Evaluating the costs one year after Cheney’s prediction of “the last throes …of the insurgency”
Now seems as appropriate time as ever to update and take stock of the costs incurred in the U.S. action in Iraq. It has been three years since President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in the Iraqi theater (May 2, 2003), and exactly one year since Vice President Cheney announced “the last throes… of the insurgency” (June 20, 2005).
Figure 1 depicts the human cost of the war. The blue line is the cumulative fatalities (in-theater) up to June 18, with three unconfirmed fatalities; the red line is cumulative wounded in action.
Figure 1: Cumulative fatalities and wounded in Iraq, up to June 18. Source: Iraq Coalition Casualities
There have been more than 758 fatalities and 4989 wounded since Cheney’s statement (the figures are from the end of June 2005). Figure 2 shows cumulative budget authority for DoD (green line), as well as the sum of DoD, Foreign and Diplomatic activities, and Veterans Affairs (blue line), as estimated by the Congressional Research Service, “The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global
War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” April 2006, for fiscal years 2002-2006.
Figure 2: Cumulative budget authority, and CBO Baseine, in billions of current dollars, fiscal years. Sources: Congressional Research Service, “The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global
War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” April 2006 and CBO, An Alternative Budget Path Assuming a Reduction in Spending for Military Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and in support of the Global War on Terrorism,” February 24, 2006, and author’s calculations.
Approximating monthly expenditures by linear interpolation, the U.S. has spent another $98 billion (using budget authority as a proxy) since Cheney’s pronouncement.
The graph also presents the cumulative budget outlay (red line) using the CBO’s January 2006 baseline. The figure also presents the upper limit estimates expressed by then OMB Director Mitch Daniell before the beginning of hostilities, as well as Larry Lindsey’s upper limit estimate.
Note: (1)The projections do not include Foreign Assistance and Diplomatic Affairs and Veterans Administration outlays; (2) the figures are in in current dollars; and (3) resulting additional interest and debt service costs are not included.