The cost of wars after 9/11: 6.4 trillion dollars – 3.4 million dead

A comment by Hermann Ploppa

On November 13 of this year a great moment of truth took place in the middle of the Washington establishment. The democratic senator Jack Reed from the smallest US state Rhode Islands had invited two experts from Brown University from his hometown Providence. Neta Crawford and Catherine Lutz are co-directors of the Cost of War project at Brown University. They confronted the Washington establishment with the naked fact that since 11 September 2001 an estimated 801,000 people have been killed in the so-called War on Terror. (1)

The authors made it clear that only those war victims were counted who were directly involved in acts of war. The number of war deaths would be many times higher if those people were added who did not receive adequate medical care due to the destruction of the civilian infrastructure caused by the war. Neta Crawford estimates the cost of the wars waged after September 11, 2001 at a total of 6.4 trillion dollars. (2)

5.4 trillion dollars were spent on military operations in a total of no less than 80 countries, countries that have been pulled into the US wars since 2001. A further trillion will have to be raised by 2059 to supply US war veterans. The authors attach importance to the statement that these wars were not imposed on the USA, but were instigated arbitrarily (“by choice”).

And those responsible for these wars, which are as superfluous as they are literally disastrous, are extraordinarily clever at concealing these costs from the eyes of the population. For the 2018 fiscal year, the US Department of Defense had told the people outside the country that the tax burden of the foreign wars against terror worldwide was exactly $7,623 for every US citizen in that year. That’s already blatant enough. Every year for wars in countries whose exact location hardly any US citizen can name, not to mention the exact reasons why US soldiers have to act highly armed there to spend as much as for a used middle class car, is already difficult enough to mediate. This is one of the reasons why the distance of citizens to their federal government in Washington is continuously increasing. But, according to Crawford, the Pentagon only names the direct costs for the Overseas Contingency Operations abroad. But the real costs, as Crawford meticulously proves, are distributed among all sorts of ministries, in particular: The Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and, not to forget, the Department of Veterans, which is very important in the USA. If you add all this up, one brand-new mid-range car for every US citizen comes together every year.

Since 11 September 2001, the war between the USA and the rest of the world has taken on a radically new quality. The earlier US wars were financed by tax increases and by the issue of war bonds. Tax increases are extremely unpopular among US citizens. This is one of the main reasons for the rise of right-wing populist movements such as the Tea Party, whose supporters would rather abolish the state altogether and shoot the Washington establishment directly on the moon. Perhaps George Bush II. would have failed very quickly if he had imposed new tax burdens on US citizens for the senseless and ruinous wars in the wide world. That is why Bush and his prompters Rumsfeld and Cheney resorted to the means of extreme national debt. One can say many not so nice things about Bush’s predecessor Bill Clinton. But he had not only freed the US budget from debt. When he handed over the office to Bush, the state budget showed a fat plus. The artificial and uninhibited national debt has an irresistible charm for the financial scene. Because now the USA together with its citizens has sunk into the bone-deep interest slavery of the private banks. And it’s worth it. As Crawford explains, the debt service of the US war machine alone has contributed 925 billion dollars to the total costs of the Global War on Terror since 2001. And, the author continues, even if the USA were to withdraw from the global War on Terror overnight, it would not be able to get out of the number for generations in terms of costs. The debt service for interest and compound interest will be maintained. And also the aftercare for the mutilated and severely traumatized US soldiers – until their death.

This brings us to the physical and psychological costs of the GWOT, as the Americans call the Global War on Terror. And on the infrastructural consequences. Brown University in Providence, by the way one of the oldest and most venerable universities in the USA, estimates the death toll at 801,000 people, only in direct combat. And they estimate, let’s repeat, that the number of deaths caused by infrastructure destruction is “much higher”. This has also arrived in Washington’s political orbit. On that 13th November of unvarnished truths, Neta Crawford also spoke in the afternoon before the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of congressmen from both houses of the Democratic Party, whose members defame the Pentagon propaganda tool Wikipedia as “anti-Semites”. (3) The professor from Rhode Island presented a paper on the environmental destruction caused by the GWOT. (4)

Progressive Congressmen have long sought to bring social justice, peace policy and the consideration of minorities into politics. The online newspaper The Hill also belongs to the environment of the thoughtful. The Hill alludes to Capitol Hill, the hill on which the Washington Congress building Capitol stands. In particular, they want to influence the members of parliament and their staff. And so a remarkable, by American standards unusually sensitive article about the suffering of the worldwide victims of the GWOT appeared in The Hill on the same November 13: “Reckoning with the costs of war: It’s time to take responsibility”. (5)

This article reports in detail on the gigantic consequences of the war on the population of the USA: “Across the United States, millions have been affected — the collective damage is immeasurable.”. A fifth of all war veterans from the post-9/11 wars suffer from post-traumatic disorders – expressed in figures: 400,000 pitiable US citizens. In addition, the suicide rate among veterans has increased enormously. Today, more GIs die through suicide than through combat. War returnees are more likely to use violence against their family members than other fellow citizens, and they are more likely to commit crimes and many of them end up homeless on the street. (6)

But the disturbances among the people in the countries ruined by the monster GWOT are even greater. Anna Badkhen reports on this very vividly and empathetically in the second central organ of the Council on Foreign Relations (7), the Foreign Politics (8), as early as 2012. Badhken reports on an investigation report on behalf of the US government. According to the report, 42% of Afghans had already become conspicuous with post-traumatic disturbance in 2002, i.e. when the USA had just “started” its War on Terror. And more than two-thirds of Afghans suffered from severe depression. Between 30% and 70% of the people in countries where the Military Industrial Complex is fighting its War on Terror “bear the scars of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression”. Since 9/11, a trend has radicalized that was already visible before. In the First World War the war was still fought in special zones, e.g. in the trenches of northern France. The civilian population was largely spared from fighting. In the Second World War the civilian population was already much more strongly involved in the fights by bombardments. “But after nearly 50 years of the Cold War and more than 10 years of the war on terror, the way we wage war is more personal. Terrorism battlefields recognize no front lines. Vicious sectarian rampages pit neighbor against neighbor. Victims of genocidal campaigns often know their attackers by name. In the most current conflicts, at least nine out of 10 war casualties are believed to be civilians.” There is also no “Marshall Plan” according to which the cities and villages and fields destroyed could be rebuilt. For the mentally ruined Afghans, for example, there were just 200 more beds in psychiatric institutions in 2012.

And the newspaper The Hill tells the congressman: not only that one in five Iraqis suffers from severe mental disorders. The situation is even worse for young people, 56% of them suffering from post-traumatic disorders. And 12.5 million people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen are on the run from the war slaughter in their homeland. The Hill: “Don’t we have a responsibility to wrestle with our individual and collective responsibility for the destruction our government has inflicted? Our tax dollars and implied consent have made these wars possible. While the United States is obviously not the only actor responsible for the damage done in the post-2001 wars, U.S. leaders bear the bulk of responsibility for launching catastrophic wars that were never inevitable, that were wars of choice.”

Urgently overdue insights from the United States of America. It is doubtful, as always, whether these voices of reason have any chance of turning the tide in Washington before the great implosion occurs.

Author Hermann Ploppa has just published his latest book “Der Griff nach Eurasien – Die Hintergründe des Ewigen Krieges gegen Russland” which can be ordered directly from the author:




Thanks to the author for the right to publish.


Picture hint: Sean Locke Photography / Shutterstock


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