The Blog

So Many Zeroes

In Connecting the Dots on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 12:10

Three trillion dollars. That’s also how much the Iraq War will end up costing, according to The Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, a new book by Joseph Sitglitz and Linda Blimes. The authors estimate that future operating expenses, interest on the money borrowed to pay for the war, proper care for veterans, and the war’s impact on the overall economy will actually cost $2.8 trillion to $4.5 trillion. Compare that to the Bush administration’s pre-war projection that it would cost $50 to $60 billion – whoops. (Even then-Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s off-the-reservation estimate that the war would cost $200 billion seems tiny.) And that doesn’t even count the $9 billion to $12 billion that has gone missing from the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The authors have gone on an impressive publicity tour: Stiglitz and Blimes have talked to Fresh Air about the book, had an excerpt published in Vanity Fair, and penned an op-ed for the influential Washington Post Outlook section. But they didn’t have to do the all the work themselves: Arianna Huffington and Bob Herbert also used the book and its conclusions for recent columns. And that’s the kind of publicity you just can’t buy…

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