Cost of all U.S. wars versus cost of coronapanic

It was Veterans Day last week, when we celebrated anyone who carried a gun, flew a desk, stocked shelves, or conducted gender reassignment surgery on behalf of the U.S. military. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has a budget roughly comparable to what the formidable Russians spend on their active duty military. To what could we compare our military budget that would make it look like a bargain?

What’s the scope of the spending that we’re hoping to put into perspective? Let’s start by looking at a Congressional Research Service report, “Costs of Major U.S. Wars” (figures in 2011 dollars). According to the pointy heads, the U.S. spent $4.1 trillion on World War II, $728 billion on the Vietnam War, and roughly $1.1 trillion for the first 10 years of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our other wars were insignificant in costs by comparison.

What could have cost more than all of these wars? Coronapanic! Ignoring what cities and states might have spent, e.g., paying employees who weren’t working, the federal government alone has spent roughly $10 trillion so far (

A Smithsonian National Museum of American History exhibit, November 2019:


3 thoughts on “Cost of all U.S. wars versus cost of coronapanic

  1. I eyeballed holdings of US Treasuries by foreign central banks; it seems to dive around 2010 when US started disengaging from military interventions abroad. Based on numbers you provide and if correlation is a signal of causation in this case American military paid for itself and subsidized Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other federal spending. Of course those programs are in crisis in part because taxes from them were routed to assist US foreign policy. Low yield on treasuries I believe is at least partially due to interventionist policy change.

  2. It’s going to take years of economic stimulus packages to keep up with the higher prices created by the last 4 economic stimulus packages, so the cost could be another few billion trillion.

  3. As the old saying goes, you lose 100% of the wars you don’t fight.

    Given that we seem to also lose about 50% of the wars we do fight[*], I’m going to say maybe we should fight less.

    [*] From your list: I’ll call WWII a win, Vietnam was clearly a loss, Iraq is a mixed bag, and as of a few months ago we can safely put Afghanistan down as a loss. As for our latest and most costly war, on Tuesday St. Fauci taught us that “What we’re starting to see now is an uptick in hospitalizations among people who’ve been vaccinated but not boosted.” So the lockdowns didn’t work, the masks didn’t work, and now the vaccine isn’t working. In Boosters We Trust, but the war certainly isn’t going well.

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