Latest Estimate: Financial Cost of
Wars Nearly $5 Trillion
By Naomi LaChance
September 16, 2016 "Information
The total U.S. budgetary cost of war
since 2001 is $4.79 trillion,
according to a report
released this week from Brown
University’s Watson Institute.
That’s the highest estimate yet.
Neta Crawford of Boston University,
the author of the report,
included interest on borrowing,
future veterans needs, and the cost
of homeland security in her
The amount of $4.79 trillion, “so
large as to be almost
incomprehensible,” she writes, adds
up like this:
The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Syria, and other
overseas operations already cost
$1.7 trillion between 2001 and
August 2016 with $103 billion
more requested for 2017
Homeland Security terrorism
prevention costs from 2001 to
2016 were $548 billion.
The estimated DOD base budget
was $733 billion and veterans
spending was $213 billion.
Interest incurred on borrowing
for wars was $453 billion.
Estimated future costs for
veterans’ medical needs until
the year 2053 is $1 trillion.
And the amounts the DOD, State
Department, and Homeland
Security have requested for 2017
Crawford carried out a similar
study in June 2014 that
estimated the cost of war at $4.4
trillion. Her methodology mirrors
that of the 2008
book The Three Trillion
Dollar War: The True Costs of the
Iraq Conflict by Linda Bilmes
and Joseph Stiglitz.
There are even more costs of war
that Crawford does not include, she
writes. For instance, “I have not
included here state and local
government expenses related to
medical care of veterans and
homeland security. Nor do I
calculate the macro economic costs
of war for the U.S. economy.” She
also notes that she does not add the
cost of war for other countries, nor
try to put a dollar figures on the
cost in human lives.