According to estimates of the Costs of War Project of Brown University, half were civilians, the direct financial costs are estimated at 4.6 trillion US dollars
From the outset, the United States has refrained from counting the number of deaths and injuries in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Syria was not included in the report, where alone more than half a million people were killed. Other countries such as Yemen, Somalia, Libya or Niger were not included either. For Afghanistan and Iraq, the United Nations regularly publishes the number of war victims, and other organisations such as AirWars also try to give an overview by evaluating various sources.
Under Obama, the Pentagon only began to list civilian victims in Iraq and Syria who could practically not be denied, while all those killed were routinely described as militants. This led to such small figures that this could be described as alternative, at any rate extremely clarified facts that are far removed from reality. In June 2018, the Pentagon counted 499 civilians killed and 167 injured in US operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen. However, the Pentagon felt compelled to present at least some figures, and other warring parties have kept them silent.
The victims were and are mainly the civilian population.
Neta Crawford, the author of the current report, a professor of politics at Boston University and co-director of the Costs of War Project, also makes it clear that this is only an approximate estimate and that the wars are likely to have left many more dead. Not only civilians but also killed soldiers, policemen and militants were counted. The latter were also included because they were often civilians. So it is only about the victims of direct violence, not about the many people who died indirectly or as a result of displacement, for example as a result of war-related illnesses, lack of clean drinking water, lack of food or lack of medical care. If one were to include the number of indirect deaths, i.e. cynically the collaterals, one would have to speak of a million and more deaths as a result of the wars. If you look at the figures for Afghanistan and Pakistan (October 2001 to October 2018) and Iraq (March 2003 and October 2018), you will again notice what you already know, but what makes the reality of these asymmetric wars clear: In the total number of victims, the – of course exactly listed – numbers of killed US soldiers (6951) and allied soldiers (1464) are insignificant. Even if one includes the American contractors (7820), the respective native population has to bear the overwhelming burden if the USA or Germany are defended at the Hindu Kush or elsewhere. 362 journalists were killed, the vast majority in Iraq, and 566 aid workers, mostly in Afghanistan.
Almost 110,000 local soldiers and policemen have been killed as allies, half of them in Afghanistan, where there is still no end to the war in sight. Around 250,000 civilians are said to have lost their lives, the vast majority in Iraq, where the report estimates 182,272 to 204,575, and in Afghanistan “only” more than 38,000 so far. The number of “opposition fighters” killed is estimated at less than half of the civilian victims, namely between 109,396 and 114,471. According to the report, 42,000 were killed in Afghanistan, most of them in Afghanistan, and 34,806 to 39,881 in Iraq, slightly less. In Iraq in particular, however, the numbers can be far higher. Nobody knows how many civilians and militants were killed during the offensive, especially on Mosul, but also on other cities, and still lie under the rubble of the bombed city. There could be tens of thousands more dead civilians, especially since the government had instructed the people to stay in the city even before the offensive. The US government under president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama had no objection.
Millions of refugees and trillions in costs
Deaths are only the top, the number of injured, mutilated and traumatised is much higher. The latter include the displaced and fugitives. According to the report, there were 4.8 million refugees and displaced persons in Afghanistan in 2017, 3.25 million in Iraq and 12.5 million in Syria, compared with 380,000 in Pakistan. These figures show how the fight against terror is becoming terror for the local population and a burden for neighbouring countries. There are 1.3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and 900,000 in Iran. Most of the refugees from Iraq and Syria, around 3.5 million, live in Turkey. Iran has also welcomed one million Syrians and Iraqis in addition to the Afghans.
The financial costs of the war were also estimated again, including the costs for internal security in the context of the defence against terrorism, the expenses for the veterans and the interest for the pumped war expenses. By November 2017, expenditures for U.S. citizens are estimated at $4.351 trillion, including $534 million in interest. By the end of 2017 the costs will have risen to 4.632 trillion US dollars, and in 2018 alone almost 90 million US dollars in interest will have to be paid. And the interest on the debt taken out, which is why the costs of the war against Iraq were called peanuts under Bush, will rise by another trillion dollars in the next few decades.
by (Florian Rötzer)
Translated from German to Engish by alfonso