What We Haven't Counted

We did not, nor could we, count or assess all the effects of these wars.

We did not include in our tallies of budgets:

  • future State Department/US AID spending on the wars beyond 2012 including $5.3 billion of reconstruction aid promised but not yet delivered to Afghanistan
  • some expenses related to veterans, including the budget for the new GI bill, and the benefits to veterans from state and local governments
  • state and local costs for homeland security that are not reimbursed by the federal government
  • how much all the allies and military partners of the United States spent on the wars and how much those expenditures may have been offset by reimbursement, grants, loans, or other forms of compensation, and, in particular, how much the wars have cost the governments and economies of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan
  • the budgetary and economic effects of the wars on the economies of the regional neighbors of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan (e.g. the extra costs of caring for refugees or the potential stimulating effect of increased demand for goods by refugees)

We did not count or systematically estimate or evaluate the:

  • effectiveness of the wars in providing security or raising risks to the US
  • effects on natural disaster preparedness of having U.S. National Guard  troops and equipment abroad
  • effectiveness of the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan of the US, its allies, the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations in promoting economic reconstruction, health, and education. The U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) http://www.sigir.mil/ and the U.S. Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) http://www.sigar.mil/ have issued many reports and testified before Congress.
  • profits, excess profits, and waste of all defense contractors and weapons manufacturers
  • number of "insurgents" killed or how many contractors employed by U.S. allies have been killed or wounded
  • resources devoted by the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, and other nations to ameliorate war related suffering in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan
  • success of the U.S. promise to bring democracy to Iraq (although see Niland in this report on Afghanistan). We have not done a similar assessment for Iraq and Pakistan.

We have not assessed changes in American "standing" in the rest of the world since the wars began. For this, see research done by the Pew Research Center's "Global Attitudes Project," http://pewglobal.org/.

Some budgetary items are included in the totals for Pentagon war spending but their portion of the spending is not easy to identify or estimate for various reasons, including concerns about secrecy. Specifically, we were unable to specifically identify:

  • how much of the money within the Pentagon's budget for these wars for "Commander's Emergency Response Program funds" in Afghanistan and Iraq was used for condolence (or "solatia") payments to the survivors of a civilian killed by U.S. operations, or to individuals who have been injured or whose property has been damaged by the war.   Those payments totaled about $31 million in Iraq in FY2005 and 2006 and 210,000 in Afghanistan in FY2006.[1] We have not identified the additional condolence money that has been paid in Afghanistan and Iraq by the United States Department of State and the Agency for International Development. Although the Pakistani government does provide some assistance, the U.S. does not provide aid to civilian victims of drone strikes in Pakistan.
  • the costs of the CIA managed Predator and Reaper RPV "drone" surveillance and strike program in Pakistan (and Yemen, where strikes have also occurred). This "black" budget item is inside the Pentagon budget and includes the costs of the drones, the operators, fuel, and weapons, and is not publicly known.  We cannot say if expenditures for the drone program are entirely contained in the accounting of Pentagon spending for the wars or also partly in the "base" portion of the Pentagon budget. We can say this about the Air Force version of the drone program. As the New York Times reported in 2009, "Air Force officials acknowledge that more than a third of their unmanned Predator spy planes — which are 27 feet long, powered by a high-performance snowmobile engine, and cost $4.5 million apiece — have crashed, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan."[2]
  • the portion of the National Intelligence budget devoted to the wars.  The proposal to separate the National Intelligence Program money from the overall Pentagon budget has not been approved by Congress.  In February 2011, the Director of National Intelligence released for the first time their annual budget request: $55 billion.  "Any and all subsidiary information concerning the National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget, whether the information concerns particular intelligence agencies or particular intelligence programs, will not be disclosed. Beyond the disclosure of the NIP top-line figure, there will be no other disclosures of currently classified budget information because such disclosures could harm national security."

Finally, we could not quantify the emotional suffering in the U.S., Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq of those who have lost loved ones or their communities.

 

 

 


[1] Government Accountability Office, "The Defense Department's Use of Solatia and Condolence Payments in Iraq and Afghanistan," GAO, May 2007.

[2] Christopher Drew, "Drones are Weapon of Choice in Fighting Qaeda," The New York Times, 16 March 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/business/17uav.html.

[1] Government Accountability Office, "The Defense Department's Use of Solatia and Condolence Payments in Iraq and Afghanistan," GAO, May 2007.
[2]
 Christopher Drew, "Drones are Weapon of Choice in Fighting Qaeda," The New York Times, 16 March 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/business/17uav.html