Bush's $1 Trillion War on Terror: Even Costlier Than Expected
The cost of sending a single soldier to fight for a year in Afghanistanor Iraq is about $775,000 - three times more than in other recent wars, says a new report from the private but authoritative Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. A large chunk of the increase is a result of the Administration cramming new military hardware into the emergency budget bills it has been using to pay for the wars. (See pictures of U.S. troops in Iraq)
These costs, of course, pale alongside the price paid by the nearly 5,000 U.S. troops who have lost their lives in the conflicts - not to mention the wounded - and the families of all the casualties. And President Bush insists that their sacrifice, and the expenditure on the wars, has helped prevent a recurrence of 9/11. "We could not afford to wait for the terrorists to attack again," he said last week at the Army War College. "So we launched a global campaign to take the fight to the terrorists abroad, to dismantle their networks, to dry up their financing and find their leaders and bring them to justice."
But many Americans may suffer a moment of sticker shock from the conclusions of the CSBA report, and similar assessments from the Government Accounting Office and Congressional Research Service, which make clear that the nearly $1 trillion already spent is only a down payment on the war's long-term costs. The trillion-dollare figure does not, for example, include long-term health care for veterans, thousands of whom have suffered crippling wounds, or the interest payments on the money borrowed by the Federal government to fund the war. The bottom lines of the three assessments vary: The CSBA study says $904 billion has been spent so far, while the GAO says the Pentagon alone has spent $808 billion through last September. The CRS study says the wars have cost $864 billion, but it didn't factor inflation into its calculations.