Last updated on: 7/31/2009 1:27:00 PM PST
How much did past wars cost and how do those figures relate to the Iraq conflict as of Sep. 2004?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Phyllis Bennis and the Institute for Policy Studies Iraq Task Force stated the following on Sep. 30, 2004 in their study titled "A Failed 'Transition': The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War":

"To put Iraq war spending figures in perspective, the monthly cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars now rivals the average monthly cost of the Vietnam War. Operations costs in Iraq are estimated at $5 billion per month while the average cost of U.S. operations in Vietnam over the eight-year war was $5.2 billion per month, adjusting for inflation. While fewer troops are in Iraq, the weapons they use are more expensive and they are paid more than their counterparts who served in Vietnam."

Sep. 30, 2004 - A Failed 'Transition': The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War (339 KB)  
Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) 
Phyllis Bennis 

L. Paul Bremer, MBA, administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, on Sep. 13, 2003, stated the following in his remarks to the Iraqi people:

"Measured by the amount spent per inhabitant, next year America will spend 66 times the amount it spent in Germany in 1948."

Sep. 13, 2003 - L. Paul Bremer, III, MBA 

Faisal Islam, Economics Correspondent for The Observer (UK) stated the following in his Mar. 9, 2003 article "Markets Threatened by 'New World Disorder'," that noted a study by John Llewellyn, chief economist for Lehman Brothers:

"Regardless of who backs any action [in Iraq] there is a one in 10 chance of an 'open-ended conflagration' which would lead to a Vietnam war-sized bill for the U.S., 'equivalent to 12 per cent of contemporary GDP', or $1.2 trillion."

Mar. 9, 2003 - Faisal Islam 

James K. Galbraith, PhD, Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin, stated in an Apr. 26, 2004 Los Angeles Times article titled "War in Iraq Aims a Bullet at the Heart of the Economy":

"The U.S. had one good economic experience with war. World War II conquered the Depression, re-industrialized the country and built the middle class. But that was special. The U.S. fought World War II with full mobilization, super-high taxes, super-low interest rates, big deficits, price controls and rationing. Iraq isn't going to be like World War II.

Economically, the Iraq war is more like Vietnam: insidiously underestimated, sold to the public and Congress on false premises, improperly budgeted and inadequately taxed. During the Vietnam years, there was also economic growth at first. But then came creeping inflation, followed by worldwide commodity shocks, the oil crisis of 1973, international monetary disorder and a decade of economic trouble."

Apr. 26, 2004 - James K. Galbraith, PhD 

James Sterngold, National Correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, stated in a May 9, 2004 article "War Tab Swamps Bush's Estimate," published in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Operation Desert Storm, begun in 1991 after Saddam Hussein's armies invaded Kuwait, cost about $84 billion, adjusted for inflation, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonpartisan Washington think tank. But because the United States was part of a broad coalition of wealthy countries, including Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Saudi Arabia, about 90 percent of those costs were paid for by America's Allies.

The Korean War, which involved several years of all-out military campaigns, cost about $418 billion in inflation-adjusted Pentagon's $401 billion budget excludes Iraq dollars, and the Vietnam War cost about $597 billion, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments."

May 9, 2004 - James Sterngold