Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Costs of War

Social & Political Costs

The United States-led War on Terror has led to encroachments on basic social and political rights in the US and the war zones.

In the US, new legislation and intelligence practices have eroded Americans’ constitutional freedoms from surveillance and their rights to privacy. Law enforcement officials’ profiling of people of Arab and South Asian descent remains common.

At home, in the war zones, and in many other countries, US and allied officials continue to indefinitely detain terror suspects without fair trial or access to legal counsel. Torture and mistreatment in custody remain major problems.

In Afghanistan, the return to power of discredited warlords, the marginalization of other groups, and the concentration of power in the presidency have contributed to a government that does not represent the interests of large numbers of Afghans. Afghan women remain cut out of political decisions, and many suffer violations of basic human rights such as health care, food, housing, and security.

The Iraqi government lacks political and economic inclusion, does not provide basic security for its citizens, and has regressed towards authoritarianism in recent years. The government’s failure to provide basic security for its citizens and to protect rule of law has contributed to widespread gender violence against Iraqi women, though the international community has been silent about these issues.

(Page updated as of April 2015)