Human, economic and political costs of US-decision to respond to 9/11 attacks with military force

The Costs of War Project is a team of 50 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners, and physicians, which began its work in 2010. WATSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS




SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

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

  • At least 800,000 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 have died indirectly in these wars, due to malnutrition, damaged infrastructure, and environmental degradation.

  • Over 335,000 civilians have been killed in direct violence by all parties to these conflicts.

  • Over 7,000 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 approximately 8,000 have been killed.

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

  • The US government is conducting counterterror activities in 85 countries, vastly expanding this war across the globe.

  • 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 $199 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 of the Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria wars totals about $6.4 trillion. This does not include future interest costs on borrowing for the wars, which will add an estimated $8 trillion in the next 40 years.

  • 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.

COSTS OF WAR PROJECT

The Costs of War Project is a team of 50 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners, and physicians, which began its work in 2010. We use research and a public website to facilitate debate about the costs of the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the related violence in Pakistan and Syria. There are many hidden or unacknowledged costs of the United States’ decision to respond to the 9/11 attacks with military force. We aim to foster democratic discussion of these wars by providing the fullest possible account of their human, economic, and political costs, and to foster better informed public policies.

Project Goals:

· To account for and illustrate the wars’ costs in human lives among all categories of person affected by them, both in the US and in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan;

· To tell as accessible as possible a story of the wars’ costs in US federal and local dollars, including the long-term financial legacy of the wars in the US;

· To assess the public health consequences of the wars, including for the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan and for US veterans living with war injuries and illnesses;

· To describe how these wars have changed the political landscape of the US and the countries where the wars have been waged, including the status of women in the war zones, the degree to which Iraq and Afghanistan’s fledgling democracies are inclusive and transparent, and the state of civil liberties and human rights in the US;

  • To identify less costly and more effective ways to prevent further terror attacks.

Further information is available from Project co-Directors Catherine Lutz, Neta Crawford, and Stephanie Savell.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

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

· At least 800,000 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 have died indirectly in these wars, due to malnutrition, damaged infrastructure, and environmental degradation.

· Over 335,000 civilians have been killed in direct violence by all parties to these conflicts.

· Over 7,000 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 approximately 8,000 have been killed.

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

· The US government is conducting counterterror activities in 85 countries, vastly expanding this war across the globe.

· 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 $199 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 of the Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria wars totals about $6.4 trillion. This does not include future interest costs on borrowing for the wars, which will add an estimated $8 trillion in the next 40 years.

· 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.

Fact Sheet:

The True Costs of the Post-9/11 Wars The Costs of War Project has created this resource drawn from our scholarly research as an overview of the true costs of U.S. post-9/11 wars. The “post-9/11 wars” refers to United States-led military operations and other government programs around the world that have grown out of President George W. Bush's "Global War on Terror" and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The Budgetary Cost

Post-9/11 wars have been extremely costly. Through 2019, the U.S. federal government has spent or been obligated to spend $6.4 trillion on the post-9/11 wars. These wars have largely been financed by borrowing. Unless the U.S. changes the way it pays for the post-9/11 wars, future interest will exceed $8 trillion by the 2050s. The opportunity costs are staggering. Many of these funds could have been spent on public health or in sectors that create far more jobs than the defense sector, like education or green energy

The Human Costs

The body count continues to grow. At least 801,000 people – including U.S. soldiers, allied security forces, civilians, and militants – have died due to war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria (in the fight against the Islamic State), Yemen, and elsewhere. U.S. service members represent fewer than 1 percent of direct war deaths. More than 7,000 of the total casualties are from U.S. service members. A plurality of those who have died as a direct result of the counterterror wars are civilians. Many other people have died indirectly as a result of the wars. Because of war-related consequences including displacement and disease, many more people have died as a result of U.S. post-9/11 military activities.

The Environmental Cost

The Pentagon is the largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the world. It emits more greenhouse gases than whole countries, like Morocco and Switzerland. The post 9/11 wars are thus key contributors to climate change.

The Expanding Scope

The United States has post-9/11 military operations and programs run out of civilian departments for military purposes in at least 85 countries. Under the auspices of counterterrorism, U.S. operations stretch not only to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, but also to Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, Mali, and many more countries than most Americans realize

About Us

The Costs of War Project, housed at Brown University’s Watson Institute and Boston University’s Pardee Center, was launched by a group of scholars and experts to document the unacknowledged costs of the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

Please see www.costsofwar.org and don’t hesitate to reach out to us at costsofwar@brown.edu.


HUMAN COSTS


At least 800,000 people have been killed by direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan. The number of people who have been wounded or have fallen ill as a result of the conflicts is far higher, as is the number of civilians who have died indirectly as a result of the destruction of hospitals and infrastructure and environmental contamination, among other war-related problems.

Thousands of United States service members have died in combat, as have thousands of civilian contractors. Many have died later on from injuries and illnesses sustained in the war zones. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and contractors have been wounded and are living with disabilities and war-related illnesses. Allied security forces have also suffered significant casualties, as have opposition forces.

However, the vast majority of people killed are civilians. More than 310,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting since 2001.

Millions of people living in the war zones have also been displaced by war. The US post-9/11 wars have forcibly displaced at least 37 million people in and from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria.This number exceeds the total displaced by every war since 1900, except World War II.

The US could have pursued several nonmilitary alternatives to holding accountable those responsible for perpetrating the 9/11 attacks. These alternatives would have been far less costly in human lives. For example, the US invasion of Iraq has turned the country into a laboratory in which militant groups such as Islamic State have been able to hone their techniques of recruitment and violence. The formation of jihadi groups now spreading throughout the region counts among the many human costs of that war.