US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria have cost American taxpayers an estimated $5.6 trillion since 2001, according to a study conducted by the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University.
This shocking figure, which more than triples the Pentagon’s estimates, suggests that every US taxpayer is responsible for about $24,000 in war costs.
“War costs are more than what we spend in any one year on what’s called the pointy end of the spear,” explains lead study author Neta Crawford. “There are all these other costs behind the spear, and there are consequences of using it, that we need to include.” Crawford has criticized the Pentagon for not including the “real costs” of war in its calculations.
The analysis comes from the “Costs of War” project, whose team of 35 scholars, physicians, human rights activists, and legal experts research and discuss the ongoing costs of war.
“The American public should know what the true costs of these choices are and what lost opportunities they represent,” argues the project’s co-director, Catherine Lutz. “Given that the current administration has announced more years of war in Afghanistan and elsewhere, this total will only grow.”
The team's analysis takes into account several factors not considered by the Pentagon, such as long-term medical care for veterans and costs incurred by the State Department, and has the potential to influence lawmakers as they debate budgets, tax cuts, and wartime policies.
“I think it is very important because it describes and quantifies the costs beyond just the narrow bounds of the Department of Defense,” says Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).
As Reed points out, war typically involves borrowing money from other countries.
“According to the study, the accumulated interest expenses on the future cost of borrowing money to pay the wars could add an additional $8 trillion to the national debt over the next several decades,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
As the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC has pointed out, one of the biggest financial unknowns in terms of war cost is the future healthcare expense for aging and future veterans: “The VA budget is growing rapidly, not only because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but to care for aging Vietnam vets too.”
The analysis does not take into account money the US spends on counter-terrorism operations in dozens of countries or on its activities in Europe and Africa.
Editor's note: Kind of makes you wish we were being more successful at this. Unfortunately. Obama gave away some serious advantages and allowed ISIS to arise and takeover area we had already conquered.