Costs of War Project / Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University – 2011-07-01 01:04:53
The cost of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan are estimated at 225,000 lives and up to $4 trillion in US spending, in a new report by scholars with the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. The group’s “Costs of War” project has released new figures for a range of human and economic costs associated with the US military response to the 9/11 attacks.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (June 29, 2011) — Nearly 10 years after the declaration of the War on Terror, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan have killed at least 225,000 people, including men and women in uniform, contractors, and civilians. The wars will cost Americans between $3.2 and $4 trillion, including medical care and disability for current and future war veterans, according to a new report by the Eisenhower Research Project based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. If the wars continue, they are on track to require at least another $450 billion in Pentagon spending by 2020.
The group’s “Costs of War” project, which involved more than 20 economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists, provides new estimates of the total war cost as well as other direct and indirect human and economic costs of the US military response to the 9/11 attacks. The project is the first comprehensive analysis of all US, coalition, and civilian casualties, including US contractors. It also assesses many of the wars’ hidden costs, such as interest on war-related debt and veterans’ benefits.
Catherine Lutz, the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at Brown University, co-directs the Eisenhower Research Project with Neta Crawford, a 1985 Brown graduate and professor of political science at Boston University.
Among the group’s main findings:
â€¢ The US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan will cost between $3.2 and $4 trillion, including medical care and disability for current and future war veterans. This figure does not include substantial probable future interest on war-related debt.
* More than 31,000 people in uniform and military contractors have died, including the Iraqi and Afghan security forces and other military forces allied with the United States.
* By a very conservative estimate, 137,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by all parties to these conflicts.
â€¢ The wars have created more than 7.8 million refugees among Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis.
* Pentagon bills account for half of the budgetary costs incurred and are a fraction of the full economic cost of the wars.
* Because the war has been financed almost entirely by borrowing, $185 billion in interest has already been paid on war spending, and another $1 trillion could accrue in interest alone through 2020.
* Federal obligations to care for past and future veterans of these wars will likely total between $600-$950 billion. This number is not included in most analyses of the costs of war and will not peak until mid-century.
* “This project’s accounting is important because information is vital for the public’s democratic deliberation on questions of foreign policy,” said Lutz. “Knowing the actual costs of war is essential as the public, Congress and the President weigh the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, and other areas including the deficit, security, public investments, and reconstruction.”
* “There are many costs and consequences of war that cannot be quantified, and the consequences of wars donâ€™t end when the fighting stops,” Crawford said. “The Eisenhower study group has made a start at counting and estimating the costs in blood, treasure, and lost opportunities that are both immediately visible and those which are less visible and likely to grow even when the fighting winds down.”
â€¢ The Eisenhower Research Project is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit, scholarly initiative that derives its purpose from President Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address, in which he warned of the “unwarranted influence” of the military-industrial complex and appealed for an “alert and knowledgeable citizenry” as the only force able to balance the often contrasting demands of security and liberty in the democratic state.
â€¢ The Costs of War has released its findings online, at www.costsofwar.org, to spur public discussion about America at war.
Contact: Deborah Baum (401) 863-2478
Executive Summary: The Costs of War
Eisenhower Study Group
As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
— Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address, January 1961
Ten Years, 225,000 Killed and
More than $3.2 – 4 Trillion Spent and Obligated to Date
Nearly every government that goes to war underestimates its duration, neglects to tally all the costs, and overestimates the political objectives that can be accomplished by the use of brute force. Eisenhower knew this, but we could have earlier found this truth in the record of war from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War to Barbara Tuchman’s account of World War I, The Guns of August.
Over this long nearly ten years, the United States launched two major wars and engaged in the largest reorganization of its government since the Great Depression. A new weapon, the remotely piloted “drone” aircraft was sent to kill militants in Yemen and Pakistan. More than 2.2 million Americans have gone to war and over a million have returned as veterans. Some who have returned have been honored, a small number have been tried for war crimes, and too many have committed suicide. Americans debated the costs of civil liberties lost at home and cringed at revelations of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo.
US generals have switched strategies several times and most recently decided to emphasize “population protection” because they realized that, in the words of the new counterinsurgency manual, “An operation that kills insurgents is counterproductive if collateral damage leads to the recruitment of fifty more insurgents.” 1
But it is the wounded and the dead — the latter very conservatively estimated at 225,000 and the great majority civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — who most urgently require that we not simply turn the page.
It is appropriate as we approach the ten-year mark to recall some of the costs we may have forgotten and to assess what has not been counted, cannot be counted, and the human and economic costs that will come due in the next decades.
What have the wars that the US has undertaken since September 2001 cost in blood and treasure, opportunities lost and possibilities foreclosed? What are the ongoing consequences for the people who fought them, for bystanders, for democracy, human rights, and civil liberties, for the American economy, budget, and the deficit? How has the social and political landscape of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan been altered? What do we know about the likely future costs of the wars?
We found that in terms of those values that could be counted in dollars and in numbers, the costs of war have been generally underestimated or uncounted. One reason for our underestimation of the costs and consequences of these wars, and their likely duration, was the fact that most assessments of the wars only examined one or two elements of the wars.
Additionally, disagreements about who, what and how to count — about how to record the death and injury in war or about whether future interest costs should be included as a war cost — has sometimes been the focus of attention, drawing our eyes away from the big picture and into the intricate and complicated details.
For example, although the US has been funding Pakistan to fight militants since 2001 and fighting there itself, many of the costs of the US war in Pakistan have not been included in tallies of war costs. This is despite the fact that the death and displacement in Pakistan is as or more severe than the war in Afghanistan.
Thus, while we often think of these wars as discrete efforts, and divide the costs into categories, the budgetary costs and human toll are much larger if we total the costs and think not only of costs to the US and its allies, but to the civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Further, we found that although the consequences of wars do not end when the fighting stops and the troops go home, many of the future costs and consequences of these wars have not been counted or have been discounted or dismissed.
Many bills will become due over the next several decades. Many social and political costs — to families and civil liberties — could not be quantified. We also found that the more we looked, the more costs of these wars were to be found, only some of which we had the time and resources to investigate and include.
The human toll — in death, injury and displacement — has been underestimated and in some cases undercounted. There are many difficulties in counting those who are killed and wounded in combat, as discussed in the individual reports by Neta Crawford and Catherine Lutz. Thus, an extremely conservative estimate of the toll in direct war dead and wounded is about 225,000 dead and about 365,000 physically wounded in these wars so far.
More than 6,000 US soldiers and 2,300 US contractors have already been killed. The deaths of US allies, including Iraqi and Afghan security forces and other coalition partners total more than 20,000. The numbers of Afghan and Pakistani military and police killed are probably higher than the totals given here.
Summary Table 1.
The Wars’ Dead, Estimates by Category of Person
The Dead (Conservative) Moderate
US Soldiers (6051) 6051
US Contractors (2300) 2300
Iraqi Security Forces (9922) 9922
Afghan Security Forces (8756) 8756
Pakistan Security Forces (3520) 3520
Other Allied Troops (1192) 1192
Total Allied Security (31,741) 31,741
Afghan Civilians (11,700) 13,900
Iraqi Civilians (125,000) 125,000
Pakistani (35,600) 35,600
Total Civilian and
Undetermined (172,300) 174,500
Afghan Insurgents (10,000) 20,000
Iraq Army (2003) 10,000
Pakistan Insurgents (NA) 20,893
Total Insurgents (20,000) 50,893
Journalists and Media Workers
Afghanistan (18) 19
Iraq (143) 202
Pakistan (7) (34)
Total (168) 255
Afghanistan (172) 172
Iraq (94) 94
Pakistan (NA) NA
Total Humanitarian (266) 266
Grand Total (224,475) (257,655)
There are significant disputes about the toll of those killed and wounded, debates that have tended to deflect attention from what we do know about the cost in lives in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. The toll in civilian lives in Afghanistan and Iraq is at least 137,000 lives to mid 2011. We cannot say with confidence how many of the more than 35,000 Pakistanis who have been killed since 2004 are civilians since the Pakistani security forces have not allowed journalists and humanitarian organizations free access to the conflict areas to investigate the deaths there.
Summary Table 2.
The Wars’ Dead, Estimates by Country
[Includes US Soldiers, US Contractors, Iraq Security Forces, Afghan Security Forces, Other Allied Troops, Afghan Civilians, Iraqi Civilians, Pakistani Civilians. â€“ EAW]
Iraq 151,471 151,530
Afghanistan 33,877 46,078
Pakistan 39,127 60,047
Total 224,475 257,655
Of course the on war injuries and psychological wounds are calculated in different ways, we nevertheless estimate that at least 150,000 US soldiers and contractors have been physically wounded. Further, about 68,000 of America’s military allies including Iraqi and Afghan security forces have been wounded since these wars began. And though the figures for civilian wounded are the least certain and most likely seriously undercounted, we estimate that at least 145,000 civilians have been wounded in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
The psychological wounds — depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress — are enormous as well, and in many cases still emerging. The ability to treat both the physical and psychological wounds has been surpassed by the demand in the US, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The number of people displaced by fighting rises and falls with the intensity of the wars. The numbers displaced in Pakistan are growing. Many of the displaced seek assistance in refugee camps and their numbers are more or less well documented. Many do not live in camps and it is difficult to know the number of displaced with any precision.
Summary Table 4.
The Wars’ Refugees and Displaced Persons
Afghan Civilians 3,315,000
Iraqi Civilians 3,500,000
Pakistani Civilians 1,000,000
Wars cause physical and psychological wounds outside the war zone. The costs at home include the toll on those left behind when active duty armed forces and reservists deploy. The deployments are not only dangerous, but also longer and more frequent than those of previous wars. ZoÃ« Wool shows that the increasing pace of military operations has taken a toll at home on both service members and their families.
Some handle the pressure, but we cannot minimize the potent homefront mix of tense family relationships, physical and emotional pain, and, increasingly, drug and alcohol abuse and other risky behavior that imperils the safety of both service members and their families. The consequence is to make military communities as a whole more precarious, meaning that service members — especially Soldiers and Marines who see the most combat — and civilian family members alike are subject to cycles of anxiety and trauma.
While American soldiers and their families have demonstrated great resilience, the burdens of these wars that have fallen on veterans and their families include higher rates of suicide and mental illness, increased drug and alcohol dependence, higher rates of violence including homicide and child abuse and neglect (the latter both among the parent left behind and by the returning veteran), high risk behaviors that have resulted in elevated numbers of car crashes and drug overdoses, elevated levels of homelessness and divorce, and clinical levels of stress among the children.
There has already been attention to the rising suicide rates among US soldiers and veterans. In 2003, the year of the invasion of Iraq, suicides across the DoD accounted for more deaths than combat. Despite suicide awareness campaigns across the services, across the DoD suicide outnumbered combat deaths again in 2008.
Inside the war zone, battle does not only injure and kill with bombs and bullets. As shown by Omar Dawichi, an Iraqi physician, and Norah Niland, the former director of Human Rights of the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan, the devastation has been greater than most of us in the West know.
Dawichi highlights the enduring displacement in Iraq, showing how it has led to other problems such as unemployment. Although some have returned to their homes, millions have been and remain displaced. Niland’s report highlights the frustrations of the attempt to rebuild a society — by Afghans and international actors — while continuing to destroy it.
The effects of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan ripple through those societies’ basic health and health care infrastructure and cause death indirectly. People suffer and die from lack of access to clean drinking war, medicine, and from diseases that they would not have gotten if their economic and health care infrastructure had not been destroyed or disrupted by war, or if millions had not been internally displaced or become refugees in neighboring countries.
Crawford argues that this indirect war-related death is a significant problem that will continue to kill after the fighting stops. We have not made an estimate for the number killed and harmed by malnutrition and diseases they were exposed to because of the wars. The mental health consequences of war in Afghanistan and Iraq include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The US, other state donors, and international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organizations, the World Food Programme, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Handicap International, Oxfam and others have given resources to help offset the burdens of war, build basic infrastructure such as water treatment plants and support the health care needs of individuals in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
The governments in the war zones have also mobilized to meet these challenges. But there have been and will continue to be enormous health effects for the remainder of these wars and long after they are concluded. The needs are particularly acute for those millions who were or remain displaced whether in refugee or displaced persons camps or who are living with extended family.
Budgeted and Long Term Economic Costs
We calculate that the US federal government has already spent between $2.3 and 2.6 trillion in constant 2011 dollars. This number is greater than the trillion dollars that the President and others say the US has already spent on war since 2001. Our estimate is larger because we include more than the direct Pentagon appropriation for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the larger global war on terror; wars always cost more than what the Pentagon spends for the duration of the combat operation.
But the wars will certainly cost more than has already been spent. Including the amounts that the US is obligated to spend for veterans, and the likely costs of future fighting as well as the social costs that the veterans and their families will pay, we calculate that the wars will cost between $3.7 and 4.4 trillion dollars.
In March of this year, the Congressional Research Service report by Amy Belasco on the costs of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other operations related to the war on terror estimated that the Pentagon allocations for war through the current fiscal year were already $1,208 billion in current dollars. 6 The CRS report also added to war-related spending by the Veterans Administration and the State Department/USAID, and concluded that the wars cumulated costs through FY2011 were $1,283.3 billion dollars.
In 2008, Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes published The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict, totaling many of the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to that point and projecting the costs into future decades. 7
We found that the CRS report of appropriations and estimate of the budgeted costs of the war, which was extremely thorough, nonetheless did not include some important and ultimately expensive costs of the war.
When we total the costs of what the US has spent — the budgeted costs of the war (Congressional war appropriations) and our incurred obligations for Veterans medical and disability — the total is more than the CRS reports and already exceed the Stiglitz and Bilmes estimate of $3 trillion for present and future costs of the wars.
Summary Table 5.
The Budget and Other Economic Costs of War
[Abbreviated version. See full version at the Web link. — EAW]
* Congressional War Appropriations to Pentagon
* Additions to the Pentagon Base Budget
* Interest on Pentagon War Appropriations
* Veterans’ Medical and Disability
* War Related International Assistance (State Department/USAID)
* Additions to Homeland Security
* Spending for the War on Terror
* Projected Obligated Funds for Veterans’ Medical and Disability to 20518
* Social Costs to Veterans and Military Families
* Pentagon War Spending Requested for FY2012
* State Dept./ USAID War Related Spending Requested for FY2012, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan Projected Pentagon War
* Spending FY2013-2015, w/reduction to 45,000 troops
* Projected Pentagon War Spending FY2016-2020
* Additional Interest Payments to 2020
ESTIMATED TOTAL COSTS OF WAR
Conservative Estimate Moderate Estimate
THESE TOTALS DO NOT INCLUDE: Medicare costs for injured veterans after age 65; Expenses for veterans paid for by state and local government budgets; Promised $5.3 billion reconstruction aid for Afghanistan; Additional macroeconomic consequences of war spending including infrastructure and jobs
The largest single component of costs to date is Pentagon war spending. Since 2001, in addition to the $1,313 billion in 2011 constant dollars (using the Pentagon’s own deflators) spent for the wars, $5,238.7 billion in constant dollars was appropriated for ostensibly non-war DOD expenses (also known as the “base” DOD budget) up to the end of 2011.
These costs include already obligated spending Bilmes estimate of $346 to $469 billion in obligated costs for veterans medical and disability for soldiers who have already returned through December 2010 and those who have yet to return and join the VA system. The additional amount includes those who serve after December 2010, and assuming that the war continues for a number of years into the future. 9 (Calculated using Amy Belasco, “The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 2011,” Congressional Research Service, March 201; and K. Alan Kronstadt, “Pakistan-US Relations: A Summary,” Congressional Research Service, 16 May 2011. Congressional Budget Office, “Long-Term Implications of the 2011 Future Years Defense Program,” February 2011, p. 8.)
Winslow Wheeler argues that to the extent that long range Pentagon budget planning just before 9/11 can be deciphered, a pre-war “baseline” trajectory of spending can be established. This report’s calculation of that baseline spending is $4,572 billion for fiscal years 2001-2011. Thus, the DOD “base” budget grew over the discernable pre-war 2001 plan by $667 billion in 2011 dollars ($616 billion in “current” dollars).
This additional spending was politically driven by popular sentiment to “support for the troops” that translated into not just support for war funding but for the broader DOD budget as well. Any efforts to reduce the base budget, or even to hold it steady, would predictably run into arguments like those of Congressman Buck McKeon, (R-CA), current Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, that it is unthinkable to refuse growth to the defense budget while we are “at war.”
The report’s author, Winslow Wheeler, a participant at the staff level in congressional debates on the defense budget for over 30 years, observed that the defense budget grew not just in the war-related accounts but in the “base” budget as well, and that “base” budget growth was an artifact of the wars. The $667 billion in 2011 dollars appropriated to the Defense Department’s base budget since 2001, clearly a result of the political dynamics of the post-9/11 wars, should be counted as an additional, albeit indirect, cost of the wars and should be included in any comprehensive attempt to capture the total cost of the wars.
Other costs to date include the International Assistance budget for what was given to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan since 2001 in foreign aid. The key agencies involved in administering this aid are the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of State, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Of the assistance not already counted as a part of the Pentagon’s budget for the military costs of war, the sum is over $74 billion in inflation-controlled dollars. More than half of the total has gone to Iraq. As Anita Dancs shows in her breakdown of the funding, much of the International Assistance program is for military related purposes. Thus, we, and the CRS, include it as a cost of war.
Federal spending on homeland security increased from $17.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2001 to more than double in real terms by 2011. Homeland security is arguably either an alternative to war, or cost of the mobilization for the war on terror. Anita Dancs only included in her estimate for homeland security spending what she calculated to be the increase in spending for homeland security due to the war on terror. It was impossible to calculate state, local and private spending due to the war on terror.
Linda Bilmes reports that US has already spent $31.3 billion since 2001 in providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans. As of December 2010, 1.25 million service men and women had returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many have been wounded or injured in some way — over 90,000 seriously enough to require medical evacuation from the conflict.
A much larger number suffer from other injuries, ranging from brain injuries to hearing loss. To date, 650,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been treated in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities for a wide range of medical conditions. Nearly 500,000 of these veterans are receiving compensation from the VA for injuries sustained or worsened during their military service.
But America’s commitment to veterans continues after the war ends. The service members who have been deployed to the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts are entitled to receive free or subsidized medical treatment for the rest of their lives. In addition, a significant percentage of them are eligible to receive permanent disability compensation and other benefits for physical and/or mental disabilities stemming from their wartime service. Veterans of the current wars will are also entitled to receive certain educational, housing, training and other benefits funded by government agencies outside of VA.
The future costs of the wars will include the direct budgetary costs of Veterans Medical and Disability payments, which will probably peak in about 40 years and the economic costs to veterans and their families for care not covered by the Veterans Administration or other government agencies including social security. The history of previous wars shows that the cost of caring for war veterans rises for several decades and peaks 30 to 40 years or more after a conflict.
This will be especially true for veterans of the current wars. Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are utilizing VA medical services and applying for disability benefits at much higher rates than in previous wars. Based on current patterns of benefit claims and medical usage, it is estimated that the total present value of such costs for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans over the next 40 years is in the range of $600 billion to $1 trillion. The social costs to veterans and their families — of jobs lost, of lost productive capacity, of time taken to care for mental illness are generally not included in the costs of war. But like Stieglitz and Bilmes, we believe these are real costs.
These wars were financed almost entirely by borrowing adding more than $1.3 trillion dollars to the national debt. Ryan Edwards shows that while the wars did stimulate economic growth to about .9 percent, the increased debt had several macro-economic effects including raising US interest rates by perhaps about .3 percent. The interest on the war debt, from 2001-2011 can be calculated using various assumptions. Our estimate, again conservative because it uses the March 2011 CRS figure for spending on the wars through 2011, is that the financing of the debt attributable to the war has already cost about $177 billion in current dollars (more than $185 billion in constant dollars).
It may seem as if these interest payments are a small amount, compared to the total costs of the war, but they exceed the Department of Defense’s budgeted costs of war in Afghanistan and Iraq for the current fiscal year.
Assuming that the United States continues to spend more on the war and other operations after formal withdrawal, we estimate that by 2020, interest payments alone could exceed $1,000 billion. But of course the precise amount of interest paid on the war debt will depend on both political choices and the economic conditions that prevail over the next decade.
The large increase in military spending and debt has other effects on interest rates, jobs, and investment.
While Heidi Garrett-Peltier shows that US military spending has undoubtedly increased employment in sectors related to the military, that spending in other sectors would have produced many more jobs directly and indirectly.
Similarly, while spending on military infrastructure has grown, overall spending on US public infrastructure and assets has not kept pace with the needs for repair and investment, which some call the “infrastructure deficit,” over the last decade. James Heintz argues that spending on public assets would have increased private productivity. William Hartung underscores the benefits to one major military contractor, Lockheed.
The war has also affected the economies of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. Specifically, Bassam Yousif found a bifurcated Iraqi economy. Enormous oil revenue has been generated since 2003, and GDP per capita has risen. However rebuilding has been slow for several reasons.
Political instability and violence create a climate of uncertainty. Many of the killed professionals, who left the country during the early years of the war have not returned. Thus, unemployment remains high and the benefits of increased oil revenue (mostly due to higher oil prices) have not been spread throughout the population.
Social and Political Costs
Civil liberties have been curtailed in the war on terror. In the US American citizens have been subjected to increased electronic surveillance, while some Muslims and people of South Asian descent have been questioned at airports, fingerprinted or deported for visa problems.Few have been accused of terrorism.
In Afghanistan, former warlords were put into positions of power and many have come to see elections as a shallow form of sham democracy. The United States has detained hundreds of thousands of individuals in Afghanistan and Iraq, and elsewhere in the world. Many of those detained as suspected militants are innocent according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Some in US run prisons have been tortured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and at Guantanamo Bay.
Lisa Graves and Brendan Fischer report that torture and detention remain an important concern. In Iraq, over 100,000 prisoners have passed through the American-run detention system, with many of those detained in the first years of the war processed through the Abu Gharaib prison that had been notorious for abuse under Saddam Hussein. Iraqi security chiefs allege that the existence of, and conditions in, US prisons actually strengthened Al Qaeda, and they blamed the detention system for increased violence in 2010. 10 Meanwhile, prison systems under Iraqi control have been described as “miserable.” Hidden facilities have been identified that do not comply with International Red Cross requests for site visits.
In Afghanistan, many sites, such as the infamous “Salt Pit” located north of Kabul’s business district, are designated by the United States as “host-nation facilities” but are reportedly financed largely by CIA funds. Over 3,000 prisoners were held at Afghanistan’s Bagram Airbase between 2001 and 2010, and many were subjected to torture and mistreatment including beatings, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, shackling to ceilings, and threats with guard dogs. A 2009 report from Marine Major General Douglas Stone found that 2/3 of the Bagram detainees being held at the time were innocent and should be released. 11 Many had been held for several years without trial.
Lawsuits against the US for the violations of human rights and international law associated with its rendition and torture practices have been unsuccessful. 12 Courts have accepted the Obama and Bush Administrations’ invocation of the “state secrets doctrine,” but critics say the judicial created “privilege” should not be allowed to shield the government from embarrassment or exposure of wrongdoing. 13
In part as a result of torture, hundreds of persons have died while being detained and/or interrogated by the United States. At least 108 died in detention in the first four years of the war, and at least 80 more have died in subsequent years. 14
Environmental Damage and Human Health
The natural environments of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have been harmed by war, including radical destruction of forest cover and an increase in carbon emissions.
In addition, the water supply has been contaminated by oil from military vehicles and depleted uranium from ammunition. Along with the degradation of the natural resources in these countries, the animal and bird populations have also been adversely affected.
In peacetime, the Department of Defense has been the countryâ€™s single largest consumer of fuel, using about 4.6 billion gallons of fuel each year.15 War accelerates fuel use. By one estimate, the US military used 1.2 million barrels of oil in Iraq in just one month of 2008. 16
This high rate of fuel use over non-wartime conditions has to do in part with the fact that fuel must be delivered to vehicles in the field by other vehicles, using fuel. One military estimate in 2003 was that two-thirds of the Armyâ€™s fuel consumption occurring in vehicles that were delivering fuel to the battlefield. 17
The military vehicles used in both Iraq and Afghanistan produced many hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and sulfur dioxide in addition to CO2. In addition, the allied bombing campaign of a variety of toxics-releasing sites such as ammunition depots, and the intentional setting of oil fires by Saddam Hussein, during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to air, soil, and water pollution. 18
While destruction of military base garbage in burn pits and toxic dust from military operations have added to air pollution, heavy military vehicles have also disturbed the earth, particularly in Iraq and Kuwait. Combined with drought as a result of deforestation and global climate change, dust has become a major problem exacerbated by the major new movements of military vehicles across the landscape. The US military has focused on the health effects of dust for military personnel serving in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.
Microbiologists have found heavy metals in that dust, including arsenic, lead, cobalt, barium, and aluminum, which can cause respiratory distress, and other health problems.19 Since 2001, there has been a 251 percent rise in the rate of neurological disorders, a 47 percent increase in the rate of respiratory problems, and a 34 percent rise in rates of cardio-vascular disease in military service members that is likely related to this problem. 20 The people of Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait will obviously be exposed to this dust for much longer periods.
The wars have also damaged forests, wetlands and marshlands in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. The degraded environment itself may contribute in turn to further conflict. 21 Water near military bases and battles is often contaminated by the chemical residue of weapons and military operations, such as depleted uranium from shells and benzene and trichloroethylene from air base operations. Perchlorate, a toxic ingredient in rocket propellant, is one of a number of contaminants commonly found in groundwater around munitions storage sites around the world, with research needed on the extent of such pollution in all three war zones.
War-related pollution has clearly already affected the health of Iraqis and Afghans. A household survey in Fallujah, Iraq in early 2010 obtained responses to a questionnaire on cancer, birth defects, and infant mortality. Significantly higher rates of cancer in 2005-2009 compared to rates in Egypt and Jordan were found. The infant mortality rate in Fallujah was 80 deaths per 1000 live births, significantly higher than rates of 20 in Egypt, 17 in Jordan and 10 in Kuwait.
The ratio of male births to female births in the 0-4 age cohort was 860 to 1000 compared to the expected 1050 per 1000. 22
Benefits: Gender Equality, Democracy
The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq both resulted in the eviction of two of the worldâ€™s most repressive regimes, that of Saddam Hussein and of the Taliban. While bringing democracy to the two countries was not the initial rationale for either war (v. eliminating safe haven to terrorists and weapons of mass destruction), democracy promotion and gender equality quickly became a stated goal for each as Shiva Belaghi reports.
We were unable to systematically investigate the question of gender equality in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is clear however that women in Afghanistan and Iraq still face major barriers to full political and social participation. In both countries, women hold a quarter of the seats in their respective national legislatures. Gender inequality parallels the parlous state of democracy in these two countries. Cynthia Enloe found that in particular, individual women and women’s rights organizations faced extreme obstacles.
On a widely used evaluation and ranking of the quality of democracy across the worldâ€™s states, the â€œDemocracy Index,â€ Iraq ranks poorly. Of the 167 countries ranked for 2010, Iraq is classified as a “hybrid regime” (between a “flawed democracy” and an “authoritarian regime”) and comes in at #111.23 According to Transparency International, on a corruption scale from 0 to 10, Iraq ranks 1.5 — the worst in the Middle East — in corruption (defined as “abuse of entrusted power for private gain”) in 2010. 24
Freedom House simply says: “Iraq is not an electoral democracy. Although it has conducted meaningful elections, political participation and decision- making in the country remain seriously impaired by sectarian and insurgent violence, widespread corruption, and the influence of foreign powers.” 25 Freedom House also notes that hundreds of professors were killed and many fled the country during the height of the sectarian fighting, a blow to academic freedom; the judiciary’s independence is threatened by political pressure, and sectarian violence continues to threaten the religious freedom.
On the Democracy Index, Afghanistan is categorized as an authoritarian regime and ranks at 150. Afghanistan ranks 1.4 on the Transparency International corruption scale — the worst in South Asia. Of the 178 countries assessed, the only countries they rank ahead of are Myanmar and Somalia. 26
Norah Niland writes that democracy promotion in Afghanistan was in trouble from the beginning, in the meeting which resulted in the December 2001 Bonn Agreement. The resuscitation of well-known warlords who had just been installed in their former fiefdoms for the primary purpose of helping the US prosecute the Global War on Terror was of great concern to Afghans.
Significantly, Bonn did not include groups concerned about the marginalization of women, human rights advocates, nor representatives of the victims of war and abuse. A significant proportion of the Pashtun community, particularly those associated with the Taliban and rural norms, were not invited to Bonn and were, effectively, relegated to the margins of Afghan politics.
Whereas Afghans do want a say in how they are governed, as indicated in the 70 percent turnout in the 2004 elections, a growing number of citizens are less and less interested in the ineffective democracy that has been on offer. By August 2009, impunity and corruption were more entrenched than before and Karzai’s western backers were still married to the notion that elections, however unconvincing to Afghans, were needed to sustain domestic support in ISAF troop-contributing countries. Elections, and Karzai’s bid to retain his Presidency, were marred by violence and well-documented, systematic fraud. 27
Turnout was low and polling day was the worst single 24-hour period of recorded violent incidents, including the deaths of 57 Afghans, since the overthrow of the Taliban regime. 28 The second round of parliamentary elections in 2010 fared no better in terms of being credible or acceptable to Afghan voters. Little effort had been made to correct either the electoral system or the faults that had marred previous rounds of voting.
The widespread violence and corruption in Afghanistan has, ironically, boosted the image of the Taliban which the Taliban have been able to exploit because of their reputation and approach to criminality. They ended the mayhem associated with their predecessors many of whom are Karzai’s allies who have reverted to their predatory practices.
The study commissioned by US General Stanley McChrystal in 2009 led to the conclusion that “widespread corruption and abuse of power exacerbate the popular crisis of confidence in the government and reinforce a culture of ombudsmen to investigate abuse of power in its own cadres and remove those found guilty.” 29
US disregard for international law in Afghanistan has greatly undermined security and efforts to construct a rule of law system that is just and credible. Many Afghans believe they deserve a “Bonn II” that is free of external interference, embraces the full diversity of Afghan society, and is geared to the identification of genuine power sharing, peace-consolidation, and transparent state-building arrangements.
The United States government immediately framed the 9/11 attacks as an act of war that demanded a military response, and the United States launched a war against Afghanistan. Mathew Evangelista argues that war was not the only or perhaps even the most effective way to confront the threat posed by Al Qaeda.
Although some countries have adopted the military approach to terrorist challenges, usually in the context of ongoing wars of secession or national liberation, others have dealt effectively with terrorism over the years without resort to war.
France, Algeria, Russia, and Canada used military force to confront terrorism. France used military force when it faced anticolonial opposition in Algeria from 1954 until 1962, the year Algeria achieved its independence. French forces destroyed Algerian villages with napalm bombs and tortured women and men suspected of membership in urban terrorist networks. Ironically, the post-independence Algerian government adopted similar tactics in the early 1990s when it confronted an armed Islamist movement that resorted to terrorist methods. Russia fought a devastating and unsuccessful war against the secessionist republic of Chechnya starting in 1994.
It withdrew its forces in defeat in1996, but resumed the war in 1999 in the wake of terrorist bombings of apartment buildings in several Russian cities that killed hundreds of civilians. Continued terrorist violence, including suicide bombings (something previously unknown in Chechnya’s centuries-old secessionist struggle) reinforced Russia’s characterization of the war as an “anti-terrorist operation.”
In fact, as in the Algerian war of independence, much of the terrorist violence constituted a response to rather than a cause of the state’s military violence, including indiscriminate killing of civilians.
In the case of Canada in October 1970 a spate of bombings, kidnappings, and murder by the Front de Liberation du Quebec led Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to invoke the War Measures Act, bring tanks into the streets of Montreal, and arrest nearly 500 suspected terrorists and sympathizers. Although much criticized by peaceful proponents of Quebec’s independence from Canada, the action put an end to the violent secession movement. Henceforth Quebec’s status would be decided by peaceful means: negotiations and popular referenda. 30
Other countries have dealt with terrorist violence without resorting to military means or the war paradigm. Consider these statistics: In the first six months of a certain year, there were 1400 episodes of political violence, including 925 bombings and shootings. Some 22 terrorist “groups organized on a permanent basis” were responsible for half of the incidents, but there were more than a hundred groups whose names were known to the authorities during that same period.
About a thousand militants had gone underground and were involved in what were called “urban guerrilla activities.” An estimated 3000-8000 “part-time guerrillas” lived ordinary legal lives, but participated in some way in the terrorist acts. Sympathizers to those engaged in political violence were estimated to number between two and three hundred thousand. This was not Iraq in 2005, but Italy in 1978. 31
Italy still occasionally suffers isolated terrorist bombings and assassinations, but the broad-based terrorist movement on the 1970s and 1980s was eradicated without resort to war.
One might argue that the threat posed by home-grown terrorists such as Italy’s Brigate Rosse is not comparable to that of al Qaeda, that it may be possible to defeat domestic terrorism with police powers, this argument holds, but fighting foreign terrorists requires military means. In fact, however, the terrorist organizations in Europe and Japan in the 1970s did benefit from international contacts, including training centers and safe havens.
In the 1970s, members of Germany’s Red Army Faction “received training in Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) camps that operated under the auspices of the Syrian government in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.” 32
The communist regime in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) also provided support for West German terrorists: “In the 1970s the GDR appears to have been an important transit country for RAF members as they traveled abroad to elude the investigations of the West German police.” Japan’s Red Army also received considerable support from abroad for its terrorist activities. Under close supervision at home, left-wing radicals moved to North Korea or the Middle East.
From these foreign locations, the JRA staged daring operations, such as the attacks on the Tel-Aviv airport in 1972, a Singapore oil refinery in 1974, on the French embassy in The Hague in 1974, and on the US and Swedish embassies in Kuala Lumpur in 1975. In the 1980s the JRA had about thirty core cadres operating abroad. 33
Both Germany and Japan dealt with their transnational terrorist challenges mainly through police work, including extensive surveillance that many Americans might find threatening to civil liberties. Japan’s efforts, more successful than Germany’s, had the paradoxical effect of driving the terrorists to seek foreign sanctuaries.
Ultimately, the factors that most contributed to the defeat of the terrorist threat to these countries were luck and time, especially time for the international environment to change and become less hospitable to terrorists. Nevertheless, the international changes themselves were the result of efforts to deal with some of the underlying issues that allowed for terrorist movements to make common cause across borders, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Oslo Agreement of 1993 accelerated the JRA’s “withdrawal from the Middle East.” The weakening of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and “a change in Syrian policy in the mid-1990s left the JRA no choice but to withdraw completely. Within a few years, with the exception of seven JRA members believed to be living in Lebanon, all of the senior JRA cadres had been apprehended and were in jail.” 34
The international dimension of Germanyâ€™s antiterrorist policy focused on cooperation with law enforcement agencies in the European Union, whereas Japan “relied on economic aid, its preferred policy instrument, to further its antiterrorist policies.” Japan appears to have rewarded Syria with economic assistance, “presumably as a quid pro quo for Syriaâ€™s restricting the geographic mobility of the JRA.” 35
Activists who turned to violence had often been victims of state violence and repression themselves. As one observer mentioned in regard to the French war in Algeria and the troubles in Northern Ireland, prisons turn out to be “a marvelous recruiting and training centre.” 36 Many other cases support this generalization. Especially when the prison experience includes torture, friends and family members of the victims often seek revenge by engaging in terrorist activities.
How did the urban terrorism of 1970s Europe end? Here the generalization that seems most convincing is that political systems and social and political organizations became more inclusive and more open to the concerns that had earlier found expression only in political violence.
By addressing the main grievances that underlay the violence, the authorities could isolate the relatively small number of terrorists from the much larger population of potential sympathizers. Evangelist argues that the point is not that every terrorist is motivated by a legitimate political grievance that should be addressed.
Rather for terrorism to persist on any meaningful scale it has to have some at least passive support from a broader group of individuals who themselves might not consider engaging in violence. If those individuals find their concerns addressed by the government and society, they are more likely to withhold their support from the terrorists who remain committed to violence and even endorse state efforts to maintain order.37
What We Have Not Assessed
We did not, nor could we, count or assess all the effects of these wars.
We did not include in our tallies of budgets:
ï‚· future State Department/US AID spending on the wars beyond 2012 including $5.3 billion of reconstruction aid promised but not yet delivered to Afghanistan
ï‚· some expenses related to veterans, including the budget for the new GI bill, and the benefits to veterans from state and local governments
ï‚· state and local costs for homeland security that are not reimbursed by the federal government
ï‚· how much all the allies and military partners of the United States spent on the wars and how much those expenditures may have been offset by reimbursement, grants, loans, or other forms of compensation, and, in particular, how much the wars have cost the governments and economies of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan
ï‚· the budgetary and economic effects of the wars on the economies of the regional neighbors of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan (e.g. the extra costs of caring for refugees or the potential stimulating effect of increased demand for goods by refugees)
We did not count or systematically estimate or evaluate the:
ï‚· effectiveness of the wars in providing security or raising risks to the US
ï‚· effects on natural disaster preparedness of having US National Guard troops and equipment abroad
ï‚· effectiveness of the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan of the US, its allies, the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations in promoting economic reconstruction, health, and education. The US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) http://www.sigir.mil/ and the US Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) http://www.sigar.mil/ have issued many reports and testified before Congress.
ï‚· profits, excess profits, and waste of all defense contractors and weapons manufacturers
ï‚· number of “insurgents” killed or how many contractors employed by US allies have been killed or wounded
ï‚· resources devoted by the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, and other nations to ameliorate war related suffering in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan
ï‚· success of the US promise to bring democracy to Iraq (although see Niland in this report on Afghanistan). We have not done a similar assessment for Iraq and Pakistan.
We have not assessed changes in American “standing” in the rest of the world since the wars began. For this, see research done by the Pew Research Center’s “Global Attitudes Project,” http://pewglobal.org/.
Some budgetary items are included in the totals for Pentagon war spending but their portion of the spending is not easy to identify or estimate for various reasons, including concerns about secrecy. Specifically, we were unable to specifically identify:
ï‚· how much of the money within the Pentagon’s budget for these wars for “Commander’s Emergency Response Program funds” in Afghanistan and Iraq was used for condolence (or “solatia”) payments to the survivors of a civilian killed by US operations, or to individuals who have been injured or whose property has been damaged by the war. Those payments totaled about $31 million in Iraq in FY2005 and 2006 and 210,000 in Afghanistan in FY2006.38 We have not identified the additional condolence money that has been paid in Afghanistan and Iraq by the United States Department of State and the Agency for International Development. Although the Pakistani government does provide some assistance, the US does not provide aid to civilian victims of drone strikes in Pakistan.
ï‚· the costs of the CIA managed Predator and Reaper RPV “drone” surveillance and strike program in Pakistan (and Yemen, where strikes have also occurred). This “black” budget item is inside the Pentagon budget and includes the costs of the drones, the operators, fuel, and weapons, and is not publicly known. We cannot say if expenditures for the drone program are entirely contained in the accounting of Pentagon spending for the wars or also partly in the “base” portion of the Pentagon budget. We can say this about the Air Force version of the drone program.
As the New York Times reported in 2009, “Air Force officials acknowledge that more than a third of their unmanned Predator spy planes — which are 27 feet long, powered by a high-performance snowmobile engine, and cost $4.5 million apiece — have crashed, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan.”39
ï‚· the portion of the National Intelligence budget devoted to the wars. The proposal to separate the National Intelligence Program money from the overall Pentagon budget has not been approved by Congress. In February 2011, the Director of National Intelligence released for the first time their annual budget request: $55 billion. “Any and all subsidiary information concerning the National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget, whether the information concerns particular intelligence agencies or particular intelligence programs, will not be disclosed. Beyond the disclosure of the NIP top-line figure, there will be no other disclosures of currently classified budget information because such disclosures could harm national security.”
Finally, we obviously could not quantify the emotional suffering in the US, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq of those who have lost loved ones or their communities.
However one judges the US waging of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, at the very least, we should know what each of those wars has been like. We should know who has been killed, what kinds of wounds have been suffered, and what kinds of economic costs and consequences have been incurred. Those costs have been consistently minimized, misunderstood, or hidden from public view.
While there are those who would argue that the role of the citizenry should be simple assent once the nation is at war, a wide variety of goals — from enhanced democracy to enhanced human security — require more specific knowledge about these and any wars. In addition, the US public should know what the decision to go to war in each of these cases has wrought. Because information facilitates democratic deliberation and effective decision-making, the US should increase transparency by:
ï‚· recording all war related deaths and injuries in the war zones; this includes the deaths, injuries and illnesses of US troops (not just those killed in the war zone or medically evacuated) and contractors (whether US citizens or not), civilians in the war zones, enemy combatants, and prisoners. Records should be completed promptly and systematically and made public on a regular basis;
ï‚· continuing to track the war-related deaths (e.g. suicide) and injuries of troops after deployment, whether or not they receive VA treatment;
ï‚· fully disclosing the number and nature of detentions at home and abroad and in a timely way;
ï‚· making Pentagon accounting for wars and base expenditures more transparent by setting up separate appropriations for war funding, as the Congressional Research Service recommends;
ï‚· including in the accounting of war costs the additions to the “base” Pentagon and Veterans Administration expenditures that are clearly war related, such as the New GI bill, death gratuities and insurance;
ï‚· fully describing and auditing the use of private contractors;
ï‚· regularly disclosing the Pentagon’s fuel consumption for each war zone and supporting operations, including the transportation of fuel;
ï‚· making public the National Intelligence Program budget that is directly related to war (e.g. the CIA drone surveillance and strike program).
Transparency and accountability for war budgets and costs must include not only what has been spent, but the amounts that the US will be obliged to spend by virtue of the fact of going to war. The US should make comprehensive estimates of the budgetary costs of these wars by
ï‚· including the future obligations to veterans;
ï‚· refraining from funding the wars through special or emergency appropriations;
ï‚· including the estimated costs of paying the interest on war borrowing and the estimated difference in cost between borrowing for war versus raising taxes or selling war bonds;
ï‚· estimating the costs of war that are passed on to state and local governments and to private individuals;
ï‚· estimating the macroeconomic effects of war spending on the US economy.
Finally, the research reported here is only a beginning: an independent non-partisan commission should make a thorough assessment of the human, financial, and social costs of the wars of the last decade for the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, the United States and other countries directly affected by the wars.
Background on the Project
A comprehensive accounting of the costs of war must add them all up — the human, economic, social, political, and the lost opportunities in the US and abroad. The Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies was founded with the mission to do research on the issues of war and the costs of war. The Eisenhower Study Group, experts on aspects of the current wars — economists, anthropologists, political scientists, lawyers, historians, and humanitarian field personnel — was assembled by the project directors, Neta Crawford of Boston University and Catherine Lutz of Brown University. The economist Anita Dancs of Western New England College helped put the economic team together, working to coordinate their efforts. Andrea Mazzarino worked as project coordinator.
In January 2011, the Eisenhower Study Group met at the Watson Institute at Brown University in Providence, RI to discuss first drafts of papers assessing the costs of nearly ten years of war. These initial papers were revised, updated, and circulated to other experts for their review. Additional experts were asked to make contributions to the project by writing new papers or memos on topics that emerged during the meeting. Later some students and recent graduates at Brown contributed research assistance. The project directors gave comments to the authors.
The project directors did not tell the authors the conclusions they needed to come to, or how to phrase their reports. We asked the contributors questions and then, in some cases, we asked them to keep digging. In areas where we did not have enough information or potential paper authors did not have time to revise their work, we chose to table those topics for future exploration. The reports remain individually authored and thus the style and tone of the individual reports is not uniform.
Eisenhower Study Group Participants
Neta C. Crawford is Professor of Political Science at Boston University. She is the author of more than two dozen peer reviewed articles on issues of war and peace and the author of two books, Soviet Military Aircraft (1987) and Argument and Change in World Politics (2002), named Best Book in International History and Politics by the American Political Science Association. Crawford has served on the governing Board of the Academic Council of the United Nations System, and the governing Council of the American Political Science Association.
Catherine Lutz is the Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at the Watson Institute for International Studies and Chair, Department of Anthropology at Brown University. She is the author of numerous books on the US military and its bases and personnel, including Breaking Ranks (with M. Gutmann, 2010), The Bases of Empire (ed., 2009); Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century (2001), and a co-founder of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, publishers of The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual (2010). She has also conducted research on UN peacekeeping in Haiti and Lebanon. Lutz is past president of the American Ethnological Society, the largest organization of cultural anthropologists in the US.
Andrea Mazzarino received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Brown University in 2010. In 2011 she served as Faculty Fellow at the Holleran Center for Public Policy and Community Action at Connecticut College. As a Ruth Landes Gender Studies Scholar in 2011-2012, she is conducting research on women, national politics, and work in urban Russia.
Andrew J. Bacevich is Professor of History and International Relations at Boston University. A graduate of the U. S. Military Academy, he received his Ph.D. in American diplomatic history from Princeton. He is the author of Washington Rules: Americaâ€™s Path to Permanent War (2010), The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (2008), and The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (2005), among other books.
Shiva Balaghi is a historian of the modern Middle East. She is an International Humanities Fellow at the Cogut Center, Brown University. Her publications include Saddam Hussein: A Biography (2006) and Picturing Iran: Art, Society and Revolution (edited volume, 2002). She is co-director of the Brown Afghanistan Working Group at the Watson Institute.
Linda J. Bilmes is Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, is a leading expert on US budgeting and public finance. Bilmes was Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer of the US Department of Commerce during the Clinton administration. She is co-author (with Joseph Stiglitz) of the New York Times bestseller The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (2008). She has written extensively on the cost of war and veteransâ€™ issues, including “Soldiers Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan: The Long-term Costs of Providing Veterans Medical Care and Disability Benefitsâ€ (2007). Bilmes is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Anita Dancs is Assistant Professor of Economics at Western New England College. She writes on the military and the US economy, and the economics of war and empire. She has been interviewed extensively by national media including appearanc