UNITED STATES

The cost of war comes as “a total surprise”

With the presidential election well under way in the United States, the cost of war is a sensitive subject for the ruling Republicans. And every penny counts. The Center for Arms Control and NonProliferation tallies up every cent spent on the main U.S wars and publishes its findings online. We spoke to the creator of the project about why he feels it's important to publish the figure.

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With presidential elections well under way in the United States the cost of war is a sensitive subject for the ruling Republicans. And every penny counts. The Center for arms control and non-proliferation tallies up every cent spent on the main U.S wars and publishes its findings online. And they have just been updated. World War II easily tops the table with a whopping $3.2 trillion (€2.2 trillion). But still climbing and currently in second place, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have almost reached $700 billion (around €500 bln) combined. The centre treats this information as a warning, they predict that if troops remain in both countries until 2018 as Bush said may well happen, the final cost will be over a trillion dollars. We spoke to the creator of the project about why he feels it's important to publish the figures.

"Bush funds military costs outside of the normal budget”

Commentary from Travis Sharp, creator of the project:

A few years ago the Congressional Research Service decided to do a study on how much the U.S spends on wars. So we decided to publish them on the site. All we do is take the figures and apply inflation rates. We decided to put it into a historical context to draw attention to the enormity of current spending. I think it's a shock to the American people. If you walked up to the average person on the street and told them almost 700 billion had been spent on Afghanistan and Iraq, I think it would come as a total surprise.

This has been done before, but the problem now, is that the Bush administration funds military costs through a supplementary fund, not the usual channel. Originally this was done for a good reason, it was so that the government could allocate money quickly in a time of disaster [following of September 11]. But it's 2008 now, it's been over six years since September 11. And they're still trying to call it an ‘emergency supplement'! This means that the public has been shielded from the real cost of the wars.

Today congress will announce its military budget for the fiscal year of 2009. But its only asking for $70 billion (€43 bln); not for the full amount they'll really need. This is tricky; it means that if a Democratic president is elected in, then no sooner than they arrive they'll have to allocate money to the war. Now seeing as the Democrats have vowed to cut back on the war, they wouldn't be able to keep their promise. It's not only a bad process, it's bad politics."

Historical costs of U.S. wars

Taken from armscontrolcenter.org