The Economic Cost of a U.S. Military Strike on Syria

by Jo Comerford

National Priorities Project Examines the Cost of War:
Beginning with the Tomahawk Cruise Missile

Northampton, MA – As federal lawmakers and the American people grapple with the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Syria, National Priorities Project (NPP) announces the release of a new interactive tool tracking the Cost of National Security. The site features counters displaying the real-time cost of U.S. military programs, including the Tomahawk Cruise Missile – the weapon to be used in a strike on Syria.

Tomahawk Cruise Missiles Will Cost Taxpayers $36,000 Every Hour in 2013

“In 2013, the Pentagon already plans to purchase 200 Tomahawk missiles for a total cost to U.S. taxpayers of $320 million in just one year, or over $36,000 every hour,” said Jo Comerford, Executive Director at NPP. “That cost would spike if we ultimately fired hundreds of missiles at Syria, as we did in Libya.” In 2011, U.S. forces fired 110 Tomahawk missiles in the first hour of the strike on Libya. That conflict cost the nation upwards of $1 billion.

In addition to the Tomahawk, the new Cost of National Security site displays rolling counters tracking the cost per hour of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the entire Department of Defense, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Foreign Military Aid, and Homeland Security.

The site also allows users to see the local cost of these programs for 9,900 cities and towns, and every state, Congressional District, and county in the nation. In tandem with NPP’s Trade-Offs tool, users can see what their city or town could have bought instead – from police officers to school teachers to Pell grants.

Impossible to Predict the Cost of Intervention in Syria

“Back in 2003, Bush administration officials projected $60 billion as a high-end estimate for the Iraq war,” said Mattea Kramer, NPP’s Research Director. “A decade later, the cost of the Iraq war has exceeded $800 billion – including $7 billion this year. Bottom line, right now, it’s impossible to know if military intervention in Syria will cost the U.S. $100 million or hundreds of billions.”

Little Support for Military Intervention

According to recent polling, only 26 percent of Americans support military intervention in Syria, while 40 percent favor humanitarian assistance instead. In addition to military-related spending, Cost of National Security tracks humanitarian aid and spending on a host of domestic programs. Said Comerford, “National Priorities Project created Cost of National Security to provoke a national debate about what it takes to be a secure nation.”

Jo Comerford
Executive Director
National Priorities Project
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National Priorities Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan federal budget research organization.