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What U.S. war expenditures could have bought instead: By the numbers
The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are costing, on average, $9.7 billion a month — roughly the equivalent of six space shuttle flights
 
A U.S. marine patrols in southern Afghanistan: The U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to cost, on average, $9.7 billion per month.
A U.S. marine patrols in southern Afghanistan: The U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to cost, on average, $9.7 billion per month.
REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

The Congressional super committee has until November 23 to produce legislation to curb federal spending by $1.2 to $1.5 trillion over the next ten years — and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could be "juicy targets" for committee penny pinchers, says Nancy A. Youssef of McClatchy Newspapers. Just how much are the wars costing America and what could those titanic expenditures have paid for instead?

$3.7 trillion
Minimum total cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to the Brown University research project Costs of War. "Even small chunks" of that amount "could power many efforts at home," says Robert Johnson at Business Insider.

$12,000
Cost that figure boils down to per American

$27,041
Average per capita income in the United States for twelve months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

$9.7 billion
Amount, per month, on average, the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq are costing the U.S., as of late April, according to Defense Department figures

$27.4 billion
Annual budget of the State Department

$1.5 billion
Cost of the final shuttle mission in July. NASA could have launched the shuttle "six times for what the Pentagon is allotted to spend each month in those two wars," says Youssef at McClatchy Newspapers.

$20 billion
Annual air-conditioning costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to retired brigadier general Steven Anderson, a former chief logistician for Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq

$385 billion
Estimated cost of George W. Bush's 2003 expansion of Medicare prescription drug benefits over 10 years. "The Pentagon spends that in Iraq and Afghanistan in about 40 months," says Youssef.

$350 billion
Amount the debt ceiling agreement calls for the Defense Department to cut over the next ten years

$500 billion
Additional cuts the Pentagon would face if the super committee deadlocks or fails to have its plan approved by Congress. Those cuts are part of a prearranged set of drastic spending cuts that would be automatically triggered if the committee fails to come up with a plan to cut the deficit by an additional $1.2 trillion. "This kind of massive cut across the board, which would literally double the number of cuts that we're confronting, would have devastating effects on our national defense," says U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

$14.6 trillion
U.S national debt

1,626
Number of U.S. military troops that have died in Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press

4,474
Number that have died in Iraq since the war began in 2003

Sources: ABC News, Associated Press, Business Insider, McClatchy Newspapers, UPI.com, U.S. Census Bureau

 

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