Letter to the Editor

War's cost estimates were way off

Saturday, January 14, 2006

To the editor:

Before the invasion of Iraq, then-White House budget director Mitch Daniels had this to say about the cost: "an affordable endeavor." He quickly dismissed the $100 billion to $200 billion estimate of then-Bush administration economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey as "very, very high." As it turns out they where both a little off.

A new study by Columbia University economics professor and 2001 Nobel laureate Joseph Stigilz has estimated the total cost of the war at around $2 trillion, adding that the estimate was conservative. The study included the cost of disability payments for the 16,000 wounded U.S. soldiers (20 percent of whom have suffered serious brain or spinal injuries) and the mental-health care of other returning soldiers (30 percent have developed mental-health problems within three to four months of returning).

A portion of the total cost was attributed to the rise in oil prices since the start of the war (20 percent of the $25-a-barrel gain was directly caused by the war, the report states).

The projection estimated a total troop withdraw in 2010 with troops being steadily decreased until then. The report estimated the number of troops in 2006 at 136,000. Currently there are 153,000 troops in Iraq. The war is currently costing $4.5 billion a month in operating costs alone (according to the Pentagon) and has cost $173 billion to date.

CHRIS SIEBERT, Cape Girardeau