New CBO Report: War Still Really Expensive

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The Congressional Budget Office released a report yesterday estimating that by 2017, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may have cost us up to $2.4 trillion. More than a quarter of that money will go to paying interest on the money we’ve borrowed to finance the conflict.

The White House, predictably, dismissed the numbers as “speculative.” But if you look at what we have already spent, the numbers seem right on target—maybe even low. According to the CBO’S report, the country has spent $604 billion since 2001. The total amount of money requested for 2008 alone is up to $196 billion, nearly a quarter of what’s been spent over the past five years. At that rate, we’ll sail past $2 trillion by 2014. And that’s not counting interest.

The report contains some other interesting reminders as well. Of the $604 billion spent since 2001, only $1.6 billion has been allocated to medical care, disability compensation, and survivor benefits. Only $30 billion has gone to training Iraqi and Afghan security forces. The Army estimates that it will need $12-$13 billion a year from now until at least two years after we leave just to repair its equipment. That’s a lot of money, and it seems like even more when you place it in the context of other major wars.

The result of all this vanishing cash, of course, is a severely depleted Army that continues to fight amidst ever-worsening conditions. See our current issue for thoughts on how to break this cycle.

—Casey Miner

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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