Michael Pascoe writes:

With the American public losing
faith in its country’s Iraq adventure, a Nobel Prize winning economist
has come up with a bottom line cost to the US for the disaster: US$2
trillion.

That’s about A$2.8 trillion – $2,800 billion – which
is bigger than Australia’s trade deficit and John Howard’s hotel bills
combined. It’s also about ten times the size of the official cost
estimate provided by the Pentagon.

Columbia University’s
Joseph Stiglitz won the 2001 Nobel Prize for economics and is a former
World Bank chief economist and adviser to President Clinton. He has
also been a prominent critic of the Iraq war, so the estimates he’s
prepared with Linda Bilmes from Harvard will almost certainly be
dismissed by the likes of the US and Australian governments.

The
big difference between the White House’s US$200 billion and Stiglitz’s
US$2 trillion is the inclusion of the hidden costs the academics
believe have been ignored by the Administration.

For example,
there’s the lifetime medical care for 16,000 US personnel: according to
Stiglitz, 20% of injured US personnel have brain injuries; 6% have had
amputations; another 20% have other serious injuries; others will have
various health and mental problems in the future; and disability pay
and health care costs will continue for several decades.

Stiglitz
and Bilmes find another US$25 billion from the extra US$5 a barrel they
estimate the war has added to the oil price to date – a figure that
can’t helping bringing to mind yet again Rupert Murdoch’s infamous
justification for the adventure that it would be all worthwhile when
oil is $20 a barrel again.

There’s a good Reuters report on the study here.