Almost 7,000 U.S. troops have been killed since the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq began, and about 210,000 civilians in those two countries and Pakistan have lost their lives as a result of the fighting, according to Brown University’s Watson Institute. In addition, nearly 7,000 contractors working for the U.S. and its allies have died. In all, roughly 370,000 people have died as a direct result of the fighting.
The number of dead does not include the maimed, the wounded and the soldiers suffering from the psychological aftermath with post-traumatic stress disorder.
And the dollar cost is staggering.
In a new update on the devastating economic cost, the Watson Institute’s Costs of War Project says the U.S. has spent or is on the hook for $4.8 trillion and could wind up paying out almost $8 trillion when the final accounting is done.
The $4.8 trillion includes “direct congressional war appropriations; war-related increases to the Pentagon base budget; veterans care and disability; increases in the homeland security budget; interest payments on direct war borrowing; foreign assistance spending; and estimated future obligations for veterans’ care.
“This total omits many other expenses, such as the macroeconomic costs to the US economy; the opportunity costs of not investing war dollars in alternative sectors; future interest on war borrowing; and local government and private war costs,” the institute says.
Because the wars have been funded “almost entirely by borrowing,” the institute says, America’s budget deficit and national debt have increased, which in turn pushes up consumer interest rates.
“Unless the U.S. immediately repays the money borrowed for war, there will also be future interest payments,” the institute says. “We estimate that interest payments could total over $7.9 trillion by 2053.”