In a briefing in the Senate Armed Services Committee room  November 13, the Costs of War Project, The Watson  Institute at Brown University, released its latest estimates of how many people have died and how much the US has spent on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and elsewhere since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Senator Jack Reed hosted the briefing and introduced the speakers, praising Costs of War for its comprehensive look at federal expenditures for war.

801,000 Lives

“Human Costs of Post-9/11 Wars,” by Dr. Neta Crawford and Dr. Catherine Lutz, Co-Directors of Costs of War, estimates that 801,000 people have died in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. This is the first time Costs of War has included Syria and Yemen in its count, so the number is significantly higher than previous estimates. The authors note that the chart still does not include indirect deaths from such causes as war-related disease, which would make the total figure of war dead several times higher.

$6.4 Trillion

Dr. Crawford’s paper, “United States Budgetary Costs and Obligations of the Post-9/11 Wars Through FY2020,” summarizes all that is included in the $6.4 trillion figure: Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for the Departments of Defense and State, increases to the military base budget due to war, care for veterans of the war on terrorism, Homeland Security spending on prevention of terrorism, and interest payments on borrowing for these wars. In addition, because the US is morally and contractually obligated to care for post-9/11 war veterans through their lifetimes, the figure includes $1 trillion in obligations to these veterans over the next 40 years.

Climate Change Consequences of War

On the afternoon of November 13, Costs of War held another briefing, this time in the House of Representatives and hosted by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, on the climate-related costs of war. Dr. Crawford presented her updated findings, “Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War,” on the greenhouse gas emissions of the Pentagon since the beginning of the wars in 2001. Dr. Heidi Peltier, a research professor at Boston University, then discussed connections between Costs of War findings and their implications for a potential Green New Deal in her paper “Cut Military Spending, Fund Green Manufacturing.

See Costs of War contributor Dr. David Vine’s Nov. 13 op ed in The Hill, “Reckoning With the Costs of War,” featuring the estimate of the human toll.

Costs of War Briefing on Capitol Hill