The US war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with $490 billion more owed in benefits to combat veterans, a recent study revealed. The report found that total expenses in the unavailing conflict could balloon to $6 trillion over the next 40 years.
The study, conducted by the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, concluded that the accrued interest on the nearly $2.2 trillion in expenses would amount to some $4 trillion dollars during the coming decades, Reuters reports.
At the time of the 2003 invasion, the Bush administration estimated the war would cost between $50-60 billion.
Published in advance of the 10th anniversary of the March 19 US-led invasion of Iraq, the study also estimated the great human cost inflicted by the nearly decade long conflict.
At least 134,000 Iraqi civilians died as a result of the Iraq War, though the Watson Institute says the death toll could be up to four times higher. The report stated that with the inclusion of slain journalists, aid workers and insurgents, the base level death toll reached an estimated 176,000- 189,000.
A 2006 peer-reviewed Lancet study had found that 650,000 Iraqis – both combatants and civilians – had died up to that point. Other estimates had previously put total war deaths as high as 1 million.
An estimated 36,000 American military personnel were also killed or injured during the war.
A view of crosses marking soldiers lost during the war in Iraq is seen at Arlington West on Santa Monica Beach, California, 25 November 2007.
The Watson Institute study further found that US gains from the invasion were negligible, while Iraq was still reeling from the war.
“Despite the US military withdrawal,” the report says,
“Iraq’s health, infrastructure, and education systems remain war-devastated.” The war further galvanized radical Islamist militants in the region and set back women’s rights, while
“the $212 billion reconstruction effort was largely a failure with most of that money spent on security or lost to waste and fraud.” The study was an update of a 2011 report which estimated the costs of the US military engagements in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq at $3.7 trillion. The latest report puts that cost at some $4 trillion dollars
In the run up to the war, the US and the UK claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction which posed a threat to regional security.
The U.S.‑led Iraq Survey Group would later conclude that Iraq had ended its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs in 1991 and had no active programs at the time of the invasion.