A week before the Iraq War began, Tim Russert reported “every analysis said this war itself would cost about $80 billion We should expect that this would cost at least $100 billion for a two-year involvement.” Brown University’s final tally was $3.2-4 trillion, or about 3500% more.
The costs of the 2003-2010 Iraq War are often contested, as academics and critics have unearthed many hidden costs not represented in official estimates. The most recent major report on these costs come from Brown University in the form of the Costs of War project, which said the total for wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is at least $3.2-4 trillion. The report disavowed previous estimates of the Iraq War’s cost as being under $1 trillion, saying the Department of Defense’s direct spending on Iraq totaled at least $757.8 billion, but also highlighting the complementary costs at home, such as interest paid on the funds borrowed to finance the wars and a potential nearly $1 trillion in extra spending to care for veterans returning from combat through 2050. An update in 2013 topped this at US$6 trillion.
Those figures are dramatically higher than typical estimates published just prior to the start of the Iraq War, many of which were based on a shorter term of involvement. For example, in a March 16, 2003 Meet the Press interview of Vice President Dick Cheney, held less than a week before the Iraq War began, host Tim Russert reported that “every analysis said this war itself would cost about $80 billion, recovery of Baghdad, perhaps of Iraq, about $10 billion per year. We should expect as American citizens that this would cost at least $100 billion for a two-year involvement.