Astronomic costs of the Iraq war

2011-12-18 09:27

Washington - From the tens of thousands killed and wounded to the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in eight years of conflict, the cost of the Iraq war is astronomic and still growing.

Human cost

Since the US invasion in March 2003, at least 126 000 Iraqi civilians were killed in the war, according to Boston University professor Neta Crawford. In addition, another 20 000 Iraqi soldiers and police were killed, along with more than 19 000 insurgents. British group puts the number of documented Iraqi civilian deaths from violence at 104 035 to 113 680.

For the US-led coalition, the Pentagon says the United States lost 4 474 troops, of which 3 518 died in combat. This figure is by far the highest of an invading coalition country. Britain was next, with 179 troops killed, according to the Defence Ministry. Nearly 32 000 American troops were also wounded.

In November, 187 Iraqis were killed by violence, including 112 civilians, 42 policemen and 33 soldiers. This figure compares to 2 087 people killed in January 2007. By comparison, 2 045 people were killed in the first nine months of 2011. These are all according to figures released monthly by the Iraqi ministries of health, interior and defence.

And the United Nations estimates that 1.75 million Iraqis were made refugees by the war, forced to flee to neighbouring countries or to displace their families to other parts of the country.

Troops deployed

At the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, about 150 000 US troops were stationed in Iraq, supported by 120 000 forces operating outside of the country. Roughly 40 000 British troops were deployed as well during the course of the war.

The US troop presence reached 165 000 at the end of 2006 before President George W Bush decided on a "surge" of 30 000 reinforcements in a bid to counter spiralling violence.

In September 2010, the US combat mission officially ended and 50 000 American troops remained on the ground to advise and train Iraqi forces as part of the newly dubbed "Operation New Dawn". The last of those US troops have now left Iraq.

Financial cost

The Pentagon has spent nearly $770bn since 2003 on operations in Iraq. Categorized as overseas contingency operations, the sum is treated separately from the main defence budget, which has also included some funds for the Iraq war.

The World Bank estimates that Iraq's GDP fell by 41% in 2003.

The Iraq war and reconstruction is also projected to have cost US taxpayers $256m per day from 2003 to 2012, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Any accounting of the war's price tag also has to include billions in US civilian aid to Iraq, as well as the cost of care provided to wounded soldiers and veterans.

US government statistics do not distinguish between veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, as a large number of the 1.25 million veterans were deployed to both wars.

By the end of 2010, the United States had already spent nearly $32bn on medical treatment for wounded troops and payments for disability pensions, a benefit veterans receive for life.

The future cost of medical care and pensions for veterans will grow exponentially in coming decades. Linda Bilmes, professor at Harvard University, estimates that pensions through 2055 for veterans will reach $346bn to $469bn, mainly due to health care costs.

Other losses

Around 60% of the Iraqi National Archives, equivalent to tens of millions of documents, went missing, were damaged or were destroyed as a result of water leaks and a fire at a storage centre in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, according to INA director Saad Iskander.

  • acsteyn - 2011-12-18 16:01

    And who ultimately will benefit from this small investment and the human collateral?

      Boer - 2012-01-31 00:52

      No one will benefit in war period. Everyone looses.

      Merven - 2012-01-31 08:18

      With more than 50 of the world's most wanted terrorists killed and caught, I'll say the entire world benefited.

  • acsteyn - 2011-12-18 16:03

    The USA perhaps? Then there is the oil. Oh, lest I forget then the revenue from rebuiding Iraq. War is financially great for an economy, is it not? Then you even become a hero when you pull ou all the troops.

  • Brian - 2011-12-18 21:20

    Lets not forget , that the Zionist/American invaded Iraq based on lies about WMO, that they knew along never existed. The Zionist American controlled media along with their European Zionist media acted as cheer leaders and helped soften the American and European public into supporting their war of agression , plunder, theft , rape , torture , genocide etc of the Iraqui mem women and children. Within the first week of indicrimate bombing (shock and awe) the Zionist/American Impearlist slaughtred over ten thousand civillians. All but defeated they now skulk out of Iraq like the vermin and human waste that they are, and wait on their Zionist masters in the Pentagon orders to attack another Muslim country , either Syria or Iran. Again the Zionist media are on a propaganda rampage ,aganist both countrys , to soften the public up once again to plunder , destroy , rape and bring the world to the point of WW3. It is now time for Americans Christians to stand up to the Zionist who have hijacked Christian America and send it young white , black , hispanic , poor brainwashed youth to fight Zionist wars, so that Zionist Bankers, Arms Dealers , etc can make huge profits from the suffering and bloodshed by Christians and Muslims .

      Squeegee - 2011-12-18 21:55

      Yes, and lets not forget they killed Elvis and Kennedy and they were also responsible for the fake moon landing. These same evil Zionists falsly accused Shabir Shaik and shot down the Helderberg. Their next major plan is to invade Swaziland and to install Butch James as the new king.

      Mike - 2011-12-18 23:00

      It's the Zionist? Serious Brian? And where did you get this information, sorry, facts from?

      Zion - 2011-12-19 07:44

      Hey, hey, hey ek se leave me out of it.

      Merven - 2012-01-31 08:23

  • Errol - 2011-12-19 07:15

    Since 2003 more than 180 000 South Africans have been murdered and around 150 000 have died in senseless road accidents.Since independence in 1994 more 2500 farmers..alone..have been murdered.Make me think about the stats of the war in Iraq!!!!!!!!!!!

  • malcolm - 2011-12-19 07:18

    Please remind me again why you went to war? Have you found the elusive weapons of mass destruction yet? Bush is a war criminal and needs to be made accountable at the Hague. Its Obamas turn to be a war criminal next. The USA needs another war. They are in a massive reccession and debt crisis. Tens of thousands of soldiers running back to the USA is not going to improve the situation.Just watch and wait. It wont be long before they take another country.

      Merven - 2012-01-31 08:20

      So cry me a river, please let it be Zim.

  • Tebogo - 2011-12-19 07:59

    Those who had taken the liberty of declaring themselves the guardians of mankind have acted irresponsibly and continue to do so. The hypocracy is astonishing, pompous, self important and know it all and yet, they know little and are very unwise.

      Merven - 2012-01-31 08:22

      Coming from someone who probably vote ANC, talk about unwise. If it wasn't for the USA Hitler would've been in charge now, and guess what, you don't have blond hair and blue eyes, so where would've you been now?

  • JohannVKruger - 2012-01-31 11:13

    During the rebuild of Iraq, SA was considered to be more dangerous because of the numbers mentioned. Hind sight is always 20/20 vision. One should observe these kinds of events in context. Iraq was warned for ten years to declare its nuclear capability to the UN (no teeth). During his time in American imprisonment, Saddam told the US guards that he announced Iraq’s nuclear capability as a scare tactic in prevention of retribution attacks from Iran. These kinds of messages create huge concerns. Hind sight again, if it was true (that is what he claimed!) and Saddam supplied those capabilities to some other crazy dictator to be deployed against democracy, I would like to read all the comments. Saddam attacked Kuwait for no reason and left a real mess when he instructed the firing up of the oil wells, huge ecological disaster, but I guess we conveniently forgot about that. Instability in any of the crude oil producing countries influences world trade. Atrocities against the human race and his countrymen went by unnoticed. He demolished villages with chemical agents and used bull dozers to turn the villages into enormous hills to cover up his mess. One can drive onto those hills with a truck! If those agents are not WMD, I maybe do not get the definition of WMD. The world was looking for nuclear capability; Iraq had chemical agents and delivering systems.

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