A new study released by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) calculated that the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could be as high as $2.4 trillion by 2017 depending on how many troops are still involved in operations in each country. The CBO ran two different cost scenarios. The first has the U.S. keeping a permanent force of 30,000 in Iraq, and the second has the force numbers at 75,000. Currently, 70% of war spending goes to Iraq, and the study doesn’t see this changing.

So far, $603 billion has been appropriated for the wars. Of this amount $533 billion has been given to the Department of Defense for military operations. $2 billion has been spent for Veterans Administration war related benefits. $30 billion has been spent to train Iraqi and Afghan security forces; $39 billion has been spent on reconstruction, and additional $3 billion on veterans’ medical care. The projected cost would be an additional $570 billion under the 30,000 troop scenario from 2008-2017. For the same time period, the 75,000 permanent troops would cost $1.055 billion.

If that wasn’t enough to blow your mind, it is estimated that the indigenous security forces in each country will cost an additional $50 billion. They will also require $26 billion more in foreign aid from 2008-2017. The really depressing estimate is that debt service for the money borrowed to pay for this war is expected to cost the American tax payer $415 billion from 2001-2017. Remember, this is just the interest payment on the money that was borrowed to finance this war. Depending on the size of the permanent forces, debt payments could rise to $175-$290 billion from 2008-2017. The total estimated cost of these wars will be $1.9-$2.4 trillion.

According to the U.S Treasury Department here is the exact amount of U.S. debt the month Bill Clinton left office, $5,728,739,508,558.96. As of yesterday, October 23, 2007, the U.S. deficit stood at, $9,057,981,725,122.80. If the war spending estimate is correct, the U.S. government will continue to dig its taxpayers a hole that they will never be able to get out of. Remember, both the top two Democrats, and all the Republicans want to leave troops in Iraq. These numbers aren’t based on hundreds of thousands, but tens of thousands of troops.

There are many reasons to be against this war, but the fact is that Americans will be paying for this folly in the Middle East for at least a generation to come. America has had a greatest generation, a counterculture generation, and me generation, I think now we had better start getting ready for the impoverished generation. That or we all had better hope that the Chinese don’t come calling for payment on this war debt.

CBO Report

US Treasury Department 

Jason Easley is the politics editor at www.411mania.com/politics His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET.

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