Iraq War Could Cost Up to $5 Trillion

“The biggest baby boom in history,” the Financial Times calls it. No, this one is not in America… it’s in Africa… Uganda to be precise, where the population has doubled in the last 20 years. By 2030 the population is expected to double again… to 60 million. Uganda is also the world’s youngest country with more than half the population under the age of 18.

We don’t think too much about population growth anymore… not in Europe or America. In places like Italy and Spain, the local population isn’t even replacing itself. The Russians’ birth rate is so low they are practically disappearing and the Japanese too. But in other parts of the world, there are more and more mouths to feed – millions of them.

But while the world adds billions of new people… and billions (trillions!) of new paper money… it doesn’t add very much in the way of wheat fields or cattle ranches. No, dear reader, there are some things are easily reproduced… and some things that are not. Back in the monetary Dark Ages, before the Enlightenment of 1971, people used to think you needed to bind a nation’s currency to something that was not easy to reproduce – specifically, gold. It was a way of assuring that the supply of money didn’t run wild. Now, we just have faith… we trust our financial authorities.

At least, some people do. Here at Markets and Money, we have faith in our central bankers and financial policymakers. We have faith that they will act like men, not like gods. They will make mistakes… they will yield to temptation… they will screw up the nation’s paper money and its economy; count on it. All things being equal… you could expect to see prices of gold, food, oil, etc, explode to the upside.

But all things are not equal, Malthus was wrong at the beginning of the industrial revolution; food production expanded faster than population. Will he be wrong now? Populations are exploding… and key resources (including food) are apparently reaching peak production levels. There’s only so much land. And so much water. And so much oil. What next? We don’t know…

Speaking of which, along come Nobel-Prize winning economy Joseph Stiglitz, with more bad news. He says the Iraq war could cost up to $5 trillion. In round numbers, that’s about $50,000 per U.S. family.

Would you pay $50,000 for this war?

No matter. History does not care whether you want it or not; it gives you what it wants… when it wants. And what it seems to want now is to bring the U.S. Empire down. How? Destroy its money. Destroy its economy. And waste its military power on wars of little consequence and great expense. That’s why we don’t blame George W. Bush; he’s merely doing History’s bidding… a man dull-witted enough to play along… to preside over the worst possible policies at the worse possible moment.

The U.S. government, of course, has no extra $5 trillion. It is already broke, by business standards. In effect, it has to borrow the money to continue the Iraq war. From whom? Who has the biggest pile of dollars? The communist Chinese… and the Arab oil exporters. Hmmm…

In WWI, Britain’s empire was on the downswing. It, too, had to borrow to be able to stay in the war. From whom? From the rising power – the U.S.A. America and Britain shared the same culture… the same ideas… the same legal system… even the same language, more or less. The Germans defeated, Britain could transfer leadership of the Anglo-Saxon empire to the United States with little disruption. But the rise, and subsequent triumph, of the next empire may not be so smooth or easy. We may wish we had that 5 trillion bucks.

Bill Bonner
Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

Latest posts by Bill Bonner (see all)

Leave a Reply

4 Comments on "Iraq War Could Cost Up to $5 Trillion"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Iraq: A Hopeless Cause It has been far to long and I am sick and tired of our country fighting a war we don’t need. With all the problems in our country, why are we concerning ourselves more with others. It has been 4 1/2 years too long and we need to take action NOW!!!! The Bush Administration needs to take a closer look at their Bible, “remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) While America has been paying attention to every other country,… Read more »

…..america…the springs are broke…soooo….she’s not going to be riding so smoothly for now….


Nice article! Loved the witty sarcasm

First off I would like to say that I am very much against the Iraq War. And I feel that a war costing up to 5 trillion dollars is crazy and completly a waste of vaulable money that we could be spending on something else more important. To spend such a massive amount of a war and to see all the poverty and bad school districts in the US and still spend that large amount on the war is a whole differnt level of stupid. The Bush Administration needs a serious reality check and to get the sticks out of… Read more »
Letters will be edited for clarity, punctuation, spelling and length. Abusive or off-topic comments will not be posted. We will not post all comments.
If you would prefer to email the editor, you can do so by sending an email to