The Three Trillion Dollar War
|The Three Trillion Dollar War|
|Author(s)||Joseph E. Stiglitz
|Publisher||W. W. Norton|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Dewey Decimal||956.7044/31 22|
|LC Classification||DS79.76 .S698 2008|
The book examines the full cost of the Iraq War, including many hidden costs. The book also discusses the extent to which these costs will be imposed for many years to come, paying special attention to the enormous expenditures that will be required to care for very large numbers of wounded veterans. The authors conclude by illustrating the opportunity cost of the resources spent on waging the war. The book was a New York Times and international best-seller and has been translated into 22 languages.
The total cost of $3 trillion is consistent with numerous government studies. These include the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which estimated that the war will cost $3.5 trillion, and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which has projected that the total cost will reach between $1.4 and $2.2 trillion. The Stiglitz-Bilmes work builds on an earlier study by Yale economist William Nordhaus, who predicted in 2002 that the war could reach $2 trillion if it went badly. Numerous economists, including James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas and Nobel Laureate Lawrence Klein have supported the methodology in the book. Economist Fred Foldvary also wrote a positive review of the book in Econ Journal Watch. He believes better knowledge of both the budgeted and implicit costs of the war as spelled out in the book will further a more coherent dialogue on present and future related policy matters.
Alan B. Krueger argued the estimate was too high for three reasons. First, it counts future interest payments on the debt created by military spending as well as the direct expenditures, which is double counting. Second, it counts increased military recruitment costs that incorporate a premium for higher risk of death or injury and the direct cost of the deaths and injuries, which is also double counting. Third, it attributes to the war an increase in the price of oil, and loss to the American economy of almost half a trillion dollars.
Other academics, including John Lott, Richard Zerbe, and Edgar Browing, echo those criticisms, and in addition challenge the Lancet surveys of Iraq War casualties to determine the number of Iraqi deaths. Recent studies by Brown University, published online at  confirm the high costs of the war identified by Stiglitz and Bilmes.
- Radio interview of Stiglitz and transcript about this book, May 29, 2009.
- The Times Online: The three trillion dollar war
- Aida Edemariam talks to author Joseph Stiglitz about the true cost of the Iraq war | World news | The Guardian
- Joint Economic Committee Report on the Cost of the Iraq War
- Congressional Budget Office Testimony on the Cost of the Iraq War
- War in Iraq: Costs, Consequences and Alternatives
- Foldvary, Fred E.. 2008. Uncovering the Costs of the Iraq War. Econ Journal Watch 5(3): 373-379.
- Economic Scene: The Cost of Invading Iraq: Imponderables Meet Uncertainties, by Alan B. Krueger, New York Times, March 30, 2006
- Is It Really a '$3 Trillion War'?, John R. Lott Jr., FoxNews.com, June 16, 2008