Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost Nearly $5 Trillion (and Counting): Report

afghanistan_soldiersBy Nadia Prupis

The U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost taxpayers nearly $5 trillion and counting, according to a new report released to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the attacks.

Dr. Neta Crawford, professor of political science at Brown University, released the figures in an independent analysis (pdf) of U.S. Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and Veteran Affairs spending, as well as their base and projected future spending. Crawford is also a director at Brown’s Costs of War Project, which works to draw attention to the human, economic, and political toll of the military response to 9/11.

In total, the wars already boast a price tag of $4.79 trillion, she found. And the cost is still climbing.

Crawford’s estimate includes budget requests for the 2017 operations in Afghanistan—which are poised to continue despite President Barack Obama’s vow to withdraw troops from the country by then—as well as in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon requested $66 billion for those fights just for that year.

However, even if the U.S. stopped spending on war at the end of this fiscal year, the interest costs, such as debt for borrowed funds, would continue to rise. Post-9/11 military spending was financed almost entirely by borrowing, which in turn has driven debt and interest rates, the project has previously noted.

Separate reporting late last month by the U.K.-based watchdog Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) found that the Pentagon could only account for 48 percent of small arms shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11—meaning more than half of the approximately 700,000 guns it sent overseas in the past 15 years are missing.

What’s more, a recent Inspector General audit report found a “jaw-dropping” $6.5 trillion could not be accounted for in Defense spending.

The results of Crawford’s report, released last week, follow previous estimates by prominent economists like Nobel Prize-winning Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes, whose 2008 book The Three Trillion Dollar War made similar claims.

Crawford’s report continues:

Interest costs for overseas contingency operations spending alone are projected to add more than $1 trillion dollars to the national debt by 2023. By 2053, interest costs will be at least $7.9 trillion unless the U.S. changes the way it pays for the war.

And, Crawford notes, that’s a conservative estimate.

“No set of numbers can convey the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how they have spilled into the neighboring states of Syria and Pakistan, and come home to the U.S. and its allies in the form of wounded veterans and contractors,” the report states. “Yet, the expenditures noted on government ledgers are necessary to apprehend, even as they are so large as to be almost incomprehensible.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Nadia Prupis writes for, where this article first appeared.

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15 Comments on "Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost Nearly $5 Trillion (and Counting): Report"

  1. I’m sure the shadow government made that amount and more on the drugs they run from mexico, Afghanistan, and from southeast Asia. Remember to always buy American, buy CIA/NSA brand heroine.

  2. It was to simply keep that totally worthless fake currency circulating! Simple as!
    Just want to live long enough to see it die! It’s gonna happened, bet on it in Yen! 🙂

  3. Trillion$ are nothing spent to please Israel firsters. Ever considered what the cost is to rebuild the 7 countries destroyed by these freaks of nature?
    We need a new pearl Harbor event 1999.And Bill Clinton got off scot free

    • Ignorance is bliss when you read only what reinforces what you want to believe. The US gives the “palestinian” occupiers more than they give to Israel. It figures that someone like you wants even another war. If there were another Pearl Harbor would you be on the front lines? LOL – for sure you’re just like those who made these wars that cost us $5 trillion, yet in your self-righteous ignorance you want another one, while at the same time complaining about the costs. Hypocrite. Some people never learn.

  4. Who lost 2 trillion $$ out of the US treasury just before 911? Michael Chertoff, tribe member and part of the Israeli mafia. The money went to Israel just as they pulled off, along with the CIA and the neocons in the DOD, the nuclear option on the WTCs. See: “Israel did 911 all the proof in the world”

    • People, like you, read and listen only to what they want to hear, what reinforces what they want to believe. Think outside the box of misinformation if you want the truth. Obviously, you’ve never looked beyond the surface of lies and propaganda. Puppets and useful idiots are fodder for media and political propaganda. Congratulations – here’s your nightshade.

  5. Enough money to pay off every mortgage, student loan, house the homeless and fee the hungry of the US of A.

  6. Not much of that money went to pay the tiny salaries of our soldiers or for their rehab when they returned from battle. We didn’t use any exceptional nuclear weapons. In Afghanistan and Iraq we used ordinance from inventory we already had! But the weapons makers still made out like the bandits they are. Then there were the tens of billions that somehow magically got “lost” – we don’t know where it is, they lied to us. So it appears that every lousy government thief had their hands in our $5 trillion till. Of course, it could be that obama skimmed off much of it to pay for his illegal immigrants after the House complained about raising funding. Even when the Courts put a temporary stop on obama’s amnesty program and the House temporarily suspended funding, obama found the hundreds of billions of dollars to keep on supporting his muslim friends, our enemies. And then there was Bush spending and “losing” his share of the booty. War is profitable for all of the subhuman parasites that rob us blind. Money buys power, power buys control – no wonder we are controlled like slaves. Most importantly, none of these wars took out the countries responsible for 911, nor are any of them were against any threat to America. War goes on, life does not.

    • “none of these wars took out the countries responsible for 911” You mean like the one you people stole from the Palestinians and named it Israel?…

      • Get a brain. You drink too much kool-aid. The land granted to Israel, the land Israel paid for, and the land that NEVER belonged to your “palestinian” friends EVER belonged to the “palestinians.” Try doing some research if you can face the truth.

    • Before the war started, someone who worked at Raytheon said they were sitting on tons and tons of bombs they made that we’re deteriorating and has to be used soon, or else poor old Raytheon would have to eat a loss.

  7. all part of the perpetual terror/industrial/military/tax/guns for drugs death machine the unholy tribe has in place to keep our young away and dying.
    read : ‘Barry and the Boys’ by Dennis Hopsicker – hint po ‘ol Barry just one of the good guys.

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