Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

New Research to Reveal Total Toll of War on Terror

June 23, 2011

The question is echoed everywhere. With President Obama’s announcement of several more years of military engagement in Afghanistan – already nearly a decade into the War on Terror – what is this costing in lives, in dollars, in opportunities lost? On June 29, The Costs of War research project will release the first comprehensive analysis of the human and economic costs of America’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.

Among the numbers to be released are:
• The first analysis of all American, Coalition, and civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, including contractors
• The dimensions of what has become a major U.S. war in Pakistan
• The extent and impact of refugee flows throughout the war-torn region
• The hundreds of billions of dollars needed to care for veterans of the wars for decades to come
• The macroeconomic effects on US employment and interest rates

This multi-university project, involving more than 20 economists, anthropologists, lawyers, and political scientists, will reveal that the United States is on track to spend far more than anyone has recognized for these wars. The toll is direct and indirect – human and economic – present and future. 

On June 29, these findings will be available as elaborated in 22 in-depth academic papers and summarized graphically online at costsofwar.org, to help inform the current debates in Washington so that America and its leadership reflect the full costs of war in the next steps they take.

Catherine Lutz, the Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at Watson, co-directs the project along with Neta Crawford '85, professor of political science at Boston University.