Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Costs of War

Now that ten long years has passed since war operations began in Iraq and eleven and a half years have passed since war operations began in Afghanistan, it's time to examine how much the non-domestic war on terrorism has cost, both in dollars and in lives.

Let's open by looking at the troop buildup and withdrawal in graph form:

Here are some statistics from the Costs of War website noting that the organization is a non-profit, non-political entity:

1.) Number of Deaths Among Uniformed Soldiers and Local Military and Police:

Iraq - Deceased U.S. soldiers (to February 14, 2013) - 4488
Afghanistan - Deceased U.S. soldiers (same date) - 2168

Iraq - Deceased Non-U.S. soldiers - 318
Afghanistan - Deceased Non-U.S. soldiers - 1080

Iraq - Deceased Local Military and Police - 10,819
Afghanistan - Deceased Local Military and Police - 10,665

2.) Number of Wounded Uniformed Soldiers:

Iraq - WIA U.S. uniformed soldiers - 32,221
Afghanistan - U.S. uniformed soldiers - 18,225

Iraq - WIA Non-U.S. soldiers and Local Military - 34,501
Afghanistan - WIA Non-U.S. soldiers and Local Military - 40,749

The numbers of wounded as quoted above are but the tip of the iceberg.  In total, the United States Veterans Administration has already approved 675,000 disability claims from the veterans of the two wars.  A leading veteran's advocate has stated that "the signature wounds from the wars will be traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, amputations and spinal cord injuries.".  Since 2001, the United States has already spent $63 billion on medical and disability care for the those among  1.56 million service men and women that have returned home with combat related issues.

3.) Number of Deaths Among Civilians:

Iraq - Deceased civilians - between 111,827 and 122,303
Afghanistan - Deceased civilians - between 17,000 and 19,000
Pakistan - Deceased civilians - between 18,000 and 49,000

Understandably, confirming civilian deaths is far more difficult than confirming deaths of soldiers, thus, the range of deaths for the civilian population.  According to Iraqi Body Count, here is a graphic showing the time distribution of civilian deaths since the beginning of the war:

Here is a summary chart showing the total number of dead in all three nations involved in the War on Terror:

There are other ways of suffering in wartime.  Here is a chart that shows the massive number of refugees in each of the three nations involved:

4.) The Past, Present and Future Financial Costs of the War:

According to the Bush II Administration, the war was estimated to cost between $50 and $60 billion.  Here's a chart that shows what it will ultimately cost American taxpayers:

The single largest component is Pentagon spending and estimates suggest that Pentagon budgets grew by $606 billion current dollars over what they would have spent had the war not taken place.  In addition, spending on Homeland Security doubled in real terms between fiscal 2001 (when it was $17.1 billion) and fiscal 2011.  It is important to note that at least $60 billion that was destined for reconstruction with billions of that being wasted.

Keeping in mind that the wars were nearly entirely financed by taking on an additional $1.3 trillion in debt with accompanying additional financing costs of $260 billion in current dollars....thus far.

There definitely is a great cost to war at both the individual and financial levels.  One has to question whether the citizens of any of the nations involved are any better off for all the efforts made. 

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