The United States of America has spent nearly $6 trillion on wars that directly contributed to the deaths of around 500,000 people since the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
According to an annual report from the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, the total cost of the war on terror will reach roughly $5.9 trillion through the fiscal year 2019.
This is far higher than the Pentagon’s official calculation of$1.5 trillion because it goes beyond Defense Department appropriations and includes the cost of “spending across the federal government that is a consequence of these wars.”
Between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan – including nearly 7,000 US troops – according to the Costs of War project.
Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs published its annual “Costs of War” report Wednesday, taking into consideration the Pentagon’s spending and its Overseas Contingency Operations account, as well as “war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.”
The report also factors in war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.
“If the US continues on its current path, war spending will continue to grow,” the report states.
“Even if the wars are ended by 2023, the US would still be on track to spend an additional $808 billion to total at least $6.7 trillion, not including future interest costs,” the report adds. “Moreover, the costs of war will likely be greater than this because, unless the US immediately ends its deployments, the number of veterans associated with the post-9/11 wars will also grow.”
The war on terror was born out of the 9/11 terror attacks over 17 years ago.
Nearly two decades later, America is conducting counterterror operations in 76 countries and US troops are fighting and dying everywhere from Afghanistan to Niger.
At this point, it’s not clear what victory would even mean in the context of this broad conflict, which the US public seems to pay less and less attention to.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is dead. But the Taliban seem stronger than ever in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and its affiliates are active across multiple continents, and the US is also still fighting against the Islamic State group.
It’s unlikely the roughly 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan will be coming home anytime soon, and the same goes for the approximately 2,200 US troops in Syria.
The war has been accompanied by hundreds of thousands of deaths as well as violations of human rights and civil liberties, both at home and abroad.
Beyond the monetary issues related to the so-called war on terror, there’s a massive human cost as well.