Numbers out last week attest to the humongous cost in terms of money and lives in the war on terror that was initiated by the United States since 11 September, 2001.

In its annual ‘Costs of War’ report, the US-based Ivy League Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs said, “The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019.”

The report also estimated that “between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the post-9/11 wars initiated by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.” This toll “does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011”, or the deaths that continue to result from the military intervention in Libya by the NATO  military alliance led by the US.

The combined human cost for the US throughout its actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan was 6,951 troops, 21 civilians and 7,820 contractors.

The report added: “While we often know how many US soldiers die, most other numbers are to a degree uncertain. Indeed, we may never know the total direct death toll in these wars. For example, tens of thousands of civilians may have died in retaking Mosul and other cities from ISIS but their bodies have likely not been recovered.”

The human tally in the report also does not include the ‘indirect deaths’, such as consequences for people’s health in war zones, including because of loss of access to food, water, health facilities, electricity or other infrastructure.

The report concluded by noting: “In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable. The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities.”

In February of this year, in a rare prescient remark, US President Donald Trump said “We have spent $7 trillion in the Middle East,” before adding, “what a mistake” it was.


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