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Cost of Iraq War Compared to Other US Wars (vanity)
07/09/07 | self (vanity)

Posted on 07/14/2007 12:32:40 PM PDT by Sherman Logan

 

 

Cost of US Wars Compared to Population, GDP and Federal Expenditures

War

US Population

GDP

Nominal

War Cost

Real War Cost

War Cost as % of GDP

Total  Federal

Expenditures

War Cost as % of Total Federal Expenditures

Total Federal Expenditures as % of GDP

War of 1812

8

1342

.09

1.2

.09

 

 

 

Mexican

20

1880

.07

0.7

.04

 

 

 

WBTS

30

2606

5.2

44.4

1.7

13.8

197.8

.53

Spanish-American

75

4943

0.4

6.3

.13

12.1

52.1

.24

WWI

103

5910

26

196.7

3.33

159.9

123.01

2.71

WWII

140

13483

288

2,092

15.52

876.8

238.6

6.51

Korea

152

12271

54

264

2.15

435.5

60.6

3.55

Vietnam

205

19614

111

346.7

1.77

944.6

36.7

4.82

Iraq

301

38232

405

405

1.06

2213.7

18.3

5.76

 

US Population is expressed in millions for the year the war ended.

GDP is expressed in year 2000 dollars for the year the war ended. Conversion rates are considerably less meaningful for years prior to 1900.

Nominal War Cost is expressed in (billion) dollars of the year the war ended.  This is not always the year war expenditure was highest, notably for WWI, when expenditures were much higher in 1919 than 1918.   It is the total cost of that war for all years, not just the year the war ended. Amounts do not include pension costs and other benefits for veterans, which over time tend to triple the cost of the war.

Real War Cost is expressed in year 2000 (billion) dollars for the year the war ended. This is not always the year war expenditure was highest, notably for WWI, when expenditures were much higher in 1919 than 1918.  It is the total cost of that war for all years, not just the year the war ended.  Conversion rates are less meaningful for years prior to 1900. Amounts do not include pension costs and other benefits for veterans, which over time tend to triple the cost of the war.  Conversion rates are considerably less meaningful for years prior to 1900.

Total Federal Expenditures is the total amount of money spent by the federal government in the year the war ended, expressed in year 2000 dollars. It is included to allow some comparison between the cost of the war and the size of the federal government in general at that time. These numbers do not include “off budget” items such as Social Security, which are an increasingly larger percentage as time goes by. Thus real Total Federal Expenditures are increasingly understated in later years, both in dollars and as a % of GDP. Conversion rates are considerably less meaningful for years prior to 1900.

War Cost as a % of Total Federal Expenditures uses year 2000 dollars for both amounts. It is included to allow some comparison between the cost of the war and the size of the federal government in general at that time. Conversion rates are considerably less meaningful for years prior to 1900.

Total Federal Expenditures as a % of GDP uses year 2000 dollars for both amounts. It is included to allow some comparison between the cost of the war and the size of the federal government in general at that time. Conversion rates are considerably less meaningful for years prior to 1900.

Notes: WBTS costs do not include Confederate War Cost or other numbers for the CSA, and certainly not the cost of the destruction of (mostly) southern property and infrastructure, mainly because I was unable to find good numbers for these amounts. Although by 1865 the CSA hardly had a GDP.  The capital lost just by the freeing of the slaves (in financial terms this constituted confiscation of capital) was probably at least $3B at the time, or perhaps $32B in year 2000 dollars. Some of this value was lost from Union states, but the vast majority was lost by (formerly) CSA states. The total financial cost of the war to the CSA was undoubtedly much higher than to the USA, and it was spread out over a much smaller population. However, I’ve been unable to quantify this cost.

I was unable to locate Total Federal Expenditures for the years the War of 1812 and Mexican Wars ended, but in each case the % applied to War Cost would be very high.  I was also unable to locate much good data on the cost of the Revolutionary War, so I left it out entirely.  Much of the US cost for the Gulf War was paid by contributions from allies, so I left this war out also.

Prior to WWII Total Federal Expenditures took a nosedive in the years immediately following each war, so the Total Federal Expenditures for the year the war ended is not representative of Total Federal Expenditures for the period in general.  Following WWII Total Federal Expenditures are not affected nearly as much by whether a war is in progress or not, they just trend upwards every year regardless.

 

 



TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: warcosts
We see so many claims that the Iraq war is wildly expensive. I thought comparing its cost to that of other US wars by GDP and Total Federal Expenditures at the time might be interesting. Data is the best I could come up with, but is inherently problematic, especially for the WBTS and other pre-1900 wars. It is also possible I dropped a decimal somewhere. :)

I am a vanity virgin, so please be gentle.

Moderator, if this is not an appropriate post, please feel free to delete or move it.

1 posted on 07/14/2007 12:32:42 PM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

Thanks for posting. Also interesting that the US population has increased by almost 100 million since the Vietnam War!


2 posted on 07/14/2007 12:37:39 PM PDT by operation clinton cleanup
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To: Sherman Logan

Total percentage of expenditure for Iraq according to you is 18%. The total cost of WWII, a war fought on a global scale is 238%. So, this tiny little war is 1/15 the scale of a global war. How can that be justified?


3 posted on 07/14/2007 12:37:48 PM PDT by raybbr (You think it's bad now - wait till the anchor babies start to vote.)
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To: Sherman Logan

Very informative.

Nice to see it called the WBTS and not the inaccurate CW too.


4 posted on 07/14/2007 12:38:23 PM PDT by Weeedley
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To: Sherman Logan

A chart you will never see printed in the MSM, that’s for sure


5 posted on 07/14/2007 12:40:29 PM PDT by stm (Fred Thompson in 08! Return our country to the era of Reagan Conservatism)
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To: raybbr
So, this tiny little war is 1/15 the scale of a global war. How can that be justified?

I don't know that is can be justified, but the reasons are pretty clear.

Compare the cost of providing and maintaining WWII military equipment to that of today.

Compare what we pay each soldier to what we paid in 1945. Volunteer armies are a lot more expensive per soldier than conscript armies.

Essentially we are spending a LOT of money in a largely successful effort to reduce the number of deaths and injuries suffered by our troops.

6 posted on 07/14/2007 12:42:23 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Weeedley

IMHO, neither term is entirely accurate, but I use WBTS because I think it is slightly closer to accurately reflecting the nature of the war.

Which term you prefer is generally determined by which side you feel was in the right. :)

Of course, I could have referred to it as the Great Rebellion. :)


7 posted on 07/14/2007 12:46:32 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Sherman Logan

Two critiques of the posting.

First, it accepts the left’s false partition of the Iraq campaign from WW IV (usually ill-named the ‘Global War on Terror’), just as it accepts the false paritioning of the Vietnam and Korean campaigns from the whole of WW III (usually called the Cold War).

Second, it’s missing our first foreign war: the Barbary War. Which it is good to remember, since our first foreign war was also against militant Islam.


8 posted on 07/14/2007 12:48:47 PM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: Sherman Logan
War for Southern Independence in these parts...
9 posted on 07/14/2007 12:54:21 PM PDT by Weeedley
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To: The_Reader_David

I don’t disagree with your comments. I used the most commonly accepted definition of US wars.

Feel free to post numbers for our wars as you define them.

Given your criteria, WWIII, the Cold War, would be far and away the most expensive of our wars, mainly because it lasted over 40 years.


10 posted on 07/14/2007 12:54:37 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Sherman Logan

Thank you for the post. Very interesting.


11 posted on 07/14/2007 12:55:51 PM PDT by BlessedBeGod
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To: Sherman Logan

Good work! Bookmarked.


12 posted on 07/14/2007 12:56:06 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: Sherman Logan
Compliments. With credits, are we free to use this in postings elsewhere???
13 posted on 07/14/2007 12:57:51 PM PDT by GoldCountryRedneck ("Flying is like Life: Know where you are, where you're going, and how to get there." - 'Ol Dad)
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To: The_Reader_David

The Barbary War was actually two wars. One fought from 1801 to 1805, the other during 1815.

The Second Barbary War was much more successful. After tangling with the Royal Navy in the War of 1812, Barbary pirates weren’t hard to handle.


14 posted on 07/14/2007 12:58:50 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: GoldCountryRedneck

Feel free.


15 posted on 07/14/2007 12:59:32 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: operation clinton cleanup
Too much of that surge was via the unfenced soft underbelly of the lower 48 and and bumper crop of anchor-babies.... We should be at 260 M thereabouts.
16 posted on 07/14/2007 12:59:36 PM PDT by Weeedley
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To: Sherman Logan

If you lived in the South, it was referred to as the War of Northern Agression.


17 posted on 07/14/2007 1:01:54 PM PDT by richardtavor (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem in the name of the G-d of Jacob)
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To: Sherman Logan
I agree, good work and thanks for the work.Just one more piece of info that one will not see from MSM. I prolly missed it but what was source?
18 posted on 07/14/2007 1:02:35 PM PDT by VaRepublican (I would propagate tag lines but I don't know how...)
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To: Weeedley

OTOH, without Roe v. Wade we might be closer to 350M.


19 posted on 07/14/2007 1:03:08 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Sherman Logan

Thanks


20 posted on 07/14/2007 1:04:08 PM PDT by elfman2 (An army of amateurs doing the media's job.)
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To: Sherman Logan

BTW, does everyone know that this war was the first war for the Marines. In fact, they are called leathernecks because they wore leather collars to keep the Muslim pukes from cutting their heads off...


21 posted on 07/14/2007 1:04:48 PM PDT by richardtavor (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem in the name of the G-d of Jacob)
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To: Sherman Logan

Very interesting. Thank you for your analysis.


22 posted on 07/14/2007 1:07:55 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ( “A nation without borders is not a nation.” —Ronald Reagan)
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To: VaRepublican

Data was compiled from a number of sources.

US Census, several sources for cost of wars, articles on US expenditures over the years, and an inflation calculator. I could post a list of urls if that would be helpful.

I spent half a day trying to find such a chart on the Web, without success. So I gave up and compiled it myself, more or less from original sources. I had no idea what it would show.

As stated, I make no claim that I didn’t make any errors. This is just my best effort.

A very interesting fact I ran across is that there was zero inflation in the US between 1800 and 1900. In fact, a dollar was worth more in 1900 than in 1800. Deflation.


23 posted on 07/14/2007 1:08:06 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Sherman Logan

Nice work. but obviously we need a fairness doctrine to counter your facts.


24 posted on 07/14/2007 1:10:21 PM PDT by VaRepublican (I would propagate tag lines but I don't know how...)
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To: raybbr
How can that be justified?

You're alive and you are free in the face of enemies who would deny you either...or both.

25 posted on 07/14/2007 1:10:27 PM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not Free. Never has been, never will be. (www.dragonsfuryseries.com))
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To: richardtavor
Leathernecks..hmmmmm.. here’s one from the last century:

jarhead: Records from Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps cite references that state, “Jarhead is probably parallel to, or derived from, jug head.” Leatherneck magazine in 1933 cited Army soldiers as being called jarheads. However, according to limited information, the term as it applies to Marines is traced to the Navy in WW II. Sailors referred to Marines, drawing from the resemblance of the Marine dress blue uniform, with its high collar, to a Mason jar.

26 posted on 07/14/2007 1:11:10 PM PDT by Weeedley
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To: richardtavor

. . .which is why the “War Between the States” is probably the best nomenclature here on FR:

“The War of Northern Aggression” overlooks the fact that the CSA fired the first shots in an attempt to dislodge the Federal garrison at Fort Sumter.

“The Civil War” accepts the unitary-state abrogation of the Tenth Amendment that the Northern position entailed.

WBTS gives a nod to the correct position of the CSA on states rights, while not being so pro-Southern as to invoke the (false) accusation of being pro-slavery.


27 posted on 07/14/2007 1:11:48 PM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: Sherman Logan

Nice analysis. The main problem the Left has with war is that it diverts funding from social programs. War against communist dictatorships and other totalitarian regimes is also an affront to their sense of preferred social order.


28 posted on 07/14/2007 1:13:28 PM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham (Elections have consequences.)
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To: Jeff Head

bttt


29 posted on 07/14/2007 1:14:18 PM PDT by 1035rep
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham

Well said.


30 posted on 07/14/2007 1:15:20 PM PDT by 1035rep
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To: The_Reader_David

I agree.

With reservations as to whether the extreme states-rights position of the seceding states was correct. This is a matter of opinion, not fact.

However, it is a matter of fact that most southerners believed they were fighting primarily for their state and its rights, which means the term has a southern tinge, which is fair enough since they started the war.

Few of the soldiers from New York believed they were fighting primarily for NY.


31 posted on 07/14/2007 1:16:57 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Sherman Logan

Hard money with circulating silver and gold and paper redeemable in kind. Now we have “FR notes” and coins that are more copper than any other content.


32 posted on 07/14/2007 1:17:23 PM PDT by Weeedley
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To: Sherman Logan
The South didn’t start the war, the were just serving an Eviction Notice to federal trespassers as provided in common law.
33 posted on 07/14/2007 1:20:35 PM PDT by Weeedley
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To: Weeedley

With the exception of the years during and immediately after the WBTS this is correct.

I wonder if anybody has determined how a gold-based currency would work today? A massive gold strike somewhere would cause high inflation, as the amount of money is a direct reflection of the amount of gold in circulation.

Despite a precious-metals based economic system, the Hellenistic period and the early modern periods has high inflation. Caused respectively by Alexander’s looting the hoards of the Persian kings, and the Spanish looting of American gold and (especially) silver hoards and mines.

In addition, transmutation of metals is probably technologically and possibly even economically feasible today or in the near future, making a system based solely on precious metals somewhat precarious.


34 posted on 07/14/2007 1:23:59 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: The_Reader_David

“of being pro-slavery.”

or pro-monopoly/industry/high control or a combination thereof


35 posted on 07/14/2007 1:24:43 PM PDT by combat_boots (She lives! 22 weeks, 9.5 inches. Go, baby, go!)
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To: Weeedley

Perhaps I should have said they started the shooting. That’s a fact.

I personally believe they started the war, but that’s an opinion.


36 posted on 07/14/2007 1:24:59 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Sherman Logan

Good work, Sherm.


37 posted on 07/14/2007 1:25:42 PM PDT by combat_boots (She lives! 22 weeks, 9.5 inches. Go, baby, go!)
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To: Sherman Logan
You just may be mind-numbingly correct...LOL
38 posted on 07/14/2007 1:26:00 PM PDT by Weeedley
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To: Weeedley

Something I’ve been accused of before. :)


39 posted on 07/14/2007 1:27:33 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Sherman Logan
We shore do luv our shootin’ down here...
40 posted on 07/14/2007 1:28:04 PM PDT by Weeedley
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To: combat_boots

Thanx!

I’ve always thought it makes more sense to mutually agree on what the facts are and then argue about what they mean. Most arguments, on FR and elsewhere, seem to try to combine the two modes of discussion, which in my opinion works poorly and in the interest of the guy with the weaker argument.

Its main effect is that no argument ever ends.


41 posted on 07/14/2007 1:31:01 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Sherman Logan
A list of URLs would be helpful. I would like to post this on a left-leaning board. They will scream Source, Source. Thanks for posting
42 posted on 07/14/2007 1:39:15 PM PDT by Cpl.Nym
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To: Cpl.Nym

Here you go. I believe this is all the sources. As I’ve said, I can’t vouch directly that all the numbers are correct. They’re just the best I could find.

http://eh.net/hmit/gdp/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_the_United_States

http://republicans.appropriations.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=GeneralInformation.BackgroundInformation

http://www.civilwarhome.com/population1860.htm

http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy05/sheets/hist01z1.xls

http://www.mnforsustain.org/united_states_population_growth_graph.htm

http://www.npg.org/facts/us_historical_pops.htm

http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2006/pdf/hist.pdf

http://zfacts.com/p/447.html
http://www.cwc.lsu.edu/other/stats/warcost.htm


43 posted on 07/14/2007 2:00:18 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: GoldCountryRedneck

It would be nice if you could send me a link when you post it elsewhere. I’m interested in what others have to say.


44 posted on 07/14/2007 2:09:49 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Sherman Logan

So what is the cost of maintaining the military involved in this war and their equipment if they were not in Iraq, i.e. stationed somewhere else in the world or just on their bases in the U.S.? They all still have to be paid, there still has to be eqipment for training and drill and they still have to maintain the equipment and buy new stuff. So how much is the difference? Isn’t that the real cost of the war?


45 posted on 07/14/2007 2:30:43 PM PDT by Albertafriend
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To: Sherman Logan
Save for reference...you hit the bigtime, you are a reference.
46 posted on 07/14/2007 2:33:07 PM PDT by crazyhorse691 (The faithful will keep their heads down, their powder dry and hammer at the enemies flanks.)
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To: Albertafriend

Excellent point, which is supposedly allowed for in this source from the Congressional Research Service.

http://zfacts.com/p/447.html

But there are so many games that can be played with the numbers by somebody with an ax to grind that your guess is as good as mine.


47 posted on 07/14/2007 2:39:20 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.)
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To: Sherman Logan
This indicates that about 1/3 of total Defense expenditures are for the Iraq war. I wonder if that is correct? If so, given that defense spending has only risen about 10% since the last Clinton budget, you can see that the military is being hollowed out to fight the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hell holes such as Djibouti where we have troops deployed in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

It means that we are cutting nearly everything else. R&D is taking a big hit, bigger than under Clinton. They are cutting funding for the mess halls for Pete's sake.

Normally Defense expenditures as a fraction of GDP rise quite a bit during a shooting war. This time the increase was only about 10% and that was from a post WW-II low of less than 3% of GDP.

48 posted on 07/14/2007 4:04:38 PM PDT by El Gato ("The Second Amendment is the RESET button of the United States Constitution." -- Doug McKay)
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To: Sherman Logan

The War for Southern Independence.


49 posted on 07/17/2007 6:55:02 PM PDT by Pelham (Deportation- without it you have amnesty.)
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To: Weeedley

Great minds...


50 posted on 07/17/2007 6:56:02 PM PDT by Pelham (Deportation- without it you have amnesty.)
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