The latest group of researchers attempting to quantify the costs of the Afghan War, launched in the autumn of 2001 to apprehend Osama Bin Laden and destroy his retinue of around 400 fighters, have produced figures dismal to behold.
Conducted at Brown University’s Cost of War program, the researchers rounded to “the nearest billion” and found that Afghan War spending between the budgets of the Defense Dep., State Dep., Dep. of Veterans Affairs, expansion of overseas bases, and interest on the debt thusly accrued, the bill for the war is about $2.26 trillion.
This is about $450 billion more than the total burden of student loan debt, and $1 trillion more than the total burden of state-owned debt. However continual expenses, for example as Brown points out, any further debt accruals, will drive the end-costs of the war higher.
In terms of lives, the abrupt shift from the apprehension or elimination of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to the invasion, occupation, and subsequent attempts at cultural, societal, educational, and economical revolution, has created conditions where 241,000 people died.
“In recent years, massive US bombing raids have been killing more civilians than have attacks by the Taliban,” Juan Cole writing for Informed Comment says of this figure. “The US did not kill all those people, but created the conditions in which they were killed”.
Of these quarter-million people, 71,000 were civilian noncombatants. The mainstream media will often report 2,400 U.S. troop casualties, but almost 4,000 hired contractors were also killed. 20,000 American military personnel were wounded, many of whom will now continue to inflate the cost of the war, through lifelong medical care, long after Biden’s proposed withdrawal. 550 International aid workers were also killed.
Biden recently announced that a withdrawal starting in late April will continue gradually until all NATO and allied forces are out, a retreat to conclude no later than September 11th.
The Cost of War program has produced numerous stunning reports that are often completely ignored by those doing the spending, and have included reports on Iraq, and the Global War on Terror refugee crisis.
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