Global Opportunity Costs: How the Iraq War Undermined U.S. Influence

The first weeks of the Iraq War included bombing of Baghdad targets in March, 2003. The first weeks of the Iraq War included bombing of Baghdad targets in March, 2003. Jerome Delay/AP file photo

When people talk about the cost of the war in Iraq, they speak about the hundreds of billions of dollars that frittered away in the Mesopotamian dust and the spilled blood of Iraqi, American, British, Italian, Polish, Spanish and countless other souls swept up in a conflict that has no natural ending.

They talk about the domestic opportunity cost and just what those hundreds of billions of dollars could have bought at home instead of the military hardware that began falling apart less than two years after the invasion began, or idealistic infrastructure projects all over Iraq that deteriorated in a pit of corruption and neglect.

They talk about the advancements in education, healthcare and a national transportation system that could have been funded instead, or the possibility that the global financial crisis might not have hit the U.S. economy quite so hard had that money not been spent on a war at a time of the U.S.'s choosing.

While all those costs should be taken into consideration, another looms just as large: the international opportunity cost.

Read more at The Atlantic

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