According to the latest estimate from the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute, the US “War on Terror” has killed at least half a million people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan since 2001. However, the report does not include the half million that have also been killed in Syria since 2011, which the United States joined in 2014, as well as indirect deaths. More specifically, deaths are also caused by the war’s impact on public health, especially regarding food and water shortages as well as limited electricity and access to hospitals. According to the report, the need to keep the public fully informed on issues in the Middle East could help empower demands to shift US foreign policy, stating that, “Too often, legislators, NGOs, and the news media that try to track the consequences of the wars are inhibited by governments determined to paint a rosy picture of perfect execution and progress.”
The direct deaths accounted for in the most recent estimate include “United States military soldiers, contractors, and Defense Department employees as well as the National military and police, and other allied troops, civilians, journalists, opposition fighters, and aid workers.” A majority of those killed were civilians, “between 244,000 and 266,000 across Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Up to 204,000 of them were Iraqis.”
While there has been no corporate media coverage on this recent report, all eleven pages of the update are available to the public through Brown University’s Watson Institute. The United States government has a history of underreporting the estimates and costs of waging war but has recently aimed to improve and to provide an accurate report of “post-9/11 U.S. military action in the Middle East, ‘and to foster better informed public policies.’” In light of the most recent midterm election and the Democratic party taking control of the House of Representatives, it has been suggested that, “‘House Democrats will try to advance a national security strategy emphasizing restraint and accountability for the costs of the War on Terror.’” There is hope that these changes will lead to optimal transparency regarding the ongoing wars, and that the American public can be made aware of their full and mounting costs.
Jessica Corbett, “Half a Million Killed by America’s Global War on Terror ‘Just Scratches the Surface’ of Human Destruction,” Common Dreams, November 9, 2018, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/11/09/half-million-killed-americas-global-war-terror-just-scratches-surface-human.
Neta C. Crawford, “Human Cost of the Post-9/11 Wars: Lethality and the Need for Transparency,” Costs of War, Watson Institute, Brown University, November 2018, https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2018/Human%20Costs,%20Nov%208%202018%20CoW.pdf.
Student Researchers: Briana Llanos and Sierra Kaul (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)