Iraq War Costs U.S. More Than $2 Trillion: Study

NEW YORK (Reuters/AP) -
Tears run from the eyes of President George W. Bush during a ceremony in honor of Medal of Honor winner Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham in the East Room of the White House in Washington in this January 11, 2007, file photo. (REUTERS/Jim Bourg/Files)
Tears run from the eyes of President George W. Bush during a ceremony in honor of Medal of Honor winner Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham in the East Room of the White House in Washington in this January 11, 2007, file photo. (REUTERS/Jim Bourg/Files)

The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion, with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.

The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.

The report, the work of about 30 academics and experts, was published in advance of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

It was also an update of a 2011 report the Watson Institute produced ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks that assessed the cost in dollars and lives from the resulting wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

The 2011 study said the combined cost of the wars was at least $3.7 trillion, based on actual expenditures from the U.S. Treasury and future commitments, such as the medical and disability claims of U.S. war veterans.

That estimate climbed to nearly $4 trillion in the update.

Meanwhile, attackers unleashed a carefully planned assault with car bombs and gunmen disguised as police on the Iraqi Justice Ministry on Thursday, killing at least 24 people as hundreds of others crouched, terrified, in their offices.

The large, complex raid in the heart of downtown Baghdad came less than a week before the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, showing how vulnerable this country remains to insurgent attacks.

The fighting lasted about an hour, ending with security forces storming the four-story building after some of the gunmen detonated suicide vests, according to police and witnesses. None of the attackers survived.