November 13th, 2007
08:45 PM ET
14 years ago

The true cost of the war on terror

Watch Jessica Yellin's report on a new report by Congressional Democrats.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic leaders in Congress released a report Tuesday where they estimated the total costs of the country's military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The report estimates the total cost of the war on terror– including what Democrats call the war's "hidden costs" - at $1.6 trillion. 

This is twice what President Bush has requested from Congress to fund  operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but far less than the $50 billion the Bush administration initially estimated for the Iraq war in 2003.

Related video: Watch Ed Henry's report on the President's budget battle with Congress 

Related: Bush to Congress: Cut the pork

Related: Panel estimates war costs at $1.6 trillion by 2009

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Filed under: Congress • Iraq • President Bush
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. christian, selden, ny

    Paul Thompson

    price of living? are you serious? at 1 point this war is to stop saddam from having nukes. then it was to stop terrorism, now its to protect us? first of all saddam didnt have the capabilities to hit our troops in the country right next to him with scud missles. all of a sudden he has nukes that could reach america? number 2 the "terrorist" were almost all saudi arabian, but we are in iraq?? number three osama bin laden is most probably in in pakistan or afghanistan but i repeat WE ARE IN IRAQ. and as for these americans supporting the war treying to use the excuse we are bringing freedom to iraq try again. with all the racism today towards arab americans since 9/11 your telling me anyone cares about these peoples well being. when you can condone a war that is killing thousands of there civilians you cant preach about the peace we are giving them!!! the trillions for this war is wasted money. there are many provisions you can take to secure OUR country by not invading a secular governments nation and spending trillions in money we dont even have to keep it going. we are missing the objective and so many americans just cant see it.

    November 14, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Raymond, El Paso TX

    To all you people saying this is the price we pay for our freedom, you need to get off drugs or quit listening to the drug addict Rush.

    Afghanistan was about avenging 9/11 and the three stooges blew it (Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld). Iraq, I don't what that was about other than defense contractors making a crap-load of money.

    Now people like Tancredo say we need to secure our borders because we are not safe from attack. WELL DUH!!! Isn't that where we should have started in the first place? So now here we go again, lining government contractors' pockets with that project. This administration’s loyalty to special interests and the gullibility of some Republican voters is simply AMAZING!

    November 14, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. christian, selden, ny

    J Houston, TX

    do u think we would go to war over oil so the american people can get oil cheaper?? thats not how business' think and dont get it confused this is not an honorable war its a hostel takeover. the war gives oil company an excuse to raise gas prices and make record breaking profits like it did for exxon for the past 2 years and thats not increased sales that increased PROFITS it means the amount they spent for the oil and the amount they made in there pocket's spread increased! it makes they are charging more!!! and the cost of the war is high and companies like haliburton and lockheed make a ton of money CREATING THE WEAPONS....its business!!!see thats the point alot of people are starting to see and alot of people are still waiting for the gas prices to drop and iraqis running in the streets with american aint happening.....

    November 14, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. spinstopper

    As the son of a critically wounded Vietnam veteran, I have lived these hidden cost of war. And as a survivor, I can tell you that the greatest pain comes from watching fellow American's cheer for our military's defeat..

    November 14, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  5. r schier norwalk,ct

    "And as a survivor, I can tell you that the greatest pain comes from watching fellow American's cheer for our military's defeat"

    Who's "cheering" for their defeat. Why is this constantly implied, when all we are doing is DEMANDING that our resources be used brother's a vietnam war vet; stupid false pretense war then, stupid false pretense war now....why do you want to support this????

    November 14, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. Terry, El Paso, TX

    I don't ever want to hear the phrase "fiscal responsibility" from another Republican. I am reminded of the old joke:

    One guy says, "A purse snatcher took my wife's purse and all her credit cards."
    The other guy says, "Did you report it to the police?"
    The first guy replies, "No. So far the thief is spending less than my wife does."

    I am also reminded of Abraham Lincoln's famous comment, "If this is coffee, bring me some tea. If this is tea, bring me some coffee."

    So I say, "If this is Republican fiscal corruption, bring me some Republican fiscal irresponsibility. If this is fiscal irresponsibility, bring me some fiscal corruption."

    November 14, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Terry, El Paso, TX

    "...I can tell you that the greatest pain comes from watching fellow American's cheer for our military's defeat..." – spinstopper

    Hold on a minute! No American that I know of has ever wanted American defeat in Iraq. Why would you invent such a fiction when we all know that it is not true? No responsible Democrat, no rational Liberal has ever called for American defeat. You are letting your feelings run away with you.

    November 14, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. Steve in SC

    r schier norwalk,ct,

    You have every right to want to raise and wave a white flag and I have every right to say You can move if you like. Take your head out of the sand! You may not like it and you may not understand it but there are folks out there who want to kill you only because you are American! May not be popular, no war is but sometimes it is neccessary. Now who really is the sucker? You have the freedom to say what you wish, thanks to those who fought for it!

    November 14, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. r schier norwalk,ct

    "DEMOCRAT report… uh huh… not a bi-partisan panel or an independent study… but a DEMOCRAT report"

    Jimmy – who cares whose report it is...
    what does that have to do with the waste of money?? And what's wrong with certain "entitlements" for our citizens????? There's alot of hard working people that simply don't have ability to pay $x,xxx for health insurance, and there are far fewer employers offering it....I would imagine your covered and taken care of by someone...makes it easy to complain about "entitlements"...but you'll defend "mr halliburton's" war to no end...I guess you have a "sense of humor" after all...

    November 14, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. Raman, Plano TX

    The cost of war even at $1.6 trillion can be acceptable given that it is tiny fraction of US GDP over the years.

    However, $1.6 trillion expense on war has created more enemies during the four year period starting with War in Iraq than before at any point in time in history. And these enemies are spread out in entire world. With this, the risk of terrorism threat from abroad and within will keep mounting.

    Increasing defense expenditures and invasions abroad will not only increase expenditures, but will not be effective in focusing on terrorism related intelligence.

    With WWII an agency CIA was created to gather intelligence on adversary nations and that was pretty much effective as we have seen with opening of eastern European block.

    Similarly, with increasing threat from terrorism, a new intelligence agency specifically targeting intelligence on terrorist activities around the globe will have to be created, so that such operations are cost effective.

    November 14, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. RealityKing

    Saddam fooled everyone with his WMD ruse. And as a whole, we made the decision to outs him. Now, with everyone’s best interest in mind, we must follow through. A democratic Iraq is still the best opinion. Pretences were never needed..

    November 14, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. James, Phoenix AZ

    r schier, norwalk, ct

    You wrote, "Jimmy – who cares whose report it is…
    what does that have to do with the waste of money?? And what's wrong with certain "entitlements" for our citizens????? "

    Oh.. *I* see.. if it's a "Democratic" report then the world should just act as though Democrats have NO axe to grind with this administration... and wouldn't skew figures to their political agenda?

    I guess you also feel the impeaching of President Clinton was a fair decision too? (who cares what party brought up the articles of impeachment???)

    What's WRONG with a few "entitlements" for our citizens?? Obviously R-Schier, you either don't have a job, don't pay taxes, oblivious to the failing of Social Security, oblivious to the decades of welfare fraud, and whole-heartedly welcome the era of European Socialism to America.

    Which is it? I am guessing it's – D) All of the Above?

    November 14, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. r schier norwalk,ct

    Steve in SC:
    I think the real question should be WHY people "out there" (wherever that may be) want to kill Americans...Do you know anything of America's meddling in Mid-East affairs for the last 60 years? We have chosen sides (look how Iraq was SUPPORTED in the 1980's – genocide didn't seem to worry the US then), installed governments, removed governments, and basically did whatever was in the interest of Israel, money, or both. All Iraq has done, is prove a point to many who did not necessarily harbour negative feeling before. A number of radical SAUDIS were those that attacked the WTC, and the monkies just goes shooting off guns at whomever. How would it be if the tables were turned?? The goal shoud be to regain some world respect, and marginalize terrorism, by ensuring we are not validating their very reasons, in the eyes of people that now
    have suffered from crap policy.

    James in AZ:
    a)Have been employed continously since age 16
    b)have paid plenty of taxes – and anyone who has, should be outraged in
    how they have ben wasted
    c)welfare is not the issue here...I was referring to health care...I have good coverage, but know of many who are not so fortunate....
    d) I am NOT for European Socialism, however just becuase of this, does not mean that I believe that capitalism can remain a "good thing" if allowed to go unchecked...I believe the deteriorating state of the middle class, and flagrantly irresponsible waste of resources (ex: IRAQ), are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the damage that has been done by these monkeys the last 7 years. They are not true conservatives in the traditional sense...neocons=fools....

    November 14, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  14. christian, selden, ny

    James, Phoenix AZ

    european socialism? u mean france, italy, spain??

    November 14, 2007 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  15. John from America

    Where is the money coming from to pay for this war? A democratic alley in the Middle East, how will that happen?

    It seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors going on explaining the reasons for the war and the ability to pay for it. Trying to link the Iraq war to 911 was debunked a long time ago so, if we wanted to get the terrorists, we should have put all our resources in Afghanistan and prevented them from escaping.

    November 14, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  16. John from America

    CNN -why are my comments waiting for moderation? My comments are to the point and less abrasive than most of the comments here.

    November 14, 2007 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  17. J from Tx

    Where is the money coming from to pay for this war? A democratic alley in the Middle East, how will that happen?

    It seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors going on explaining the reasons for the war and the ability to pay for it. Trying to link the Iraq war to 911 was debunked a long time ago so, if we wanted to get the terrorists, we should have put all our resources in Afghanistan and prevented them from escaping.

    November 14, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  18. Bubba

    Where is the money coming from to pay for this war? A democratic alley in the Middle East, how will that happen?

    It seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors going on explaining the reasons for the war and the ability to pay for it. Trying to link the Iraq war to 911 was debunked a long time ago so, if we wanted to get the terrorists, we should have put all our resources in Afghanistan and prevented them from escaping.

    November 14, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  19. John from America

    That seems like a lot of money?

    November 14, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  20. r schier norwalk,ct

    Steve in SC:
    Our military resources should be used wisely, not squandered on making problems worse. A group of Saudi radicals attacked on 9/11, and it has been said 1000 times before: it had nothing to do with IRAQ.
    The U.S. has not exactly been popular in the mid-east anyways, as they have shifted alliances, installed governments, removed them, and have constantly supported Israel, and efforts tied to oil. They supported Iraq during the time of Iraq's genocide. This war has resulted in the alienation of far more people, and made it easier for those with radical views to indoctrinate these people into terrorism, etc. PNAC, and other similar think tanks had what most would consider, questionable, and/or dubious motives.
    Just think what positive changes could have come about by alternatively directing all the investment and hard work torwards achieving energy independence via development of renewable technologies. The policy is very transparently influenced by corporate/money/power interests.

    James in AZ:
    a)yes, am quite gainfully employed, and
    always have been
    b) have paid my share of taxes
    c) am not a big fan of welfare

    My comments were related specifically to health care for people who work. I
    am fortunate to work for a Fortune 500, and – at least for the time being – still have a decent set of benefits intact. I know of many others that are not so fortunate. Just because I take issue with how "unchecked" capitalism damages a society, in no way implies that I'm a socialist; I just recognize that if an economic system breaks down to the point where working, contributing members of a society cannot attain a basket of necessities, some changes are necessary. No ill feelings intended sir...I just have kids that I'm very worried about, in terms of both economic opportunity, and the ever increasing burden they will inherit from those currently running the show, who believe themselves to be "conservative"

    November 14, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  21. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    It will take many generations to truly pay for the Iraq war. Probably another raid of Social Security to enable us to pay the interest of the loans.. and for what? Even if Iraq recovers, what exactly will we have achieved?

    The British learnt the hard way, the only way to defeat terrorists is to talk with them, find out what they want and compromise. That is why the US will never defeat the terrorists, we refuse to listen, we refuse to stop meddling, we refuse to stop being terrorists ourselves.

    November 14, 2007 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  22. Tricia Charlottetown PEI

    I will never understand how some people equate being against the Iraq War with being against the Military?

    I have nothing but respect and gratitude for all military members and Veterans. I applaud and honour their bravery and sacrifice for our freedom. I understand that wars are sometimes necessary although tragic. And when war is proven to be a necessary evil I can support such violent and aggressive action.

    I have never felt the Iraq War was necessary. There is still no proof it was necessary. All efforts for a Diplomatic Solution had not been exhausted prior to initiating the Iraq War. The Nation that was invaded was not the enemy. The real enemy was given a free pass for reasons still unknown. President Bush made a decision to invade a Nation on mere speculation. Thousands of civilians and military have died needlessly as a result.

    I feel these are valid reasons for opposing the Iraq War. However, my opposition to the Iraq War has absolutely no bearing on military members.

    I have nothing but praise, admiration, respect and gratitude for each and every military member who has and who are serving their Nation and who have and who are sacrificing their lives for our freedom and safety.

    Military members are not responsible for the irrational, ill-conceived decisions made a Nation's Leader, nor will such decisions ever diminish the bravery, sacrifice and service of these men and women.

    November 14, 2007 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  23. Chris, Pensacola FL

    Anybody care what the cost is if we lose this war? Can you say Sharia law? Just a little something to think about!

    Posted By Steve in SC : November 14, 2007 10:57 am

    At least with Sharia law we won't have Homosexual TV shows. We won't have near the amount of social problems we do now. Freedom was nice while we had it, but since everyone are selfish and wicked, perhaps a return to a system of laws is for the best. As long as I can afford to pay them for being a Christian, I'll accept Sharia law of our homosexuals, drug users, adulters any day.

    November 15, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  24. James, Phoenix AZ

    Christian – Selden NY,

    You asked, "European socialism? u mean france, italy, spain?"


    Countries that would lend themselves to fall under the European Socialist model include: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, France, Norway, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Netherlands, etc.

    These countries generally embrace craddle-to-grave social entitlement programs. The same type of programs being pushed by Hillar & Co:

    Universal Healthcare
    Baby Bonds
    Government 401-K contributions
    SCHIP for families 300% above poverty level

    How has European Socialism impacted the taxes/economy of these countries? Here is a current list of Countries and the tax-rate:

    Austia: 43.9%
    Belgium: 45.7%
    Denmark: 50.4%
    Finland: 46.2%
    France: 45.8%
    Germany: 37.7%
    Norway: 41.6%
    Sweden: 52.2%

    USA: 28.9%

    It doesn't take a rocket-scientist, Christian, to figure out... the MORE social entitlement programs – the more taxes everyone pays.

    One other IMPORTANT note – as you look at these European countries, their high tax rates... NONE of them are a military force in this world.

    We must decide: Stay true to our independent entrepeneurial roots and providing for our common defense.... or... become a socialist nation and effectively sacrifice our military.

    November 15, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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