Sunday, January 08, 2006

Nobel Laureate Estimates Iraq War Cost at $2 Trillion

The Guardian has published an article entitled "Iraq war could cost US over $2 trillion, says Nobel prize-winning economist" See article.

Some excerpts:

The real cost to the US of the Iraq war is likely to be between $1 trillion and $2 trillion (£1.1 trillion), up to 10 times more than previously thought, according to a report written by a Nobel prize-winning economist and a Harvard budget expert.

The study, which expanded on traditional estimates by including such costs as lifetime disability and healthcare for troops injured in the conflict as well as the impact on the American economy, concluded that the US government is continuing to underestimate the cost of the war.

The paper on the real cost of the war, written by Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2001, and Linda Bilmes, a Harvard budget expert, is likely to add to the pressure on the White House on the war. It also followed the revelation this week that the White House had scaled back ambitions to rebuild Iraq and did not intend to seek funds for reconstruction.

Mr Stiglitz told the Guardian that despite the staggering costs laid out in their paper the economists had erred on the side of caution. "Our estimates are very conservative, and it could be that the final costs will be much higher. And it should be noted they do not include the costs of the conflict to either Iraq or the UK."

Mr Stiglitz, a former World Bank chief economist, said the paper, which will be available on josephstiglitz.com, did not attempt to explain whether Americans were deliberately misled or whether the underestimate was due to incompetence.

But in terms of the total cost of the war "there may have been alternative ways of spending a fraction of that amount that would have enhanced America's security more, and done a better job in winning the hearts and minds of those in the Middle East and promoting democracy".

This study was previewed in the NYTimes on August 20, 2005. See reprint.

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