What is the cost of war? On a philosophical plane, the casualties in human life is staggering, no matter the war. In monetary terms, the results are just as staggering. Currently, for example, the War in Afghanistan costs American taxpayers over $10 – per HOUR! The newest war in the Middle East – the non-war against ISIS – costs the taxpayers nearly $400 thousand per hour just check our cost calculators. This is supposed to be a “clean” war, meaning that Americans and their allies will not be harmed, since there are no “boots on the ground”. As with any political double speak, this is a misrepresentation of the costs of the war in Iraq.
Costs in Lives
The ground war in Iraq started in 2003, following war actions in Afghanistan precipitated by the Twin Towers bombings of 2001. Under still debated motives, the U.S. entered Iraq, and between 2003 and 2012, 4,486 U.S. soldiers have been killed in that country. 800 troops from the UK have died in the war, and another 400 from coalition troops have died. The estimates of civilian deaths, by some accounts, top a half million.
Besides deaths to our soldiers on the ground, it is estimated that there are a dozen suicides a day among Iraqi war veterans.
Since the war in Iraq started, it is estimated that the U.S. has spent over $800 billion dollars on just the Iraqi part of the war. Afghanistan accounts for another $750 billion dollars. So, Iraq accounts for over ½ of the cost of the two wars combined.
Most military advisors said that withdrawing coalition troops from Iraq would destabilize the area, allowing terrorist groups to seize control. That, apparently, has happened, and now, the coalition troops are seeking to re-engage in that area. A “new” terror group called ISIS, or ISIL, if you want to avoid the Syria connection, has arisen, and we now have a new war targeting this group, somehow in exclusion to the wars on other terrorist groups.
The cost of war against ISIS is suspected to be around $300 thousand per hour. However, most reports are that the military is not revealing how much it is spending for this “air action”, and this is an estimate.
The war in Afghanistan had almost full support of the citizens of the U.S. The war in Iraq – not so much, since they had not directly attacked the U.S. Many people, liberals and conservatives alike, believed the Iraq war was based on Saddam Hussein’s threat to a past president of the country, rather than a direct attack. The war has spent a great deal of political capital affecting two American presidents and dividing the country almost as badly as the Vietnam war did, and with dubious benefits, with politicians strategizing both wars.
Numbers that extend beyond our own personal bank balance usually lose their significance. So, to put it in perspective, we’ve “spent” enough human lives and money to fill many, many Empire State Buildings.