On September 11 2011, 2996 people were killed and some buildings were destroyed in a series of terrorist attacks. These costs we know. What has been the cost of America’s reaction?
The Eisenhower Study Group made up of researchers at Brown and Boston Universities has released a new report entitled Costs of War in which they tally up the various monetary, social, political and death tolls of the decade-long war in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq that followed the attacks of September 11 2011. The costs of warfare in these countries far outstrip the costs incurred by the attacks on September 11. I encourage you to read their entire report, available at CostsOfWar.org. The following are a few of their findings:
By the Eisenhower Study Group’s most conservative tally, 225000 people have died as a result of the Terror Wars fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The group considers its estimate of approximately 257,000 deaths to be more likely, and breaks down into these categories:
Over half a million injury claims by Terror War veterans in the United States had been filed by the fall of 2010. 40,000 Pakistanis have been injured in the last six years of war. Civilian injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone counted. 7.8 million people have been forced to leave their homes or even leave their countries as a consequence of the destruction of these wars.
Even if you don’t count $5.3 billion in promised reconstruction aid for Afghanistan, state and local spending on health care, benefits and services for veterans, state and local “Homeland Security” spending, reimbursements or other compensations to foreign governments for acting as allies in the Terror Wars, requirements for natural disaster preparedness and reaction that would otherwise have been taken care of by the National Guard, hidden “condolence” monies paid to the families of dead civilians, the opportunity cost of money spent on destruction rather than on infrastructure and human needs, or the expenditure of classified sums by the Defense Department and various intelligence agencies, the cost of the wars in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan — to the United States alone — tallies up to somewhere between $3.2 and $4.0 trillion so far. If you stacked up 4 trillion dollar bills, the pile would reach 271,465 miles high. That’s enough to reach the moon and go tens of thousands of miles beyond.
Then there are the less tangible costs. Civil liberties have been eroded. Federal contracts are now dominated by military corporations. 4.6 billion gallons of fuel goes down the drain every year. Deforestation has accelerated. From mammals to birds and down the food chain, there’s simply less life. The land and the soil are poisoned. All this, and The Economist (hardly a radical publishing group) continues to rank Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan among the countries that are democratic failures.
These tallies are incomplete because the Terror Wars continue. Their cost will continue to rise.