Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Cost of war in Iraq in relation to GDPs

I have seen various “Cost of War in Iraq” counters. This made me wonder how much money that really is. Because it looks like a lot!

I figured a good way to do it would be to compare it to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of several countries. The estimated cost of the war is about $159,214,000,000 at the time of this post.

Now let’s relate that number to The United State’s GDP which is, $12,955,370,000,000.
That makes the total cost of the war in Iraq only one per cent of our Nations GDP. This is miniscule. However, it does not look so small when compared to the GDP of other nations.

For example, the cost of the war has almost reached Argentina’s GDP ($161,899,000,000). The shocker about this is that Argentina is the 36th richest country in the world (179 different countries)!

The Argentina example may be staggering, but the most powerful example I have found about the cost of the war is its relation to the poorest countries in the world.

The cost of the War in Iraq is equal more than the combined Gross Domestic Product of 65 of the poorest countries.

Nepal, The Bahamas, Mozambique, Haiti, Mali, Burkina Faso, Brunei, Zambia, Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Namibia, Chad, Georgia, Cambodia, Madagascar, Republic of the Congo, Nicaragua, Benin, Papua New Guinea, Guinea, Niger, Armenia, Zimbabwe, Netherlands Antilles, Barbados, Laos, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Swaziland, Togo, Malawi, Fiji, Tajikistan, Rwanda, Central African Republic, Mongolia, Lesotho, Mauritania, Suriname, Sierra Leone, Belize, Cape Verde, Antigua and Barbuda, Maldives, Guyana, Bhutan, Seychelles, Saint Lucia, Burundi, Eritrea, Djibouti, Grenada, The Gambia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Comoros, Samoa, East Timor, Vanuatu, Guinea-Bissau, Dominica, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Kiribati, São Tomé and Príncipe

Yes! That is 65 countries! And their combined GDP is $156,919,000,000. 3 billion less than the cost of the war!

Since I compiled all of this information, it is your job to think about what kind of use this money could have gone to, instead of helping one country, we could have helped 65. If we were just handing out presents, we could have matched 65 of the poorest countries GDP. That would undoubtedly help a huge chunk of the world.

In fact, the combined population of these countries is around 291,090,910 people. That is roughly the population of the United States, the third largest country. If we split up the $159,214,000,000 (cost of the war) to all of the people in these 65 countries, they would all receive about 547 dollars! In some countries where people receive as little as $5 dollars a day for living that would help out tremendously! I hope this help put the cost of war into global context. After all, if we do not spend it on ourselves, we might as well send it to something good!


Jennifer and Eric said...

I just want you to know, that while doing this, I did a lot of math, some numbers might be a little bit off, but I am pretty sure they are alright! If anyone wants to do the math, I got all of my information about GDP and Population from Wikipedia.
Also, I got the amount the war has cost from Cost of War.

I encourage you all to look at both of these sites.

Michael L. said...

Hey, great math work, even if it's not perfect! This shows very explicitly how wasteful war is, and it's important people gain a sense of exactly how much money they're spending. I'm definitely linking to this post!

Anonymous said...

Nice work. Looks like we're spending a lot of money on trying to "create a democracy" while impending democracy here at home. Three women were kicked out of a Bush rally today in Colorado. The only conclusion that they can come up with is that they had a bumber sticker on their car that said "no more blood for oil."


Anonymous said...

oops, typo. I meant "impeding" democracy here at home, not "impending." I wish we had and impending democracy.


Jordan said...

I'm completely opposed to wealth resdistribution as it tends to destroy wealth not create it. Course I'm Libertarian, so that pretty much precludes me from being in favor of wealth distribution.

"What we could have done with the money" is a stupid argument. We did what we did, and now its causing major revolutions in countries throught the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Zimbabwe is holding elections. There have pro-democracy protests with over 100,000 people in Lebanon, Bahrain and Belarus, a 1 million person demostration in Taiwan and reforms in countries from Burma, in which the monarchy voluntarily proposed a democratic Constitution, to Egypt, where fair elections will be held, to Saudi Arabia, which held its first elections of any kind recently, to Quatar, which is moving towards a more representative government. The money was well spent.

Cody said...

Well Jordan, our own two party system that we use right now isn't really what I think our Forefathers were going for, it’s functional, but it’s far from Democracy. I’m not sure if we should be spreading it around until we work out the kinks ourselves. If only the first person to get herpes would have held out a bit...

Also, "'What we could have done with the money' is a stupid argument.", is a stupid argument. Even though you did your homework, and are in fact very correct (I checked), we still have a lot of work to do on our own system before we go roving around like a blind prostitute, passing it out at 200 trillion a pop; it still has some side-effects (namely boils and pain while urinating). Moreover, looking at what could have been done does bring up some very thought-provoking questions, such as "Why don't we think of these things?" and "Oh shit, did we really screw that up?".

Cody said...


Wealth distribution in the United States and wealth distribution in a third world country are two different things.

Cody said...


200 billion*, my 0 counting skills are in need of some fine tuning.

Jordan said...

Look, I'm registered with a third party, Libertarian, so whining about our two-party system does nothing for me. I vote third and I still think a two-party system works... much better than parlimentary.

However, your assertion that we're far from democracy is entirely accurate, and hopefully always will be. We are a representative republic with constitutional values. That's our government form, not democracy, and that's much better than democracy. There are four perfect but unachievable government systems: Communism, Anarchy, Fascism and Democracy. All of them are perfect and all are unachievable because of some bery basic principals of psychology.

We should never strive towards true democracy... we'll fall on our nose if we do.

The thing about wealth distribution in third world countries is that the money is much more likely to be imbezzled and corrupted than distributing it in the US, which means I'm even more opposed to it.

PS: I didn't ahve to do my homework on the revolutions round the world... I've been covering them at my blog because the MSM won't. God forbid ANYTHING good come from bush's policies.

Freeman said...


Thankks for the comment thast you put in my Blog. I agree that this war costs a lot in Dollars but no-one can put a price on human life and freedom. Remember, one of the points that was raised by the South during the civil war was that if freedom of slaves costs a lot of money, and it may bankrupt the South. I am sure that you agree with the fact that Civil war with all its costs and human life losses was a well justified war. I beleive someday you all agree with me that the freedom of the middle east people is also a nobel cause.


Brian H said...

It's "noble"; and Nobel Prize. People mix them up all the time. ;\

The old "give fish" vs. "teach fishing" comparison is only part of the story. In many situations the influx of aid kills local businesses and farms trying to sell food, etc. Who can compete with free? And I read recently of Zambian mountain villagers who plant trees, etc., get paid, and they go out and destroy the trees so they can be paid to do it all over again. Now there's a warped "aid economy"!

Check out de Soto, and his techniques for reviving "dead capital".

Brian H said...

many objections to your conclusions, and one to your numbers:

GDP is an ANNUAL figure. The cost of the war stretches over 2+ years, and includes substantial spending on updating and reconstructing the decrepit infrastructure of Iraq. Furthermore, some of that figure is duplicative; i.e., it's money that the military would have spend anyway, sitting at home on their hands and/or thumbs.

Brian H said...

**would have spent**

Brian H said...

Here's a Hernando de Soto info link: how's $10,000,000,000,000 (trillion) grab ya?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, EC. This post has just saved the world. All your bitching has paid off.

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Gone Fishin',