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Articles

On Iraq War’s Anniversary, Keep In Mind Its Cost  

Published in Foreign Policy .

It’s become a cliché for conservatives to talk about the U.S. national debt when Democrats are in power. It has also become the norm to see these same conservatives voting for more spending once they are in control. Libertarians, on the other hand, understand that beyond the rhetoric, neither Democrats nor Republicans are truly concerned about protecting the taxpayer from the taxman and the phrase, “new boss, same as old boss,” comes to mind no matter what party is in control.

cost

Moreover, a 2013 report by Reuters continues to help us prove what all anti-war libertarians knew all along: war is the biggest of government expenses, not just because lives are lost, but because the debt only grows and never gets fully paid.

Libertarians also understand that having a budget to begin with is a huge problem. Why in the world do we let the government spend our hard-earned money on anything, after all?

According to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and subsequent war cost U.S. taxpayers $1.7 trillion. In addition, the study added that American taxpayers owe $490 billion in benefits to veterans.  Over time, those costs could go beyond the $6 trillion mark thanks to interest.

As we approach the 15th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the reality of war continues to lurk. As the U.S. remains deeply involved in Afghanistan, the Middle East is still dealing with the potential consequences of the U.S. involvement over 10 years earlier in Iraq. But because war is happening so far away, Americans seldom think about it, or even care about how paying for war will affect their financial future in any significant way. And as time goes by and the lessons learned from the Iraq campaign appear to never stick, Washington politicians from both sides of the aisle continue to push for more intervention.

The debt is real. And while we might not immediately notice because we aren’t being forced to pay for it here and now, the bombastic load produced by the combination of inflation, interest, and ongoing warfare will continue to be kicked down the road. Still, we seldom hear elected officials talking about the deficit and the war in the same breath.


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