The Shocking Costs of War in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan
Afghanistan and Pakistan have been engaged in their wars for nearly 15 years. In Iraq the war is still ongoing after the US-led invasion of 2003.
Human lives are at the center of what has been lost. With many, many more injured. Most of these casualties are tragically innocent civilians.
To add to this, there are non combat related deaths, caused by the war – whether it be because hospitals were bombed and care couldn’t be provided, or because people were cut off from supplies.
Here is an overview:
- 370,000 people in total have died due to direct war violence.
- Many more have died from the malnutrition, damaged infrastructure and environmental degradation associated with wars.
- 210,000 of these deaths were civilians.
- At least 6,800 deaths were US soldiers, but the total number of US service members returning injured or ill is not known.
- There were several US contracted agencies with private security forces that have not been reported as required by law that have also been caught in the conflict. It is estimated that at least 6,900 of these personnel have died.
- Several millions from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are now living as war refugees, largely in entirely inadequate conditions.
- Yemen has been the target of an estimated 76 drone strikes, making the US arguably at war with them also.
- The wars have brought with them erosions of human rights and civil liberties both in the warzones and at home.
- Human and economic costs of these wars will continue for decades, such as the financial costs of US veteran’s care which is estimated to peak mid-century.
- The US government has already spent over $170 billion on reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, with most of this money spent arming the security forces in these countries. Much of the money allocated to humanitarian relief has been lost to fraud, waste and abuse.
- The cost for the Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan wars totals a staggering $4.4 trillion, which does not include the interest payments on borrowing this money that will add an estimated $8 trillion through 2054.
- Carry-over effects on the US economy have also been significant including job losses and interest rate increases.
- Despite the purported intention of bringing democracy and political freedom to these countries, they continue to rank extremely low in global studies.
- Women in Iraq and Afghanistan are not permitted political power and experience both high rates of unemployment and widowhood.
- Alternatives to war were barely discussed or considered in the aftermath of 9/11.
See below a table tallying the Human Costs: