$171 billion has been spent thus far on the Afghanistan War, and new funding requests will likely be submitted soon.
In light of this, the National Priorities Project and the American Friends Service Committee have released a new study titled “The Cost of War in Afghanistan” that looks at examines the costs of the ongoing war. It points out that the U.S. has covered the majority of the costs and that the actual cost will likely be much higher than what has been allotted thus far. It cites long-term projections to say that the cost of the occupation may be closer to half a trillion dollars.
Aside from examining the economic cost, the report looks briefly at the human costs of the war:
- U.S. Casualties: 675 soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, with 2,606 wounded. The number of soldiers killed has increased each year.
- Afghan Casualties: The Department of Defense does not track Afghan casualties, but a 2002 estimate suggested that over 20,000 civilians died. Civilian deaths continue to increase and were up 40% in 2008 over 2007 levels.
- Refugees and Internally Displaced Peoples: Some 3.7 million Afghan refugees have left their homes in the past two decades due to conflict in the country.
Costs of the Afghanistan War for Michigan
The study also provides an analysis of how much each state has paid for the Afghanistan War thus far and looks at how the money could have been used by the state.
For Michigan, the war has cost $4,562,444,255. This amount could have paid for:
- 689,712 Head Start places for children that could have been provided for one year
- 1,715,450 people who could have been provided with health care for one year
- 6,412,287 homes that could have been provided with renewable electricity for one year
Additionally, the report says that 16 soldiers from Michigan have died in the Afghanistan War.
Larger Policy Context Presented
Beyond the costs of the war, the report provides a brief overview of the policy context. It looks at the past thirty years of conflict in Afghanistan and says that conditions have not gotten any better since the U.S. invasion. It provides a portrait of a rapidly declining country in which support for the government is falling and access to services is limited. Similarly, the U.S. occupation–with its daily raids and bombings–is increasing support among some sectors of the population for insurgents.
The report says that “Ultimately what is needed is not more troops, but well directed aid
along with diplomacy.” It cites the policy prescriptions of the American Friends Service Committee as a way of bring peace to the region. That organization asserts that:
- Military means cannot solve the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan
- The US must cease air strikes
- The needs, wishes, and well-being of the Afghan people must be at the center of rebuilding Afghanistan
- Negotiations must include all groups involved in the conflict, including the Afghan government, the Taliban, other groups within Afghanistan, and all of Afghanistan’s neighbors