Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Costs of War



“Afghan refugee girls sit behind a wooden cart in a slum in Pakistan. (AP  Photo/Muhammed Muheisen

Afghan refugee girls sit behind a wooden cart in a slum in Pakistan. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Hundreds of thousands of people on all sides of the wars have died directly of the violence – the vast majority of them civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Far more have died of the reverberating effects of the wars, which have destroyed infrastructure and access to basic needs, and many suffer from war injuries or illnesses. Millions of people living in the war zones have been displaced from their homes, and many now live in grossly inadequate conditions. More


Cost iceberg

The United States has spent and obligated trillions of dollars to fight the post-9/11 wars. The U.S. federal price tag for these wars includes far more than direct congressional war appropriations. It also includes dollars spent and obligated for U.S. veterans’ health care and disability, increases to the Pentagon’s “base budget” directly attributable to the wars, homeland security spending, foreign aid and reconstruction costs, and interest on war borrowing. More

Social & Political

In the United States and in the conflict zones, the wars have eroded civil liberties and human rights. Terror suspects have been detained indefinitely without fair trial, tortured, and mistreated by U.S. officials and partner governments. The wars have also significantly damaged the natural environment and contributed to climate change. The U.S. has expanded the post-9/11 wars across the globe, bolstering authoritarianism and government violence in Africa and elsewhere. More