News / USA

Report: Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Cost US Nearly $4 Trillion

Spc. Gavin Fruge, 22, of Crowley, La., left, watches a rebroadcast of President Barack Obama's speech on proposed troop withdrawal with fellow soldiers at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, June 23, 2011 (file photo)
Spc. Gavin Fruge, 22, of Crowley, La., left, watches a rebroadcast of President Barack Obama's speech on proposed troop withdrawal with fellow soldiers at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, June 23, 2011 (file photo)
David Byrd

A new report issued by Brown University says the cost of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - and operations in Pakistan - will cost the country nearly $4 trillion. The report's total is more than three times higher than U.S. President Barack Obama’s estimate in a recent speech.

When Obama recently announced a drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, he said America's wars have cost the country $1 trillion dollars.

But a report by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies estimates the total cost at $3.7 trillion.

The study includes spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as operations in Pakistan. Catherine Lutz is one of the study’s co-authors.

“The reasonable estimate is approximately $4 trillion for the war, up to... today and including some of the future costs that we are obligated to pay for veterans care," said Lutz. "In addition, another $1 trillion in interest payments on the debt, we estimate will be required through 2020.”

Lutz said costs such as long-term care of wounded veterans, and projected war spending from 2012 through 2020, were included in the figures. Report co-author, Boston University Political Science Professor Neta Crawford, said other costs include lost opportunities because money was spent on war materiel.

“So if you think about the annual budget of these wars, let us say it averages $130 billion each year for the last 10 years, then you get more than 900,000 jobs in education that could have been created," said Crawford.

The human costs also are also high. The report says between 224,000 and 258,000 people have died directly from warfare, with 125,000 of them civilians in Iraq.  

Even with the president’s planned drawdown of 33,000 troops, there will still be almost 70,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated cost of $1.2 million each.

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