January 16, 2007


War on Terror More Expensive Than Vietnam (Yassin Musharbash, 1/16/07, Der Spiegel)

According to the US government's Congressional Research Service, the Vietnam War cost the US the equivalent of $662 billion (€512 billion), in today's dollars, between 1965 and 1975. The Los Angeles Times has compared this figure with the costs for the War on Terror, which began in 2001, and come up with the conclusion that this year the costs will be surpassed.

Steven Kosiak, director of budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, has calculated that between Sept. 11, 2001 and the end of the 2006 fiscal year the US spent around $400 billion under the heading of "fighting terrorism." This covers the expenditure on the Afghanistan war and the operations in Iraq since March 2003, but also includes spending on Bush's other "wider global war against terrorism," Kosiak told the Los Angeles Times.

In the 2007 fiscal year there will be the additional $70 billion that has already been approved by Congress, not to mention the additional $100 billion that Bush is expected to ask Congress for. When all the numbers are added up, the US will have spent at least $670 billion by the end of the year -- more than on the whole of the Vietnam War.

The figures illustrate just how expensive the war in Iraq has been. During World War II -- the biggest armed conflict in the history of mankind -- the US only hit the $600 billion mark (in today's dollars) in mid-1943. By that stage, the Germans had already been pushed out of North Africa, a large part of the Japanese fleet had been destroyed and the big offensive on European territory, which would eventually lead to the end of the war in Europe, had begun.

The Iraq War is by these standards hardly comparable -- but it is already so expensive that its price tag is beginning to reach "historic proportions," writes the Los Angeles Times.

My math isn't so hot, but color us skeptical that WWII could cost only whatever 600 billion/14 trillion is as a percent of one years GDP. Indeed, the cost of liberating the Kurds and Shi'a was so low--and casualties so light--that it raises the question of how we can countenance any totalitarian regime.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 16, 2007 7:33 AM

How much could it possibly have cost to manufacture one P-38? Let alone the millionth one...

How much could it possibly have cost to train one 90-day wonder? Let alone the millionth one...

Any such cost analysis as presented in the quoted article that doesn't even appear to consider the size of the economy in 1940, 1960, & 2000 is too idiotic to bother with.

Posted by: b at January 16, 2007 12:12 PM

Yes. Technology has substituted mere money for blood: no more, "Tweet, Tweet, Over the top!"

Furthermore, to keep the costs as low as possible we must embrace the mystery of deterrence. We have to project the mentality that we ". . .laugh at losses, when [we] count the wager worth." Through readiness for total war, we say to the world and to the enemy that our motto is "Viva la Guerra; Viva el Muerte!"

A sham will not do it. A bluff will be called. Deterrence fails unless it is believable and believed. What makes it believable is physical capacity. That is, actual possession of the instruments of Jingoism.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 17, 2007 5:29 PM

Our posture is all the more believable because we need have no losses.

Posted by: oj at January 17, 2007 9:56 PM