Cost for Iraq is reaching historic levels
Despite the cost, other factors are causing more concern.
LOS ANGELES TIMES
WASHINGTON -- By the time the Vietnam War ended in 1975, it had become America's longest war, shadowed the legacies of four presidents, killed 58,000 Americans, along with many thousands more Vietnamese, and cost the U.S. more than 660 billion in today's dollars.
By the time the bill for World War II passed the 600 billion mark, in mid-1943, the United States had driven German forces out of North Africa, devastated the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway and launched the vast offensives that would liberate Europe and the South Pacific.
The Iraq war is far smaller and narrower than those conflicts, and it has not extended beyond the tenure of a single president. But its cost is beginning to reach historic proportions, and the budgetary "burn rate" for Iraq might be greater than in some periods in past wars.
If U.S. involvement continues on the current scale, the cost of the war on terrorism is projected to surpass this country's Vietnam spending sometime next year.
And the accumulating cost is adding to resistance to President Bush's war policy in Congress as well as in public opinion, even though concern about the cost in human lives, the war's effect on America's place in the world and other such factors loom larger.
Members of Congress have talked relatively little about the war's increasing price because of the human costs, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said. "But certainly we're cognizant of it," she said. "When you say for what we're spending in a month in Iraq, you could fully fund and double the science budgets of the United States and come up with a viable alternative to oil, it puts it in perspective."
At a press briefing before Bush's speech Wednesday night, a senior administration official said the president's plan would entail 5.6 billion in military expenses and an additional 1 billion in reconstruction and other civilian costs.
In the broad landscape of federal spending, those are not huge numbers, although 6.6 billion is more than enough to cover the budgets for all the country's national parks, national forests, historic monuments, protected wetlands and wildlife refuges for a year.