The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Iraq War Costs to Top $2.89T by 2050

20 Years After U.S. Invasion of Iraq, Costs of War Updates Estimates of Human and Budgetary Costs of War in Iraq and Syria War Zone

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island

The total costs of the war in Iraq and Syria are expected to exceed half a million human lives and $2.89 trillion, according to new estimates estimates released today by the Costs of War Project. This budgetary figure includes costs to date, estimated at about $1.79 trillion, and the costs of veterans’ care through 2050.

Since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, between 550,000-580,000 people have been killed in Iraq and Syria, the current locations of the United States’ Operation Inherent Resolve — and several times as many may have died due to indirect causes such as preventable diseases. More than 7 million people from Iraq and Syria are currently refugees, and nearly 8 million people are internally displaced in the two countries.

“The Bush administration was convinced and assured the American people and the world that the war would have few casualties of all kinds — civilian and military — and would lead to quick victory,” writes Oxford professor and Costs of War co-director Neta C. Crawford, author of the analysis. “As the Costs of War project has documented consistently, these optimistic assumptions are confronted by a record of death, high and ongoing costs, and regional devastation.”

Crawford also estimates that 98 to 122 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCO2e) were emitted from U.S. military operations between 2003 and 2021 in the war zone, calculated as 12 to 15 percent of the DOD’s total operational greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. war in Iraq began on March 19, 2003. Most allied and U.S. forces left Iraq in 2011, but the U.S. returned to significant military operations in Iraq and Syria in late 2014 in fighting that was undertaken to remove Islamic State from territory it had seized in those two countries.

The war continues, with a nearly $400 million budget request from the Biden Administration this month to counter ISIS.

The Costs of War Project is a team of 50 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners, and physicians, which began its work in 2010. We use research and a public website to facilitate debate about the costs of the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the related violence in Pakistan and Syria. There are many hidden or unacknowledged costs of the United States' decision to respond to the 9/11 attacks with military force. We aim to foster democratic discussion of these wars by providing the fullest possible account of their human, economic, and political costs, and to foster better informed public policies.