With policymakers contemplating whether to re-inject U.S. forces into Iraq, now is a good time to contemplate the opportunity costs America incurred the last time it intervened there. Costsofwar.org calculates that the U.S. has spent $1.7 trillion on the military campaign in Iraq since 2003, if the total is expressed in current dollars. The same amount of buying power spent differently would have enabled Washington to cut the corporate income tax rate in half, or build genuinely robust defenses against nuclear attack, or invest three times as much in domestic infrastructure as the interstate highway system cost, or establish a sizable colony on Mars. Staying out of Iraq might also have made it possible to avoid implementing Obamacare — either by increasing coverage under Medicaid or by simply not electing Obama as president. After all, Obama got elected mainly because of dissatisfaction with the way the Iraq war was going. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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