Can the cost of war with Iraq (and its aftermath) be estimated?

PRO (yes)

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in a Sep. 30, 2002 report "Estimated Costs of a Potential Conflict with Iraq," stated:

"CBO estimates that the incremental costs of deploying a force to the Persian Gulf would be between $9 billion and $13 billion and that prosecuting a war would cost between $6 billion and $9 billion a month -- although we cannot estimate how long such a war may last.

After hostilities end, the costs to return U.S. forces to their home bases would range between $5 billion and $7 billion, CBO estimates...

Further, the incremental cost of an occupation following combat operations would vary from about $1 billion to $4 billion a month."

Sep. 30, 2002 - Estimated Costs of a Potential Conflict with Iraq (72 KB)  
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 

The Democratic Caucus of the House Budget Committee stated the following in its Sep. 23, 2002 report "Assessing the Cost of Military Action Against Iraq: Using Desert Shield/Desert Storm as a Basis for Estimates":

"The Full and Total Cost of a New War with Iraq is Likely $100 Billion to $200 Billion:

The analysis concludes that a U.S. force of 250,000 personnel that achieves the goal of ousting Saddam Hussein’s regime in 60 days of combat that goes as smoothly as the Persian Gulf War will cost $93 billion, including interest costs.

When all of the other costs that would also be incurred...are considered, the total would easily exceed $100 billion. And if the war has an adverse impact on the U.S. or global economy, or proves more difficult and lengthier than assumed, $200 billion may unfortunately prove to be a reasonable estimate."

Sep. 23, 2002 - Assessing the Cost of Military Action Against Iraq: Using Desert Shield/Desert Storm as a Basis for Estimates (438 KB)  
Democratic Caucus of the House Budget Committee 

George Soros, Founder of the Open Society Institute, stated in a Feb. 27, 2004 article "The U.S. Is Now in the Hands of a Group of Extremists," published in the Guardian/UK:

"And the cost of the occupation is estimated at a staggering $160bn [billion] for the fiscal years 2003-2004 - $73bn for 2003 and $87bn in a supplemental request for 2004 submitted at the last minute in September 2003. Of the $87bn, only $20bn is for reconstruction, but the total cost of reconstruction is estimated at $60bn. For comparison, our foreign aid budget for 2002 was $10bn."

Feb. 27, 2004 - George Soros 

Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., JD, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in a Dec. 31, 2002 New York Times article "White House Cuts Estimate of Cost of War with Iraq," was quoted saying the following during a telephone interview:

"...[the] cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion...

Mr. Daniels would not provide specific costs for either a long or a short military campaign against Saddam Hussein. But he said that the administration was budgeting for both, and that earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Mr. Bush's former chief economic adviser, were too high.

Mr. Daniels declined to explain how budget officials had reached the $50 billion to $60 billion range for war costs..."

Dec. 31, 2002 - Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr, JD 

CON (no)

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), stated in its Sep. 30, 2002 report "Estimated Costs of a Potential Conflict with Iraq":

"Estimates of the total cost of a military conflict with Iraq and the conflict's aftermath are highly uncertain and depend on many unknown factors including the actual force size deployed, the duration of the conflict, the strategy employed, the number of casualties, the equipment lost, and the need for reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure."

Sep. 30, 2002 - Estimated Costs of a Potential Conflict with Iraq (72 KB)  
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 

Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense, in a conversation with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) during a Feb. 4, 2004 testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee:

"REED: Mr. Chairman, I believe the secretary basically said that he has not included all the costs that he anticipates this year for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in this budget, and therefore we are not getting a full picture in the budget of the anticipated, the known, the most likely military operations of this government for the next year. I think that's important.

RUMSFELD: I think I phrased it quite close to that, but not exactly; that it is not possible to predict costs a year in advance in a war...

Wars are uncertain things. It is possible to say -- you're correct, Senator -- that the funds for the ongoing conflict in the global war on terror and Afghanistan and Iraq are not in the budget. That was specified in the budget when it was presented. And that is the pattern that has developed during the three years I've been back in this post, as I understand it, as a result of an interaction between the executive and the legislative branches at a level far above me."

Feb. 4, 2004 - Donald Rumsfeld 

Paul Wolfowitz, PhD, former US Deputy Secretary of Defense, stated in his prepared testimony presented to the House Committee on the Budget on Feb. 27, 2003:

"The President’s proposed budget does not estimate the incremental costs of a possible war with Iraq, nor does it request contingency funding to cover them. Such estimates are so dependent on future, unpredictable circumstances as to be of little value."

Feb. 27, 2003 - Wolfowitz Testimony to the House Budget Committee (229 KB)  
Paul Wolfowitz, PhD 

Kent Conrad, MBA, US Senator (D-ND), stated in his Dec. 31, 2002 "Statement by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) on Bush Administration's Latest Cost Estimate of Potential War with Iraq":

"The reality is no one knows how much it will cost us to wage war with Iraq. Mitch Daniels’ $50 billion to $60 billion estimate is as viable as Larry Lindsey’s $100 billion to $200 billion estimate in September. So much depends on the duration and type of combat operations as well as the presence, duration and size of a peacekeeping force."

Dec. 31, 2002 - Kent Conrad, MBA