The United States is projected to spend a total of nearly $6 trillion on war since the September 11 attacks in 2001, according to a study by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.
The data shows that the wars will cost far more than the Defense Department estimated when taking into account the costs of related spending, veteran care, and interest payments on the debt accrued while funding the war efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
“We were told to expect wars that would be quick, cheap, effective and beneficial to the U.S. interest,” Neta Crawford, who authored the study, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Because we finance these wars on a credit card, the costs of the wars themselves pose a national security challenge.”
According to the data, all war-related spending through the end of next fiscal year totals $4.9 trillion. The US is projected to spend another $1 trillion to treat veterans from the wars through 2059, bringing the total to nearly $6 trillion.
But with the war efforts continuing, the bill is expected to grow even further. According to the study, the costs will total more than $6.7 trillion if the war efforts based on the Pentagon's estimates continue through 2023.
"It’s important for the American people to understand the true costs of war, both the moral and monetary costs," Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, who is the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. "Our nation continues to finance wars and military operations through borrowing, rather than asking people to contribute to the national defense directly, and the result is a serious fiscal drag that we’re not really accounting for or factoring into deliberations about fiscal policy or military policy.”
Pentagon estimates cost way lower:
The Pentagon claimed in an August report to Congress that the wars since 9/11 have cost $1.5 trillion. According to the study, though, the Pentagon and State Department will have spent $1.8 trillion on Iraq and Afghanistan alone, not counting the $54 billion spent in Syria, $10 billion spent in Pakistan, and more than $150 billion on various war funds in Africa and Europe.
Deadly wars get deadlier:
According to the study, "between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan." This toll "does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011."
According to the report, the new "is a more than 110,000 increase over the last count, issued just two years ago in August 2016".
"Though the war on terror is often overlooked by the American public, press and lawmakers, the increased body count signals that, far from diminishing, this war remains intense," the researchers said.