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Report: Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan wars could top $4 trillion

Posted by The Agonist on September 30th, 2010

From our partners at The Agonist

Leo Shane III | Washington | September 30

Stars & Stripes – When the book “The $3 Trillion War” was released two years ago, its authors were widely accused of exaggerating the long-term costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, the researchers believe those estimates were too low.

Joseph Stiglitz, who received the 2000 Nobel Prize for Economics, and Linda Bilmes, a public policy professor at Harvard University, said the number of veterans seeking post-combat medical care and the cost of treating those individuals is about 30 percent higher than they estimated in 2008.

That, combined with increases in the cost of military medical care and the lagging economy, will likely push the true long-term cost of military operations and future medical care of veterans over the $4 trillion mark. It could reach $6 trillion under a worst-case financial scenario.

“It is obvious now that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been far more costly, in terms of both blood and treasure, than its advocates suggested at the outset,” Stiglitz said before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday.

“Even with more realistic estimates, we might have come to the same decision about going to war. But the absence of reliable estimates meant there was no opportunity for a meaningful debate. It has also prevented us from planning ahead for future costs.”

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