Wednesday, September 01, 2021

The cost of US wars in lives and dollars


According to Brown University's Costs of War Project, which has been releasing reports on the financial and human costs of the post-9/11 wars at regular intervals since 2010, the total cost of the war and military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and elsewhere over the last two decades have directly killed at least 897,000 to 929,000 people—an estimate the researchers say is conservative.

The financial cost for the United States will ultimately be upwards of $8 trillion.

Since 9/11:

  • $2.3 trillion is attributed to the Afghanistan/ Pakistan war zone;   
  • $2.1 trillion is attributed to the Iraq/Syria war zone; and   
  • $355 billion was attributed to other battlefields, including Libya, Somalia, and elsewhere
  •  $1.1 trillion was spent on Homeland Security programs
  • $2.2 trillion is the estimated obligation for the future care of U.S. veterans who served in the various wars.
According to another report, State of Insecurity: The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11 (pdf), released by the National Priorities Project in the 20 years since the September 11 attacks, the United States government has spent more than $21 trillion at home and overseas on militaristic policies that led to the creation of a vast surveillance apparatus, worsened mass incarceration, intensified the war on immigrant communities, and caused incalculable human suffering in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and elsewhere.

The National Priorities Project (NPP), an initiative of the Institute for Policy Studies, estimates that of the $21 trillion the U.S. invested in "foreign and domestic militarization" in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, 

  • $16 trillion went to the military,
  • $3 trillion to veterans' programs, 
  • $949 billion to DHS, and 
  • $732 billion to federal law enforcement.

According to the report, it would have cost far less than $21 trillion for the U.S. to make major investments in climate action and other key global and domestic priorities. As the analysis notes:

  • $4.5 trillion could fully decarbonize the U.S. electric grid;
  • $2.3 trillion could create five million $15-per-hour jobs with benefits and cost-of-living adjustments for 10 years;
  • $1.7 trillion could erase student debt;
  • $449 billion could continue the extended Child Tax Credit for another 10 years;
  • $200 billion could guarantee free preschool for every 3-and-4-year old for 10 years, and raise teacher pay; and
  • $25 billion could provide Covid vaccines for the population of low-income countries.

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