Bearing the Cost of War

Why the U.S. Should Raise Taxes -- Just As it Has in Previous Conflicts

Courtesy Reuters

After the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, the costs of these wars ballooned. In 2010, the United States spent $167 billion on “overseas contingency operations” in these theaters -- a figure that includes expenditures by the Defense and State Departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development but excludes spending on the Department of Veterans Affairs. The economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes estimated in 2008 that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will eventually cost $3 trillion, and they now acknowledge that the number may be even greater. Much of the expense for these wars has been financed by debt or represents future obligations.

Now, with U.S. forces mostly out of Iraq, the debate in Washington’s foreign policy circles has focused primarily on the war in Afghanistan, with some critics, concerned in large part about the war’s costs, advocating an accelerated withdrawal strategy. The biggest controversy

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