The Eight Outrageous Costs Of The War On Terror

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5. War Related International Assistance (State Department/USAID)
> Conservative estimate: $74.2 billion
> Moderate estimate: $74.2 billion
> Major costs: Iraq Relief and Reconstruction and the Afghanistan Economic Support Fund

Since 2001, money has been given to Congress for “international assistance,” the majority of which is spent on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to Anita Dancs, Assistant Professor of Economics at Western New England College, in her report International Assistance Spending Due to War on Terror, there are two types of international assistance: “security,” which she describes as military assistance and “non-security,” which she describes as “typically humanitarian or economic aid.” Currently, over $74 billion in assistance has been spent. This excludes money that is not already included in the Pentagon’s budget for the military costs of war, although a large percentage of the money is administered by the DOD. The greatest portions of this amount have gone to “Iraq Relief and Reconstruction” (just under $21 billion) and the “Afghanistan Economic Support Fund” ($11 billion.)

6. Additions to Homeland Security Spending for the War on Terror
> Conservative estimate: $401.2 billion
> Moderate estimate: $401.2 billion
> Major costs: US Customs and Border Protection

Homeland security is, of course, a central aspect of the War on Terror, and the one that many Americans have had first hand experience with. Spending in this category includes money spent on both preventative measures and responding to and recovery from incidents. By following the trends in pre-September 11 security spending growth, Dancs estimates that the amount actually spent on homeland security since 9/11, which is now just under $650 billion, has been over $400 billion more than it would have been had the wars not taken place. According to numbers from the Department of Homeland Security, the greatest amount of homeland security money in 2010 was spent on U.S. Customs and Border Protection, followed by the U.S. Coast Guard and the frequently unpopular Transportation Security Administration.

7. Projected Obligated Funds for Veterans’ Medical and Disability to 2051
> Conservative estimate: $589 billion
> Moderate estimate: $934 billion
> Major costs: future medical costs and benefits

Even if the U.S. were to exit the wars tomorrow, the nation’s fiscal commitment to veterans would continue for years to come. According to Bilmes, “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.” Veterans also receive additional benefits, such as housing and educational funding. History shows that veteran costs peak 30 to 40 years after a conflict. By looking at current costs for providing medical care and benefits for veterans, it has been estimated that provisions over the next 40 years will fall somewhere between $600 billion and $1 trillion.

8. Social Costs to Veterans and Military Families
> Conservative estimate: $295 billion
> Moderate estimate: $400 billion
> Major costs: Lost income of discharged soldiers

There are a number of costs, aside from those involved with government provisions, which directly affect veterans and their families. These costs include money lost by family members abandoning paying jobs to care for injured veterans, loss of income for discharged soldiers who cannot collect disability due to reasons such as self-employment, loss of productivity as a result of mental illness, and the affects of a long line of other social problems, including divorce, substance abuse and domestic abuse. Taking all of these scenarios into account, experts believe that additional social costs rooted in the service of veterans represent a fiscal burden of between $295 and $400 billion.

Douglas A. McIntyre and Charles B. Stockdale