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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article provides updated estimates of the costs of the Iraq war and the Afghanistan wars. With all the caveats that one can apply, the current estimate of the cost of the two wars falls between $4 and $6 trillion. In addition to the known costs of conducting current and future military operations, caring for war veterans, and macroeconomic impacts, the most sobering costs of the Iraq conflict are in the category of opportunity costs. In the absence of the Iraq invasion, would the United States be mired for so long in Afghanistan? Would oil prices have risen so rapidly? Would the U.S. federal debt be so high? Would the economic crisis have been so severe? This article argues that the answer to all four of these questions is no.

Keywords: Iraq war, Afghanistan wars, U.S. invasion, opportunity costs, economic crisis

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