The cost of the Iraq war could top $2 trillion after factoring in long-term healthcare for wounded US veterans, rebuilding a worn-down military, and accounting for other unforeseen bills and economic losses, according to a new analysis to be presented today in Boston.
The estimate by Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes far exceeds projections made by the Bush administration.
The figure is more than four times what the war was expected to cost through 2006 -- around $500 billion, according to congressional budget data.
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Predicting overall costs when no one knows how long the war will last, or how many US troops will remain deployed and for how long, is an imprecise exercise.
But the range of some future expenses can be assessed, such as the likely medical bills and disability payments for the soldiers who have been wounded in the conflict.
Twenty percent of them, for example, have serious brain or spinal injuries that will require life-long care.