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Post-9/11 War on Terror costs $6.4 trillion plus 801,000 deaths

Report was prepared at Brown University

The two reports were prepared by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Catherine Lutz, Costs of War co-director and a Brown Professor who authored the projects’ report on deaths said: “The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don’t end when soldiers come home. These reports provide a reminder that even if fewer soldiers are dying and the U.S. is spending a little less on the immediate costs of war today, the financial impact is still as bad as, or worse than, it was 10 years ago,” Lutz added. “We will still be paying the bill for these wars on terror into the 22nd century.”

The report can be viewed here. Part of the summary notes: “These wars,and the domestic counter-terror mobilization,have entailed significant expenses, paid for by deficit spending.Thus, even if the United States withdraws completely from the major war zones by the end of FY2020and halts its other Global War on Terror operations, in the Philippines and Africa for example, the total budgetary burden of the post-9/11wars will continue to rise as the US pays the on-going costs of veterans’ care and for interest on borrowing to pay for the wars.Moreover, the increases in the Pentagon base budget associated with the wars are likely to remain, inflating the military budget over the long run.”

The Human Cost report

The report Human Cost of Post-911 Wars
tallies direct deaths in major war zones and groups people by civilians, humanitarian and NGO worker, journalists and media workers, US military members, Dept. of Defense civilian and contractors, and members of national and military police forces and other allied troops and opposition fighters.

The report reports death in six categories: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria/ISIS, Yemen and “Other”. The civilian death percentage across all categories is up to 335,745 or almost 42 percent of the total.

Indirect deaths are not calculated

However, the report does not even consider indirect deaths caused by starvation, lack of water, and war-related diseases caused by destruction of infrastructure.

David Vine
a professor at the American University and board member of the Costs of Wat noted in an article in The Hill that indirect deaths are generally estimated to be four times higher than direct deaths and said: “This means that total deaths during the post-2001 U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen is likely to reach 3.1 million or more—around 200 times the number of U.S. dead.” Vine went on:”Don’t we have a responsibility to wrestle with our individual and collective responsibility for the destruction our government has inflicted? Our tax dollars and implied consent have made these wars possible. While the United States is obviously not the only actor responsible for the damage done in the post-2001 wars, U.S. leaders bear the bulk of responsibility for launching catastrophic wars that were never inevitable, that were wars of choice.”

The US Budgetary Costs and Obligation of Post-9/11 wars

Vine also remarked on the opportunity costs of the $6.4 trillion spent on finance post-9/11 wars. The funds could have been used to feed those in need of food, improve schools, help prevent global warming, improve infrastructure and pay f or healthcare.

A summary of the costs can be found at this website
including a pie chart representation of costs. There is also a link to the entire paper.

The $6.4 trillion includes spending in a number of categories: overseas contingency operations(OCO); interest on borrowing for OCO; war-related spending in the Pentagon budget; medical and disability care for post-0/11 veterans; and finally Dept. of Homeland Security spending for prevention of and responding to terrorism.

Neta Crawford a co-director of the project and a professor at Brown claimed that there had been a trend to less transparency in reports about the cost of funding among some major agencies. There had also been institutionalization of the costs in the Department of Defense base budget, and the budgets of the Dept. of State and Homeland Security. There was also a growing cost for veteran’s medical care and disability payments.

Further remarks by Lutz

Lutz said that the data from the two reports have had an effect in Congress leading some to make calls to put an end to the join resolution to authorize the use of military force. Lutz maintained that if you count all parts of the federal budget that are military related it makes up two-thirds of the total federal budget. Lutz claimed that most people realize this enormous cost or that these expenditures are crowding out expenditure for other national purposes that are not war related.

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