Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Costs of War

U.S. Budgetary Costs: $8 Trillion

The vast economic impact of the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere is poorly understood by the U.S. public and policymakers. This paper estimates the budgetary costs of war, including past expenditures and future obligations to care for veterans of these wars.

Human Toll: 906,000 - 937,000 Direct Deaths

The number of people killed directly in the violence of the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere are approximated here. Several times as many civilians have died due to the reverberating effects of these wars. The methods of accounting are described in this paper.

Geographic Reach: Over 85 Countries

From 2018 to 2020, the U.S. government undertook what it labeled “counterterrorism” activities in at least 85 countries, in an outgrowth of President George W. Bush's “Global War on Terror.” This map displays air/drone strikes, on-the-ground combat, “Section 127e” programs, military exercises, and operations to train and/or assist foreign forces.

Human Toll Including Indirect Deaths: 4.5-4.6 Million

The number of people killed indirectly in post-9/11 war zones, including in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, are estimated at 3.6-3.7 million, though the precise figure remains unknown. This brings the estimated total of direct and indirect deaths to 4.5-4.6 million. The methods of accounting and various casual pathways leading to indirect deaths are described in this paper.

Afghanistan before and after 20 years of war (2001-2021)

Examining data before the U.S. war in Afghanistan and after the U.S. withdrawal, this infographic displays indicators of poverty, food insecurity, child malnutrition, women's rights, U.S. spending, and more.

People Displaced: 38 Million

38 million people have been displaced by the post-9/11 wars in Afghanstan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines.