Search This Blog

09 March 2011

the cost that dare not speak its outlandish cost / the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan pass the 10-year mark -- with no hint of an end to the Afghanistan War -- it's pathetic to note how little and how rarely the American political dialogue, Democratic or Republican, mentions the COST of these wars, and the cost's sickening effect on an already sick economy.

Agreeing never to talk about the cost is VERY DIFFERENT from believing the wars are somehow free, or somehow pay for themselves.

The COST of these never-ending wars is truly America's Elephant in the Bathtub. For advocates and defenders of the wars, talking about their bizarre, staggering cost is a threat to the popular and political support the wars need to keep going.

Opponents of the war don't talk about or emphasize the bizarre cost because the cost is so outlandish that everyone is stunned into silence by these incomprehensible numbers. Especially since we know we're paying for nothing, or for worse than and less than nothing

Earlier this month we paid a huge amount for a drone attack in Afghanistan which mistook children for enemy insurgents, and killed nine Afghan children. We paid hard cash for a huge spike in the hatred the Afghan people feel for us. If our robot combat systems, directed from afar by video game pilots, can give the green light to killing nine children, it is unlikely we can quickly fix these systems to prevent further and frequent killings of Afghan children and non-combatant civilians.

We're buying an increasing accumulation of hatred from the people we expect to be happy that we continue to make war against the Taliban. a tiny remnant of al-Qaeda, and local warlords who instinctively resist any outside military which threatens their traditional control and local autonomy. They are becoming less and less happy that we insist on making war in Afghanistan.
~ ~ ~


Cost of both wars to the United States since 2001:

Cost of Iraq war to the United States since 2001:

Cost of Afghanistan war to the United States since 2001:


My town, Chesterfield, Massachusetts, has about 1201 people (2000 census). Here's what we've been forced to pay in taxes for the two wars.


Cost of both wars to Chesterfield MA since 2001:

Cost of Iraq war to Chesterfield MA since 2001:

Cost of Afghanistan war to Chesterfield MA since 2001:


May 28, 2010
11:39 AM
CONTACT: National Priorities Project
Christopher Hellman, Communications Liaison, 413.584.9556 or

Jo Comerford, Executive Director, 413.584.9556 

Crossing the $1 Trillion 
Cost Of War Line

NPP’s Cost of War counter 
hit $1 trillion on May 30, 2010

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- On May 30, 2010, at 10:06am, the National Priorities Project Cost of War counter = designed to count the total money appropriated for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- will reach the $1 trillion mark.

To date $747.3 billion have been appropriated for the U.S. war in Iraq and $299 billion for the war in Afghanistan.

The pending supplemental making its way through Congress will add an estimated $37 billion to the current $136.8 billion total spending for the current fiscal year, ending September 30.

What Can You Get For $1 Trillion?

Federal Funding For Higher Education -- $1 trillion would give the maximum Pell Grant award ($5,500 student loan) to all 19,000,000 U.S. college and university students for the next 9 years.

For $1 trillion, you could provide:

294,734,961 people with health care for one year, or

21,598,789 public safety officers for one year, or

17,149,392 music and arts teachers for one year, or

7,779,092 affordable housing units, or

440,762,472 children with health care for one year, or Head Start [a very successful pre-school education program] places for children for one year, or

16,427,497 elementary school teachers for one year, or

1,035,282,468 homes with renewable electricity for one year

In your community:

Taxpayers in Natick, Massachusetts will pay $206.9 million for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. For that amount, instead of implementing a proposed 4 percent cut for Natick's libraries in 2011, the town could double its total current library budget, and pay for it for 56 years.

Taxpayers in the Borough of Brooklyn, New York will pay $9 billion for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. That's enough to supply renewable electricity to every household in Brooklyn for 19 years.

As college and university tuitions grow, community colleges are increasingly popular sources of affordable education. At Greenfield Community College in Massachusetts, for the cost of the Afghanistan war "surge" (est. $37 billion) you could cover all tuition and fees for all full- and part-time (half-time) students for the next 762 semesters (381 years).  


$1,000,000,000,000 ("1" and twelve zeros)

If you earned $1 million a year, it would take you 1 million years to earn $1 trillion.

In Dollar Bills:

If you converted $1 trillion into one dollar bills, and laid them end to end, it would reach 98 million miles. That's 4,000 times around the Earth. Its 205 trips to the Moon. And back. It's more than the distance to the Sun.

In Silver Dollars:

If someone handed you a silver dollar every second, it would take almost 32,000 years for them to hand you $1 trillion. Not that you could hold them -- they'd weigh nearly 9 million tons.

About NPP's Cost of War Counters

NPP's Cost of War counters provide information on the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for each of the 50 states.

The counters also provide cost amounts and "trade-off" data for hundreds of U.S. cities and towns.

To see NPP's Cost of War counters and our Notes & Sources, visit


The National Priorities Project (NPP) is a 501(c)(3) research organization that analyzes and clarifies federal data so that people can understand and influence how their tax dollars are spent.  Located in Northampton, MA, since 1983, NPP focuses on the impact of federal spending and other policies at the national, state, congressional district and local levels.  For more information, go to

No comments: