Costs of War

Reuters published a story outlining a research project "Costs of War" by Brown University's Watson Institute of International Studies:

"Costs of War" brought together more than 20 academics to uncover the expense of war in lives and dollars, a daunting task given the inconsistent recording of lives lost and what the report called opaque and sloppy accounting by the U.S. Congress and the Pentagon.

The report sheds light on some staggering statistics from the past decade, for example:

  • "In human terms, 224,000 to 258,000 people have died directly from warfare, including 125,000 civilians in Iraq. Many more have died indirectly, from the loss of clean drinking water, healthcare, and nutrition. An additional 365,000 have been wounded and 7.8 million people -- equal to the combined population of Connecticut and Kentucky -- have been displaced."
  • "For every person killed on September 11, another 73 have been killed since."
  • "War spending may be adding half a percentage point a year to growth in the gross domestic product but that has been more than offset by the negative effects of deficit spending, the report concludes."
  • "War has probably killed more people in Pakistan than in neighboring Afghanistan."
  • "The numbers only consider direct deaths -- people killed by bombs or bullets. Estimates for indirect deaths in war vary so much that researchers considered them too arbitrary to report."

While considering these numbers, lets remember that the U.S. Government is generally expected to hold itself accountable in regard to quantifying the damages.

Don't forget what Tommy Franks, U.S. commander in Iraq, said after the fall of Saddam in 2003; "We don't do body counts."

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