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
  • 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 is a Nobel Prize-winning economist and the best-selling author of The Price of Inequality, Freefall, and Globalization and Its Discontents. He is a columnist for the New York Times and Project Syndicate and has written for Vanity Fair, Politico, The Atlantic, and Harper's. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.

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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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