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WoT: CostCost of War on Terror since 9/11: $5.6 trillion

Published 8 November 2017

As of late September 2017, the United States wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria and the additional spending on Homeland Security, and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs since the 9/11 attacks totaled more than $4.3 trillion in current dollars. Adding likely costs for FY2018 and estimated future spending on veterans, the costs of war total more than $5.6 trillion. Over 6,800 U.S. soldiers have died in the wars.

10th Mountain Division troops in Afghanistan // Source: commons.wikimedia.org

As of late September 2017, the United States wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria and the additional spending on Homeland Security, and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs since the 9/11 attacks totaled more than $4.3 trillion in current dollars through FY2017. In a comprehensive study, Neta Crawford Adding likely costs for FY2018 and estimated future spending on veterans, the costs of war total more than $5.6 trillion. This report focuses on U.S. federal budgetary costs and obligations for America’s wars since 9/11.

Crawford’s report is part of the Cost of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute. The Cost of War report, first released in 2011, has been compiled and updated by more than thirty economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists as the first comprehensive analysis of over a decade of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. The Costs of War Project analyzes the implications of these wars in terms of human casualties, economic costs, and civil liberties.

Summary of findings
Some of the Costs of War Project’s main findings include:

· 370,000 people have died due to direct war violence, including armed forces on all sides of the conflicts, contractors, civilians, journalists, and humanitarian workers.  

· It is likely that many times more than 370,000 people have died indirectly in these wars, due to malnutrition, damaged infrastructure, and environmental degradation.

· 200,000 civilians have been killed in direct violence by all parties to these conflicts.

· Over 6,800 U.S. soldiers have died in the wars.

· We do not know the full extent of how many U.S. service members returning from these wars became injured or ill while deployed.

· Many deaths and injuries among U.S. contractors have not been reported as required by law, but it is likely that at least 6,900 have been killed. 

· 10.1 million Afghan, Iraqi, and Pakistani people are living as war refugees and internally displaced persons, in grossly inadequate conditions.

· The United States has made an estimated 76 drone strikes in Yemen, making the United States arguably at war in that country.  

· The wars have been accompanied by erosions in civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad.

· The human and economic costs of these wars will continue for decades with some costs, such as the financial costs of U.S. veterans’ care, not peaking until mid-century.

· U.S. government funding of reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan has totaled over $170 billion. Most of those funds have gone towards arming security forces in both countries. Much of the money allocated to humanitarian relief and rebuilding civil society has been lost to fraud, waste, and abuse.

· The cost for the Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan wars totals about $4.8 trillion. This does not include future interest costs on borrowing for the wars, which will add an estimated $8 trillion through 2054.

· The ripple effects on the U.S. economy have also been significant, including job loss and interest rate increases.

· Both Iraq and Afghanistan continue to rank extremely low in global studies of political freedom.

· Women in Iraq and Afghanistan are excluded from political power and experience high rates of unemployment and war widowhood.

· Compelling alternatives to war were scarcely considered in the aftermath of 9/11 or in the discussion about war against Iraq. Some of those alternatives are still available to the US.

— Read more in Neta C. Crawford, United States Budgetary Costs of Post-­‐‑9/11 Wars Through FY2018: A Summary of the $5.6 Trillion in Costs for the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Post-­‐‑9/11 Veterans Care and Homeland Security (Watson Institute of International & Public Affairs, Brown University, November 2017)