PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ During his address to the American people Tuesday, President Joe Biden pointed to a Brown University estimate of the cost of the war in Afghanistan.
“After more than $2 trillion spent in Afghanistan — a cost that researchers at Brown University estimated would be over $300 million a day for 20 years in Afghanistan — for two decades — yes, the American people should hear this: $300 million a day for two decades,” he said.
The estimate he’s referring to was compiled by Brown’s Costs of War project. Co-founder Neta Crawford joined News Now at 4 just moments after Biden’s speech concluded to discuss the human and financial toll of the 20-year war.
Crawford broke down the the estimated $2.3 trillion price tag of the war, saying the Pentagon spent about $1 trillion. The rest includes additional spending by the State Department, the cost of veterans’ care, an increased DOD base budget, and the estimated interest on war borrowing.
“The U.S. was in a budget surplus in 2001, and immediately we went into budget deficit,” Crawford explained. “We’ve been in deficit since then.”
Crawford said the U.S. chose not to finance the post-9/11 wars through typical avenues like war bonds or increased taxes. While $532 billion in estimated interest is included in the current cost of the war, Crawford said that number will continue to climb.
“We’re assuming that in addition to the interest that the U.S. has already paid on borrowing, there will be payments into the future,” she said.
According to a Costs of War analysis published in January of 2020, “If war spending ceased immediately, interest payments on the $2 trillion of existing war debt would rise to over $2 trillion by 2030 and to $6.5 trillion by 2050.”
In addition to the financial toll, Crawford said millions of people have been displaced and more than 176,000 people were killed due to the two-decade war, a number that includes upwards of 47,000 civilians.
Crawford said the number doesn’t include people who died because of infrastructure disruptions or who were harmed in Pakistan after the conflict spilled over the border.