US Has Spent a Staggering $4.3 Trillion on Wars Since 9/11
November 10, 2017 teleSUR & The Costs of War Project / Brown University
According to a new report from Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs: "The US wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the increased spending on homeland security and the departments of defense, state and veterans affairs since the 9/11 attacks have cost more than $4.3 trillion in current dollars through fiscal year 2017" -- more than triple the amount reported by the Pentagon.
The Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs illustrates the human toll of the post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Video by Professor Catherine Lutz, Costs of War Project Director, in collaboration with Computing and Information Services and with animation created by Yidan Zeng.
US Spent a Staggering $4.3 Trillion on Wars Since 9/11 teleSUR
(November 9, 2017) -- A new "Costs of War" report published by Brown University's Watson Institute shows the actual costs incurred by the US as part of its global "war on terror" that widely contradicts the cost of war figures put together by the Pentagon in its report.
The report points out some of the Pentagon report's most staggering shortcomings and inadequacies in measuring the war costs incurred. Pentagon's report, titled, "Estimated Cost to Each Taxpayer for the Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria" stated the total authorized spending for wars in these conflict regions, was US$1.46 trillion, the figure accounts for only the Defense Department's spending.
Whereas the US university report that included several other costs put the figure at $4.3 trillion for the time spanning September 2001 and 2017.
"The US wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the increased spending on homeland security and the departments of defense, state and veterans affairs since the 9/11 attacks have cost more than $4.3 trillion in current dollars through fiscal year 2017," the report reveals.
"Adding likely costs for fiscal year 2018 and estimated future obligations for veterans' care, the costs of war total more than $5.6 trillion."
The $5.6 trillion figure does not even include the amount US spends in operations in the Horn of Africa, Uganda, Trans-Sahara, the Caribbean and Central America as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The report which is part of the "Costs of War" project, accounts for not just the Defense Department's spending but also some of the departments that are often neglected in Pentagon's war cost accounting reports, like the spendings of state departments, homeland security, veterans and the interest US has paid so far on the money it has borrowed to wage wars.
Whereas the average taxpayer has spent $23,386 on the wars since 2001 compared the $7,740 figure as purported by the Pentagon in its report.
"The American public should know what the true costs of these choices are and what lost opportunities they represent," Catherine Lutz, project co-director and a professor of international studies and anthropology at Brown University, said.
"Given that the current administration has announced more years of war in Afghanistan and elsewhere, this total will only grow," Lutz said.
The Cost of Wars report admitted that despite including many costs, there are still some expenses incurred that haven't been included in the budget estimates.
"Although this report's accounting is comprehensive, there are still billions of dollars not included in its estimate," Neta Crawford, Costs of War co-director and a professor of political science at Boston University, told Brown University.
"For example, the report's total does not include the substantial costs of war to state and local governments -- most significantly, the costs of caring for veterans -- or the millions of dollars in excess military equipment the US donates to countries in and near the war zones," she added.
The report stressed on the opaqueness and lack of accountability in Pentagon's reports.
"The Pentagon's areas of global war on terror operations have enlarged significantly but are not always clearly enumerated in its public summaries of their activities," Crawford said.
"Future interest costs for overseas contingency operations spending alone are projected to add more than $1 trillion to the national debt by 2023," she added.
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 US soldiers have died in the wars.
* We do not know the full extent of how many US service members returning from these wars became injured or ill while deployed.
* Many deaths and injuries among US contractors have not been reported as required by law, but it is likely that at least 6,900 have been killed.
* 10.1 million million Afghan, Iraqi, and Pakistani people are living as war refugeesand internally displaced persons, in grossly inadequate conditions.*
* The US has made an estimated 76 drone strikes in Yemen, making the US 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 US veterans' care, not peaking until mid-century.
* US 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 US 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.
* Source: The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) (2015).
WATSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
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