President Obama has announced his commitment to draw down American forces in Iraq after seven years of combat. There will be 90,000 fewer troops in Iraq by the end of next year. But will the costs – financial, human, emotional – come down as the troops come home?
One of the foremost experts in the cost of this war, Linda Bilmes, says "we're only just beginning to know the full cost of this war." There are still many unknowns, from the cost of long term veterans' care to replacing damaged and depreciated equipment. There are also difficult questions: How should we assess future costs, such as the 90,000 troops who will leave Iraq but may end up stationed in neighboring Kuwait. Should that count in the cost of this war?
Answers to these questions will take a long time to be sorted out, hindering discussions on how to assess if the war was worth it, financially or strategically. Should money even be considered in the same way as security?
We discuss all this with Bilmes, who is the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Professor of Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School and co-author, with Joseph Stiglitz, of "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict."