The Iraq War began with the initial invasion spear-headed by the United States in the year 2003. A long, bloody conflict the war dragged on for years, but was officially declared over in December 2011. The eight years spent in Iraq exacted a huge toll though, and it’s one that is only now beginning to truly see the light of day.
The Financial Costs of The Iraq War
The Iraq War was fraught with problems that led to a massive bill. The expenditures on changing equipment for the army, the huge sums paid out to civilian contractors (many of which over-charged the government egregiously for their services), and the general costs of soldiers, gear, and upkeep was also adding up on top of everything else. President Bush originally predicted the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion dollars when he pitched the idea to Congress, and that cost was ridiculed as being overblown by some in the government at the time.
The final bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been added up to over $6 trillion, $2 trillion of which was borrowed in large part from foreign lenders. This was responsible for 20 percent of the increase in the U.S.’s debt between 2001 and 2012, and since that time the U.S. has paid over $260 billion in interest on those loans. This is a far cry from the president’s statements at the time that oil revenues would pay for the war effort, and then some.
The Human Cost of the Iraq War
While it might seem callous to apply numbers to human lives, it’s one of the only ways to put it in perspective. Some sources have put the death toll as high as 330,000, and suggested that for every soldier killed as many as 16 have been wounded. This is a ratio unseen in previous conflicts. This of course means that veterans returning from Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, have a great deal of medical needs to be taken care of. Even those who aren’t physically wounded have been returning with post traumatic stress disorder in record numbers. All of these things take their toll both physically on those who fought, as well as on their families and communities in ways that will last for a generation or more.
Where Does It End?
With one in two surviving veterans from these conflicts applying for permanent disability benefits, the cost of this war is likely to be ongoing for some time. Though it may sound callous the costs will continue to mount as current veterans of this conflict age and more of their problems require treatment. The debts incurred by the United States government will take time to pay off, like any debts, but until that deficit is paid off in full the interest will continue to mount on the U.S.’s shoulders. The amount of time that will take could stretch on generations past this conflict, depending on the economy and how well the U.S. manages its budgets.
Check out the video below for a good true cost breakdown of the war in Iraq: