The Cost of War: 225,000 Lives, $4 Trillion

The Cost Of WarSince 9/11, U.S. wars across the globe have cost at least a quarter million people their lives and will likely reach more than $4 trillion, a new research project reports. The Cost of War by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies details the toll the wars have taken in human, economic, social and political costs.

Some of the project’s findings:

  • While we know how many US soldiers have died in the wars (just over 6000), what is startling is what we don’t know about the levels of injury and illness in those who have returned from the wars.  New disability claims continue to pour into the VA, with 550,000 just through last fall.  Many deaths and injuries among US contractors have not been identified.
  • At least 137,000 civilians have died and more will die in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan as a result of the fighting at the hands of all parties to the conflict.
  • The armed conflict in Pakistan, which the U.S. helps the Pakistani military fight by funding, equipping and training them, has taken as many lives as the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan.
  • Putting together the conservative numbers of war dead, in uniform and out, brings the total to 225,000.
  • Millions of people have been displaced indefinitely and are living in grossly inadequate conditions.  The current number of war refugees and displaced persons — 7,800,000 — is equivalent to all of the people of Connecticut and Kentucky fleeing their homes.
  • The wars have been accompanied by erosions in civil liberties at home and human rights violations abroad.
  • The human and economic costs of these wars will continue for decades, some costs not peaking until mid-century. Many of the wars’ costs are invisible to Americans, buried in a variety of budgets, and so have not been counted or assessed.  For example, while most people think the Pentagon war appropriations are equivalent to the wars’ budgetary costs, the true numbers are twice that, and the full economic cost of the wars much larger yet. Conservatively estimated, the war bills already paid and obligated to be paid are $3.2 trillion in constant dollars. A more reasonable estimate puts the number at nearly $4 trillion.

View the entire project at The Cost of War

21 Comments on "The Cost of War: 225,000 Lives, $4 Trillion"

  1. you wrote billion ‘stead of trillion

  2. you wrote billion ‘stead of trillion

    • Thanks, corrected in article.

    • I just assumed they were using British English in which a billion is equivalent to a trillion. It stems from the old usage of the word in which the word’s prefix referred to multiple millions instead of being it’s own number (i.e. a British billion is a million million and a trillion is a million million million). Officially they are supposed to have adopted the newer standard, but I still see it all over the place.

  3. Thanks, corrected in article.

  4. Guestonymous | Jul 3, 2011 at 4:41 pm |

    cui bono?

  5. Guestonymous | Jul 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm |

    cui bono?

    • Rex Vestri | Jul 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm |

      Ultimately, nobody except the global elite bankers that are financing it all.

  6. Rex Vestri | Jul 3, 2011 at 8:22 pm |

    Ultimately, to the benefit of the global elite bankers.

  7. Rex Vestri | Jul 3, 2011 at 8:22 pm |

    Ultimately, to the benefit of the global elite bankers.

  8. Anonymous | Jul 3, 2011 at 10:03 pm |

    I just assumed they were using British English in which a billion is equivalent to a trillion. It stems from the old usage of the word in which the word’s prefix referred to multiple millions instead of being it’s own number (i.e. a British billion is a million million and a trillion is a million million million). Officially they are supposed to have adopted the newer standard, but I still see it all over the place.

  9. Hey, the US.Gov got a big discount from the military equipment suppliers, so at least they didn’t pay retail.  And its a small price to pay for security of the Homeland and to bring democracy to the oppressed. $4 trillion…. no problemo, just print so more $$$$ and we’re back in biz.

  10. BuzzCoastin | Jul 3, 2011 at 10:24 pm |

    Hey, the US.Gov got a big discount from the military equipment suppliers, so at least they didn’t pay retail.  And its a small price to pay for security of the Homeland and to bring democracy to the oppressed. $4 trillion…. no problemo, just print so more $$$$ and we’re back in biz.

  11. dogbeard | Jul 4, 2011 at 3:41 am |

    Doesn’t it seem a little naive to draw those descending dotted lines like that?

  12. Doesn’t it seem a little naive to draw those descending dotted lines like that?

    • Especially the blue one. The red is just following the general trend, but there’s no reason to think the blue one is changing any.

  13. Mr Willow | Jul 4, 2011 at 6:28 am |

    I know this is old news and all, but it still amazes me to see how many more troops were in the “tangent objective” of Iraq (pre-2004 I might add) than were in our “main objective” of Afghanistan, which was presumably holding the man responsible for sending the troops over there in the first place. 

    The entire thing sickens me.

  14. I know this is old news and all, but it still amazes me to see how many more troops were in the “tangent objective” of Iraq than were in our “main objective” of Afghanistan, which was presumably holding the man responsible for sending the troops over there in the first place. And not just that, but how few were in Afghanistan to begin with.

    And what have we gotten for it? Two destabilized countries that didn’t want us there, the populations of which now are probably more infuriated with us than they were prior to our crusade, enough spilt blood to fill the Dead Sea (thanks in large part to war-crime privateering agencies like Blackwater and Haliburton), and trillions of dollars wasted on a vendetta (again, thanks in part to the paychecks we signed over to those aforementioned private “defense contrators”). In the name of What? Democracy? Liberation? Revenge? Bullshit. Nothing is worth this much trouble, especially when the one party that asserts such reasons has little to no ethical, monetary, or military support.

    And now with our involvement in Libya, Somalia, and one may only presume (and dread) Pakistan, all this shit is bound to escalate.

    The entire thing sickens me.

    May the Fates take pity on us and be clement upon the innocent; god knows we haven’t.

  15. Anonymous | Jul 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    Especially the blue one. The red is just following the general trend, but there’s no reason to think the blue one is changing any.

  16. Then there’s the 5 million homeless from Iraq, 2 million of which have fled to neighboring countries, thereby making them less stable and overstretched for resources.

  17. Then there’s the 5 million homeless from Iraq, 2 million of which have fled to neighboring countries, thereby making them less stable and overstretched for resources.

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