Saturday October 16, 2021

US War on Terror cost $21 tr to Washington

September 04, 2021
US War on Terror cost $21 tr to Washington

ISLAMABAD: Over the span of 20 years, the War on Terror has expanded to dozens of countries, claimed 900,000 lives, and has cost $21 trillion to US, the Washington DC based think tank- Institute for Policy Studies- latest report reveals.

The report- State of Insecurity: The cost of militarisation since 9/11- says that 20 years after 9/11, the response has contributed to thoroughly militarised foreign and domestic policies at a cost of $21 trillion.

Of the $21 trillion the US has spent on foreign and domestic militarisation since 9/11, $16 trillion went to the military (including $7.2 trillion for military contractors), $3 trillion to veterans’ programs, $949 billion to Homeland Security, and $732 billion to federal law enforcement.

It added that for far less than it spent on militarisation since 9/11, the US could reinvest to meet critical challenges that have gone neglected for the last 20 years. The report says that $4.5 trillion could fully decarbonise the US electric grid, $2.3 trillion could create 5 million $15 per hour jobs with benefits and cost-of-living adjustments for 10 years $1.7 trillion could erase student debt, $449 billion could continue the extended Child Tax Credit for another 10 years, $200 billion could guarantee free preschool for every 3-and-4-year old for 10 years, and raise teacher pay and $25 billion could provide COVID vaccines for the population of low-income countries.

“The devastating fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in August of 2021 raises deep questions about our military investments to date. How did it go so wrong, so quickly, after so long? Which of our investments have improved life for people in the US or anywhere else, and which have led to loss of life and a more dangerous world? Most importantly, looking forward to the next 20 years, what kind of investments are most likely to protect life, reduce conflict, and raise living standards, both in the US and elsewhere?,” reads the report.

It says, 20 years ago, we were promised a vision of the War on Terror that did not come to pass: that Afghanistan would not become a quagmire, or that the Iraq war would be over in “five weeks or five days or five months” and cost a mere $60 billion. As the country went to war and refocused domestic security spending on terrorism, few had any inkling of the far-reaching ramifications for the military, veterans, immigration, or domestic law enforcement.

The costs of the global War on Terror have been staggering: about 900,000 lives lost to violence, many thousands more gone due to the loss of critical infrastructure like hospitals, and 37 million people displaced, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project.

In 2019, pro-government airstrikes (including US airstrikes) killed the highest number of Afghan civilians in any year since the start of the war. In Afghanistan alone, 47,000 civilians have been killed since the start of the War on Terror.

According to the report, beyond the forever wars, the US military has more than 750 outposts in around 80 countries, with about 220,000 US troops stationed permanently abroad as of June 2021. Military operations extend well beyond the confines of the War on Terror, and in some cases, actions billed as military exercises have been fronts for real military operations.

“From 2018 to 2020, the US conducted counterterror operations in 85 countries, including combat operations in 12 countries, and air and drone strikes in seven. This represents more than half the countries on earth. Even so, the War on Terror targets certain regions and some kinds of terrorists and terrorism more than others, notably in places where local residents were predominantly black or brown people. Even as the US continues to engage in the War on Terror, these activities only occasionally become widely known in the US.”

Referring to military contracts, the report said that in a typical year, around half of the DoD (US Deptt of Defense) budget goes to contractors. Over the last 20 years, the contractors took in more than $7.2 trillion in DoD funds, compared to only $4.7 trillion in the 20 years before that, which included the peak years of the Cold War and nuclear arms race. In FY 2020, with a total DoD budget of $753 billion, $422 billion went to military contractors.”

The report says, the War on Terror has been a huge profit generator for these companies. Stocks in the top five defense companies that were worth $10,000 when the War on Terror began are worth nearly $100,000 today, versus only $61,000 for the overall stock market.