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Cost of war

Since 9/11, the US has spent $5.6 trillion on wars. And it's on track to spend another trillion by 2023.


Updated November 15, 2018 04:29 PM EST

Editor's note: This story was originally published July 14, 2017. We are republishing it below because the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University published its annual report on the cost of war Wednesday, and according to its analysis, the U.S. is on track to spend an additional $808 billion on the military and defense budget, bringing the total to nearly $7 trillion by 2023.

WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — According to a new study, by the end of 2018, the United States will have spent $5.6 trillion on war since 9/11.

The Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Center says the average American taxpayer has spent more than $23,386 on wars since 2001.

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The Costs of War project launched in 2011 to document the costs of the post-9/11 wars. Its latest report takes into account not only D.O.D. spending, but also the departments of state, veterans affairs and homeland security as well as the cost of interest paid to date on money the U.S. has borrowed for war funding.

Some of the Costs of War Project’s most noteworthy findings:

  • 200,000 civilians have been killed in direct violence by all parties to these conflicts.
  • More than 6,800 U.S. soldiers have died in the wars.
  • 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 U.S. veteran's care, not peaking until mid-century.
  • U.S. government funding of reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan has totaled over $170 billion. Most funds have gone toward 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.
  • Both Iraq and Afghanistan continue to rank extremely low in global studies of political freedom.

“The U.S. wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the increased spending on homeland security and the departments of defense, state and veterans affairs since the 9/11 attacks have cost more than $4.3 trillion in current dollars through fiscal year 2017,” says Neta Crawford, Costs of War co-director and a professor of political science at Boston University. “Adding likely costs for fiscal year 2018 and estimated future obligations for veteran's care, the costs of war total more than $5.6 trillion.”

While the Costs of War project incorporates as much data as possible in its calculations, Crawford notes in the report that there are still billions of dollars not accounted for in the estimated cost.

"The report’s total does not include the substantial costs of war to state and local governments — most significantly, the costs of caring for veterans — or the millions of dollars in excess military equipment the U.S. donates to countries in and near the war zones.”

Costs of War: the Human Toll of the Post-9/11 Wars

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