Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

The Cost of the Post-9/11 Security State Is $21 Trillion, Report Finds

By AJ Vicens, Mother Jones

The war on terror has fueled 20 years of massive military and other spending.

The war in Afghanistan is coming to a close just days before the 20th anniversary of its preceding event: the 9/11 attacks. Even as the US government pledges to keep attacking targets in the country there—producing horrific collateral damage—the military is out, and we’re beginning to take stock of its enormous cost.

There are the typical numbers you might see, specific to the war in Afghanistan: $2.3 trillion spent; 2,443 American service members killed, along with 3,846 US contractors; and an estimated 71,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians killed. Widening the scope, analyses of data from all the US post-9/11 war-on-terror violence paint an even starker picture: $6.4 trillion in direct spending on wars and war-related costs; 800,000 killed directly in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere; 38 million displaced; and “counterterrorism” operations in 85 countries.

But that’s still not a full accounting of US foreign and domestic military and related activity in the wake of 9/11. A new study from the National Priorities Project at the progressive Institute for Policy Studies calculates that over the 20 years since 9/11, the United States has spent $21 trillion on “militarization, surveillance, and repression,” when analyzed holistically.


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