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, and Iraq. Far more numerous are those who have died as an indirect result of the wars’ destruction of infrastructure and access to basic needs or who have suffered war injuries or illnesses. Millions of people living in the war zones have been displaced from their homes indefinitely, 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 US federal price tag for these wars includes far more than direct congressional war appropriations. It also includes dollars spent and obligated for US 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 US officials and partner governments. The wars have also significantly damaged the natural environment and contributed to climate change. The US has expanded the post-9/11 wars across the globe, bolstering authoritarianism and government violence in Africa and elsewhere. More