The United States has spent more than $126bn on the war in Iraq, which will ultimately cost every American family an estimated $3,415, according to a new report by two thinktanks.
The report, published yesterday by the leftwing Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy in Focus also counts the human costs.
As of June 16, before yesterday's nationwide attacks, up to 11,317 Iraqi civilians and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers or insurgents had been killed, according to the report, which is titled Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War.
The death toll among coalition troops was 952 by the same date, of which 853 were American. Some 694, were killed after George Bush declared the end of major combat operations on May 1 last year. Between 50 and 90 civilian contractors and missionaries and 30 journalists have also been killed, the report says.
In a separate USA Today/ CNN/Gallup Poll released last night, for the first time a majority of Americans said the US-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake. In all, 54% of those polled said the move was a mistake, compared to 41% three weeks ago.
"We are paying this enormously high price for failure," Phyllis Bennis, the report's lead author, said yesterday. "It's not as if we are becoming more safe. It's not as if we are bringing peace to Iraq or democracy to the Middle East."
There was no immediate re sponse to the report from the White House yesterday, but the administration has insisted it will stay in Iraq until it has brought peace and stability in the country.
It was reported yesterday that the US central command had put 25,000 more troops on standby in anticipation of an upsurge in attacks after the formal transfer of sovereignty to a caretaker administration next Wednesday.
Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary, said he could not confirm the figures in volved, but the US military "definitely has plans to deal with whatever may confront us". He denied US forces were facing an insurgency in Iraq. "An insurgency implies something that rose up afterwards ... It is a continuation of the war by people who never quit," he told NBC television.
"We know the enemy, which is a mixture of al-Qaida-type terrorists like [Abu Musab al] Zarqawi and the killers of Saddam's regime, who have basically made an alliance with each other, are going to target this next six-month period to create as much chaos ... as they can." However, he added: "The longer-term goal is to get Iraqis in the frontlines."
On top of the $126.1bn war spending approved by US Congress to date, another $25bn is likely to be spent by the end of this year.
The report predicted the war will ultimately cost each US household $3,415; its annual costs would be enough to provide healthcare for more than half of the 43 million US citizens who lack medical insur ance. Danielle Pletka, an analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, rejected such budget comparisons as intellectually dishonest. "That's not the way budgets work," she said. "I don't think healthcare has been robbed to pay for Iraq."
Paying the Price quotes a University of Texas economist, James Galbraith, as predicting that although the expenditure would initially boost the economy, long-term problems were likely, including an expanded trade deficit and high infla tion, with the spike in oil prices adding to the downward drag on the US economy.
However, Mr Wolfowitz predicted Iraqi oil would begin to flow at faster rates and help offset the cost of the reconstruction of Iraq. "There's been $20bn of Iraqi money that's almost never mentioned. Ten billion of it was leftover [UN] oil-for-food money. Ten billion is brand-new oil revenues. There's another $8bn that's projected, if the killers don't destroy the pipelines, by the end of this year," he said.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004