• Robert Spicer

Iraq War: economic implications: the Three Trillion Dollar War

The economic implications of the Iraq War

In 2008 Joseph Stiglitz, former Chief Economist at the World Bank, and Linda Bilmes, a leading American economist, published The Three Trillion Dollar War: the true cost of the Iraq conflict. Their book examines the true financial, economic and social consequences of the Iraq war. They conclude, in summary, that the US government’s early estimate of $50 billion for the cost of the war was underestimated by sixty times. They make the following points:

  • The invasion of Iraq was a terrible mistake.

  • The decision to go to war was based on a number of false premises.

  • The total cost to the US will be $3 trillion.

  • The total cost to Britain will be £20 billion.

  • Estimates of violent deaths of Iraqi citizens are disputed. They range from 100,000 to more than 150,000, with 700,000 deaths from other causes.

  • Civilian casualties in Iraq since the invasion have been estimated at between 68,796 (Iraq Body Count) and 650,000 (Lancet October 2006). More bombs were dropped in the initial ‘shock and awe’ attack on Iraq than in the whole of the first Gulf War.

  • The main alleged “benefit” of the War – the destruction of weapons of mass destruction – had no validity.

  • The Iraq War has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe.

  • 2.8 million Iraqis have fled their country.

  • Stiglitz and Bilmes do not deal with the legality of the War. Their economic analysis confirms the apocalyptic nature of the war in human and economic terms. In the light of a humanitarian and economic disaster of this magnitude, the legal implications have less significance for those who have suffered as a direct result of the invasion of their country. The projected cost of the War can, of course, be compared with the cost of providing a nationwide network of fully staffed and resourced law centres in the United Kingdom.

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