The Lookout

How much will our wars cost? Report says $4 trillion

View photo

.

Afghan National Army tanks: U.S. Navy

A new report out of Brown University estimates that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq--together with the counterinsurgency efforts in Pakistan--will, all told, cost $4 trillion and leave 225,000 dead, both civilians and soldiers.

The group of economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists involved in the project estimated that the cost of caring for the veterans injured in the wars will reach $1 trillion in 30 or 40 years. In estimating the $4 trillion total, they did not take into account the $5.3 billion in reconstruction spending the government has promised Afghanistan, state and local contributions to veteran care, interest payments on war debt, or the costs of Medicare for veterans when they reach 65.

The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, has assessed the federal price tag for the wars at $1.8 trillion through 2021. The report says that is a gross underestimate, predicting that the government has already paid $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion.

More than 6,000 U.S. troops and 2,300 contractors have died since the wars began after Sept. 11. A staggering 550,000 disability claims have been filed with the VA as of 2010. Meanwhile, 137,000 civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq have died in the conflict. (Injuries among U.S. contractors have also not yet been made public, further complicating the calculations of cost.) Nearly 8 million people have been displaced. Check out Reuters' factbox breaking down the costs and casualties here.

Perhaps the most sobering conclusion of the researchers is that it's unclear whether the human and economic costs are worth it. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are now dead, the Taliban is marginalized, and the dangerous terrorist network al-Qaeda has been all but destroyed. But Iraq and Afghanistan are far from being stable democracies. Meanwhile, the half a percentage point a year in GDP growth the war has fueled has been offset by the enormous increase in the national deficit, the report says.

"We decided we needed to do this kind of rigorous assessment of what it cost to make those choices to go to war," study co-director Catherine Lutz told Reuters. "Politicians, we assumed, were not going to do that kind of assessment."

The researchers recommend that the U.S. government be more transparent in disclosing the costs of its wars to taxpayers, by including the costs of future health care for veterans, the cost of paying interest on debt taken out to fund the wars, and estimating how much state and local governments take on in war costs. You can see their recommendations here.

(Afghan National Army tanks: U.S. Navy)

View Comments (3746)

Recommended for You

  • Man with 'Islamic extremist leanings' attacks NY police

    The man who attacked New York City police officers with a hatchet before being shot dead was reported to have Islamic "extremist leanings" police and a monitoring group said. The man, identified in the US media as Zale Thompson, had posted an array of statements on YouTube and Facebook that…

    AFP
  • Six bodies identified after decades in Oklahoma lake

    By Heide Brandes OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Oklahoma authorities have formally identified six people whose bodies were found in a western Oklahoma lake in 2013, bringing a resolution to missing persons mysteries that spanned decades, a spokeswoman for the state medical examiner said Thursday. The…

    Reuters
  • Prosecutors: Michigan girl meant to kill family

    PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A 15-year-old suburban Detroit girl accused of stabbing her younger brother as part of a plot to kill her family so that she could run off with a 23-year-old man was ordered held on $1 million bond Thursday.

    Associated Press
  • After 1st Ebola case in NYC, 3 others quarantined

    NEW YORK (AP) — A doctor who became New York City's first Ebola patient was praised for getting treatment immediately upon showing symptoms, and health officials stressed that the nation's most populous city need not fear his wide-ranging travel in the days before his illness began.

    Associated Press
  • Play

    Woman Stabbed to Death in Front Of Children in Dispute Over Parking Space: Family

    A South Los Angeles man and woman were charged with murder Tuesday in the stabbing death of a Whittier woman during a dispute over a parking space, authorities announced on Thursday. Nerissa Knight reports for the KTLA 5 News at 10 on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.

    KTLA - Los Angeles
  • Ebola cases could spur lawsuits _ with big hurdles

    DALLAS (AP) — In a land of lawsuits, this case seems made for litigation: A doctor appears to miss a red flag, an Ebola diagnosis is delayed, and a patient dies. But this is Texas.

    Associated Press
  • Two dead in murder-suicide at Houston hospital: police say

    HOUSTON (Reuters) - Two health workers died on Wednesday in an apparent murder-suicide at the out-patient pharmacy of a major Houston hospital, police said. A woman who worked at Ben Taub Hospital was shot dead by a male co-worker, who then killed himself. The names of the two have not been…

    Reuters
  • Driver attacked after ice cream truck kills boy

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Neighborhood residents attacked the driver of an ice cream truck after it struck and killed a 7-year-old boy riding a motorized bike in South Los Angeles, authorities said.

    Associated Press
  • Notorious police killer to be freed after 50 years

    London (AFP) - A man convicted of killing three policemen nearly 50 years ago in "the most heinous crime for a generation" is to be released from prison, officials said Thursday.

    AFP
  • World War II airmen fly again in storied B-29

    BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The bomber best known for dropping the atomic bombs on Japan also flew countless other raids. Karnig Thomasian's final mission on a B-29 Superfortress ended in flames when bombs collided and exploded in the air over Burma in 1945.

    Associated Press
  • Japan warns of increased activity at volcano near nuclear plant

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan warned on Friday that a volcano in southern Japan located roughly 64 km (40 miles) from a nuclear plant was showing signs of increased activity that could possibly lead to a small-scale eruption and warned people to stay away from the summit. The warning comes nearly a month…

    Reuters
  • Dancing priests become Internet sensation

    ROME (AP) — A video of a pair of dueling, dancing American priests studying in Rome has gone viral, following in the footsteps of a now-famous Italian nun whose Alicia Keys-esque voice won her a singing contest and a record contract.

    Associated Press
  • Play

    Woman fatally stabbed in fight over swap meet parking space

    A 43-year-old mother of two died after being stabbed in a parking lot dispute at a swap meet in Santa Fe Springs on Friday. Two suspects have been arrested for her murder.

    KABC – Los Angeles
  • Marine murder case reveals US-Philippine sore spot

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — American forces are guarding Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, yet a ring of Filipino troops surrounds them. The seemingly redundant security effort around the suspect in a Philippine murder case reflects Manila's uneasy ties with Washington, its former colonial master.

    Associated Press
  • Mexico mayor accused of ordering attack on missing students

    Mexico on Wednesday ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, his wife and an aide, charging they masterminded last month's attack that left six students dead and 43 missing. Carrying torches and candles, tens of thousands of people marched through Mexico City and other cities to…

    AFP
  • Paintings in national parks spark probe, furor

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A series of colorful, eerie faces painted on rocks in some of the West's most famously picturesque landscapes has sparked an investigation by the National Park Service and a furor online.

    Associated Press
  • Erectile dysfunction treatment

    Erectile dysfunction treatment. Mens clinics of America.

    AdChoicesMens clinics of AmericaSponsored
  • China launches first mission to moon and back

    China launched its first space mission to the moon and back early Friday, authorities said, the latest step forward for Beijing's ambitious programme to one day land a Chinese citizen on the Earth's only natural satellite. The unnamed, unmanned probe will travel to the moon, fly around it and head…

    AFP