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The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict Paperback – 5 Mar 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (5 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141036524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141036526
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,051,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'If you have to trust somebody in matters of economics, you could do worse than a Nobel Prize-winning former chief economist of the World Bank ... the superb achievement of this book, however, is how little you do have to take on trust' - Sam Leith, Telegraph

About the Author

Joseph Stiglitz was Chief Economist at the World Bank until January 2000. He is currently University Professor of the Columbia Business School and Chair of the Management Board and Director of Graduate Summer Programs, Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester. He won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001 and is the author of the best-selling Globalization and Its Discontents, The Roaring Nineties, and Making Globalization Work, all published by Penguin.

Linda J. Bilmes is a Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University. During the Clinton administration, she served as Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
ON MARCH 19, 2003, the United States and its "coalition of the willing" invaded Iraq. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 2 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
The US invasion of Iraq was an act of aggression, which violated international law.

Its premises were false: Saddam Hussein didn't possess weapons of mass destruction and there was no link between the Iraqi government and the 9/11 attacks.
The obvious reason for the Iraq war was oil. After the invasion, the Iraqis were free (even to use their ammunition supplies), but not to lay their hands on the keys of the Oil Ministry or the oil production facilities.

The results of this unlawful war are truly catastrophic.
For Iraq, about five hundred thousand people died as `collateral damage'; 2 million people fled the country; 2 million people are refugees within Iraq's borders. There is less electricity and water than before the war. Corruption is rampant. There is no law or order and no jobs. The country is governed by a religious, not a secular government. Roads, schools, hospitals, houses and museums are destroyed.
For the US, there are 4000 casualties. 58000 injured and hundreds of thousand of veterans (1 out of 4) claiming disability benefits for amputations, skin diseases, blindness, spinal damage or heavy mental problems (see the formidable movie `The Mark of Cain' by Mark Munden).
Internationally, the US is no longer seen as a bastion of civil rights and democracy. It is seen as a warmonger with a defense budget that equals the budgets of all other countries in the world combined. The Middle East is less secure than before the war. Also, costly time has been lost for tackling global issues like climate change or North Korea's nuclear program.

And of course, there is the money cost.
The Bush government estimated the total war cost at no more than 1.7 B US$ (for some it was even a zero operation).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tristan Martin VINE VOICE on 31 Mar 2010
Format: Hardcover
War is always a sign of failure. In human terms, that terrible cost is usually quite obvious. The financial cost of war can be harder to determine. In The Three Trillion Dollar War, two highly-regarded economists - Nobel Prize winning Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard teacher Linda Bilmes - attempt to put a dollar price tag on just how much the war cost the taxpayer.

In a highly accessible style, the authors look at obvious costs, such as how the rising cost of a barrel of oil impacts the economy, as well as the shamefully overlooked costs of what it takes to provide life-time care for injured veterans. Stiglitz and Bilmes also cast a global eye on the European economies, as well as the impact in the poorer countries of Africa and of course, the citizenry of the Middle East.

This book is not only critical of what has gone wrong, the authors include a realistic set of recommendations to ensure that future wars should be properly budgeted for and that cost should be openly discussed with those who will be paying for it. There is, of course, some mention of who the "war on terrorism" has been profitable for, notably the energy industry and the no-bid, cost-plus government contractors such as Haliburton, who, in a more ethical previous generation, might have been roundly denounced for being war-profiteers but in the current intellectual climate, are to be found at the very bosom of government.

Easy to read and almost entirely equation free (you'll have to search in the methodology notes for a few), The Three Trillion Dollar War provides a valuable perspective on the financial cost of a terrible war of choice, all the more persuasive given that its authors Stiglitz and Bilmes, have served in government themselves.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Habibi on 10 Jun 2008
Format: Hardcover
For me this book (which I've just finished) has given me 3 insights:

1) Geez, war really does cost a lot. I can't see how any politician in his / her right mind would ever commit their country to such an economy-destroyer. The US and UK are shown to have cunningly tried to both disregard and hide the costs of invading Iraq, and to a lesser extent, Afghanistan, to a shockingly immoral and callous extent. You won't be surprised to know the Iraqis haven't exactly done well out of the war either. Unless you're a defence contractor, war just isn't worth it.

2) Politicians will go to extreme lengths for their own short term gain, at almost any cost. It really is depressing, reading that the US army employs so many contractors to keep the army fatality numbers lower, but at such a cost that they don't give their own troops proper equipment or reasonable medical care after injury or PTSD. That's material cost. The authors also include goodwill towards America and Britain - this book is very well thought out.

3) Politicians again I'm afraid: The Bush administration has managed to hump much of the costs onto the next generations in the form of interest payments, without anyone (apart from the authors) really noticing. This is really quite serious and I winced as I read what services might have to be cut so that this war can be paid off.

The facts and figures are presented clearly and give no doubt that the proper research and reasonable methods / assumptions have been made by the authors, who I must thank for this book. I can't think of any adult who shouldn't read this. The headline figures are very interesting but the book provides more than that; it gave me an education into the non-military effects of war, and how devastating they invariably are.
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