Nobel laureate estimates wars’ cost at more than $3 trillion

WASHINGTON — When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration predicted that the war would be self-financing and that rebuilding the nation would cost less than $2 billion.

Coming up on the fifth anniversary of the invasion, a Nobel laureate now estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing America more than $3 trillion.

That estimate from Noble Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz also serves as the title of his new book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” which hits store shelves Friday.

The book, co-authored with Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes, builds on previous research that was published in January 2006. The two argued then and now that the cost to America of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is wildly underestimated.

When other factors are added — such as interest on debt, future borrowing for war expenses, the cost of a continued military presence in Iraq and lifetime health-care and counseling for veterans — they think that the wars’ costs range from $5 trillion to $7 trillion.

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