|It seems so ridiculous now. A decade ago, the Bush administration estimated the cost of war with Iraq at $50 billion to $60 billion. Money well spent when you considered the good that would come out of the action, many thought.
A new report out this month shows how incredibly low that estimate was. Total U.S. taxpayer spending on that war is up to $1.7 trillion, according to the Costs of War Project. And the numbers keep rising. When you include future disability payments for veterans, interest payments and other expenses, the total cost of the war could surpass $6 trillion.
And what good did the war do? Not much, if you ask the Iraqis. A separate report this month from the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction shows little evidence that all that money did any real good in the country or helped its citizens.
"With all the money the U.S. has spent, you can go into any city in Iraq and you cannot find one building or project" built by the U.S. government, Acting Minister of Interior Adnan al-Asadi said in the report. "You can fly a helicopter around Baghdad or other cities, but you cannot point a finger at a single project that was built and completed by the United States."
The war killed some 134,000 Iraqis, according to Costs of War, a project from the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. The institute compiled research from about 30 academics and other experts for the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
The war gave new life to the radical Islamist cause in Iraq, the report said. Other experts say the war helped to further destabilize the Middle East.
As the years pass, public sentiment against the war is hardening. And a few of the decision makers in charge have expressed regret.
"If we had had the foresight to see how long it would last and even if it would have cost half the lives, we would not have gone in," Steven Bucci, the military assistant to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the run-up to the war, told Reuters. "Just the time alone would have been enough to stop us. Everyone thought it would be short."