New Research from Costs of War Project Finds Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost $6.4 Trillion and 801,000 Lives

New research from the Costs of War project’s “20 Years of War” research series at the Pardee Center and Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University¬†found that the post-9/11 wars have cost $6.4 trillion and as many as 801,000 lives since 2001.

A report estimating the budgetary costs of the post-9/11 wars was written by Costs of War project co-founder Neta C. Crawford, Professor and Chair of the BU Department of Political Science and a Pardee Center Faculty Research Fellow. The $6.4 trillion estimate includes money the U.S. federal government has spent or is obligated to spend, including care for veterans over the next forty years. Because the spending has been largely financed by borrowing, future interest is projected to exceed $8 trillion by the 2050s.

In a second report estimating the death toll of the post-9/11 wars, Crawford and Costs of War project co-founder Catherine Lutz, Thomas J. Watson Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at Brown University, found that between 770,000 and 801,000 have died due to direct violence. The estimate includes U.S. soldiers, allied security forces, civilians, and militants. The authors estimate that several times as many people have died indirectly as a result of the post-9/11 wars and related displacement.

The new reports were presented at a pair of briefings on Capitol Hill last week — one hosted by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and one sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus — featuring Crawford, Lutz, and Heidi Peltier, Research Professor at the BU Department of Political Science and a Pardee Center Faculty Research Fellow. The research was also shared with members of Congress and congressional staffers in a series of private meetings.

The research marks the beginning of the new two-year “20 Years of War” series, an expansion of the decade-long Costs of War project at the Watson Institute which has explored the human, financial, environmental, social, and political costs of the post-9/11 wars. The “20 Years of War” series, directed by Peltier at the Pardee Center in collaboration with the ongoing project at Brown, will produce a new set of analyses to mark the 20th¬†anniversary of the beginning of the post-9/11 wars.