The new report by the Congressional Research Service estimates the U.S. has spent $648 billion on Iraq war operations, putting it in range of the $686 billion, in 2008 dollars, spent on the Vietnam War -- the second most expensive war behind World War II. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. has doled out almost $860 billion for military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
All estimates, adjusted for inflation, are based on the costs of military operations and don't include expenses for veterans benefits, interest on war-related debts or assistance to war allies, according to the nonpartisan CRS.
The report underscores how the price tag has been gradually rising for the war in Iraq, which began in March 2003. In late 2002, then-White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels estimated the Iraq war would cost $50 billion to $60 billion. A year later, L. Paul Bremer III, then-chief of the U.S. occupation government in Iraq, said the war would cost $100 billion.
The Iraq war has consumed less of the nation's gross domestic product than other pricey conflicts. It represented 1% of GDP in the peak year of the war. World War II, with a $4.1-trillion price tag in 2008 dollars, was nearly 36% of GDP, and the Vietnam War was 2.3% of GDP in that war's peak years.
The report says comparisons of war expenses "are inherently problematic" because the definition of war costs vary.
© 2008 Associated Press