As the United States prepares to send more troops to Afghanistan to fight ISIS and the Taliban, and the speculation of a nuclear war between North Korea continues to spread with every Donald Trump tweet, it is important to understand that the United States has been fighting in several countries in the Middle East and Asia for nearly two decades. According to a new study, over the past 16 years, all of those wars has cost taxpayers $5.6 trillion, which is 300% more than what the Pentagon estimates.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the study, which was conducted by researchers at Brown University and led by Neta Crawford, “aims to reflect costs the Pentagon doesn’t include in its own calculations since war costs aren’t borne by the Defense Department alone.”
“War costs are more than what we spend in any one year on what’s called the pointy end of the spear,” Crawford said in an interview. “There are all these other costs behind the spear, and there are consequences of using it, that we need to include.”
For example, the study’s estimates include recurring expenses such as long-term medical care for veterans and war costs incurred by the State Department. Costs also reflect related spending by the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and others.
That said, the study does not include costs for U.S. aid to other countries such as the Philippines or allies in Europe or operations in Africa.
Overall, as costs for the Veterans Affairs Administration continue to rise as Vietnam veterans grow older, those costs will continue to grow from veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly other future wars.