on it thus far. Yet by making many assumptions about the future course of the conflict—from its duration (through at least 2017, they predict) to its impact on global oil prices ($5 to $10 extra per barrel, for seven to eight years)—the authors will leave many readers unconvinced. Will the war prove extraordinarily expensive? Absolutely. But will the price tag be $2 trillion? $3 trillion? $5 trillion? It's impossible to know…Stiglitz and Bilmes should be commended—not disparaged—for their painstaking work. But war critics should weigh the numbers carefully…The book's title suggests a level of precision that is not borne out in its pages. The book's stronger lesson is the sheer range of costs—and foregone opportunities—that the authors ably identify.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393334173
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/26/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 593,311
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda J. Bilmes, of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, is an expert in government finance. She is a former assistant secretary and chief financial officer of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Joseph E. Stiglitz received his PhD from MIT in 1967, became a full professor at Yale in 1970, and was awarded the John Bates Clark Award in 1979, which is given biennially by the American Economic Association to an economist under 40 who has made the most significant contribution to the field. He has taught at Princeton, Stanford, and MIT, and was the Drummond Professor and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is now a professor at Columbia University and co-chair of Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought. He is also the co-founder and co-president of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for his analyses of markets with asymmetric information, and was a lead author of the 1995 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2011, Time named Professor Stiglitz one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Professor Stiglitz was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1993–95, during the Clinton administration, and served as its chairman from 1995–97. He then became chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank from 1997–2000. In 2008, he was asked by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy to chair the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, which released its final report in September 2009. In 2009, he was appointed by the President of the United Nations General Assembly as chair of the Commission of Experts on Reform of the International Financial and Monetary System, which also released its report in September 2009. Professor Stiglitz helped create a new branch of economics—The Economics of Information—exploring the consequences of information asymmetries and pioneering such pivotal concepts as adverse selection and moral hazard, which have now become standard tools not only for theorists but also for policy analysts. He has made major contributions to the theories of welfare economics and of income and wealth distribution, and his work has helped explain the circumstances in which markets do not work well and how selective government intervention can improve market performance. Recognized around the world as a leading economic educator, Professor Stiglitz has written books that have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He also founded one of the leading economics journals, The Journal of Economic Perspectives. His book, Globalization and Its Discontents (Norton, 2001), has been translated into 35 languages and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. Other recent books include The Roaring Nineties (Norton); Towards a New Paradigm in Monetary Economics (Cambridge University Press), with Bruce Greenwald; Fair Trade for All (Oxford University Press), with Andrew Charlton; Making Globalization Work (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2006); The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2008), with Linda Bilmes at Harvard University; Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2010); and The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2012).

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Acknowledgments     xxi
Is It Really Three Trillion?     3
The Costs to the Nation's Budget     32
The True Cost of Caring for Our Veterans     61
Costs of War That the Government Doesn't Pay     91
The Macroeconomic Effects of the Conflicts     114
Global Consequences     132
Exiting Iraq     164
Learning from Our Mistakes: Reforms for the Future     185
President's Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives on the Emergency Appropriations Act     207
Evolving DOD Web Sites for Operation Iraqi Freedom     210
On Methodologies     216
List of Commonly Used Acronyms     232
Notes     235
Index     297
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