‘Death Outlives War’: Analysis Estimates Post-9/11 ​US Conflicts Killed Over 4.5 Million

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Yves here. One of the no doubt intended effects of parochial and jingoistic US news coverage (along with the deployment of fluff like lifestyle features) is that many Americans really are clueless about how much nation-breaking we’ve done in the Middle East alone. And our officialdom seems almost as ill-informed. They seem to be genuinely uncomprehending that many small and developing or just recently “developed” countries have been on the receiving end of Western exploitation and regard Russia as clearly the less ugly of Cinderella’s sisters in the Ukraine war.

By Brett Wilkins. Originally published at Common Dreams

The post-9/11 War on Terror may have caused at least 4.5 million deaths in around half a dozen countries, according to a report published Monday by the preeminent academic institution studying the costs, casualties, and consequences of a war in which U.S. bombs and bullets are still killing and wounding people in multiple nations.

The new report from the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs shows “how death outlives war” by examining people killed indirectly by the War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

“In a place like Afghanistan, the pressing question is whether any death can today be considered unrelated to war,” Stephanie Savell, Costs of War co-director and author of the report, said in a statement. “Wars often kill far more people indirectly than in direct combat, particularly young children.”

The publication “reviews the latest research to examine the causal pathways that have led to an estimated 3.6-3.7 million indirect deaths in post-9/11 war zones,” while “the total death toll in these war zones could be at least 4.5-4.6 million and counting, though the precise mortality figure remains unknown.”

As The Washington Post—which first reported on the analysis—details:

Since 2010, a team of 50 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners, and physicians participating in theCosts of War project have kept their own calculations. According to their latest assessment, more than 906,000 people, including 387,000 civilians, died directly from post-9/11 wars. Another 38 million people have been displaced or made refugees. The U.S. federal government, meanwhile, has spent over $8 trillion on these wars, the research suggests.

But Savell said the research indicates that exponentially more people, especially children and the most impoverished and marginalized populations, have been killed by the effects of war—mounting poverty, food insecurity, environmental contamination, the ongoing trauma of violence, and the destruction of health and public infrastructure, along with private property and means of livelihood.

According to the report, “The large majority of indirect war deaths occur due to malnutrition, pregnancy and birth-related problems, and many illnesses including infectious diseases and noncommunicable diseases like cancer.”

One 2012 study found that more than half of the babies born in the Iraqi city of Fallujah between 2007 and 2010 had birth defects. Among the pregnant woman surveyed in the study, more than 45% experienced miscarriages in the two-year period following the 2004 U.S. assaults on Fallujah. Geiger counter readings of depleted uranium-contaminated sites in densely populated Iraqi urban areas have consistently shown radiation levels that are 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal.

The study also found that some deaths “also result from injuries due to war’s destruction of infrastructure such as traffic signals and from reverberating trauma and interpersonal violence.”

Savell said that “warring parties who damage infrastructure with an impact on population health have a moral responsibility to provide quick and effective assistance and repairs.”

“The United States government, while not solely responsible for the damage, has a significant obligation to invest in humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in post-9/11 war zones,” she added. “The U.S. government could do far more than it currently is to act on this responsibility.”

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  1. DJG, Reality Czar

    They make a desert and call it peace.

    I believe that Naked Capitalism linked to the report from the Italian NGO investigating the flow of refugees through Libya. I read it. Every refugee, male or female, had been raped. It was obvious that the investigators weren’t prepared for that finding.

    The quoted analysis from the Washington Post estimated 38 million refugees. I have read that half of the Syrian population was displaced (total 24 million) as well as half the Iraqi population (total about 28 million). That is twenty-six million displaced or made refugees. I doubt that anyone knows the numbers in Afghanistan. As always, let’s not talk about Palestine, eh.

    Yet will there be repercussions in the U S of A? I doubt it. First, reports such as these get no coverage outside a few news outlets. Second, it is inconvenient all around to acknowledge the sins of the U.S. government, and the obvious example is Bernie Sanders, who just can’t be bothered with U.S. culpability in Ukraine.

    These invisible deaths are minor inconveniences. The dance of death must go on, with Bill and Hill, Jake Sullivan, Mike Pompeo, Victoria Nuland, Gina Haspel, the inconvenient surfacing of DeSantis’s “service” in Iraq… What are four or five million deaths when the dance of death must go on?

  2. Ashburn

    Four and a half million dead, 28 million refugees, and $8 trillion spent. One would think that more than twenty years of this American-made holocaust would have spawned a strong anti-war movement in this country. But you would be wrong. I cannot name one US government official at the national level who has been consistent in denouncing these wars, except perhaps Rand Paul. I was reminded a while back by James Carden that during the Vietnam war a number of US Democratic Senators spoke out loudly and consistently against their own Democratic President, Lyndon Johnson, fought to end the war and refused to approve funding for the war. I wonder whatever happened to the moral courage of the likes of J. William Fulbright, Eugene McCarthy, Robert F. Kennedy, William Proxmire, Wayne Morse, George McGovern, Frank Church, and Mike Gravel.

    1. Telee

      Thank you Ashburn. I have the same feeling. Back in the day there was always some resistance from some democratic politicians. Now I can’t think of one national democratic politician who has any doubt as to the righteousness of our military adventures. They are willing to fund these wars without any apparent reservations.

  3. Rip Van Winkle

    Follow the money.

    Better pictured in Olde English font on an embroidered background,

  4. The Rev Kev

    At least 4.5 million deaths? But at least a lot of people made a lot of money. Just ask Halliburton and Dick Cheney. But ‘that was in another country; And besides, the (plebs are) dead.’

  5. derf

    Add to this the military’s enormous contribution to global carbon emissions, leading to climate change and even more deaths.

    1. JonnyJames

      Not just carbon emissions; massive toxic waste, including radioactive waste. Emissions are just part of the toxic legacy – massive environmental destruction is what we have.

      As the other comments noted. Millions dead, millions displaced, whole countries bombed into the Stone Age, untold billions looted and stolen, trillions of dollars of the public purse transferred into private hands.

      No money for infrastructure, no money for a health care system, and we have to cut SS and Medicare. Plenty money for Mass Murder Inc.

      The illegal siege warfare (so-called sanctions) have also resulted in millions of premature deaths due to lack of medical supplies, food etc.

      And now they will give billions more to UkroNazis and Apartheid Israel to murder more people.

      US/UK denizens have no right to criticize ANY country, historical or present. The atrocities of the US and vassals rival those of any we can think of.

  6. JBird4049

    >>>They seem to be genuinely uncomprehending that many small and developing or just recently “developed” countries have been on the receiving end of Western exploitation and regard Russia as clearly the less ugly of Cinderella’s sisters in the Ukraine war.

    Maybe it is because I remember the various breakings of countries by the United States during the Cold War, or maybe because this got hammered into me by my family and college professors, but I am always amazed at this ignorance.

    But should we be surprised? It is interesting how all the various horrible effects of our wars have even just on American veterans gets memory holed. Maybe that is one of the reasons for the cuts in the history departments in many colleges.

  7. JBird4049

    Using the American Civil War, the battle field deaths were a few hundred thousand, but the war ultimately caused about a million dead, military and civilian, with the dying sometimes coming decades later after suffering all that time. Then there were the injured, and those maimed physically and mentally by their experiences.

    Unexploded landmines, bombs, and shells, poisoned gas, defoliants, diseases have all caused death, physical and mental illness, and hunger decades, even more than a century after a war’s end. Just look at the farmland that is still unavailable in countries like Cambodia and France. I do not find it odd that people often do not talk about their experiences in war except maybe near their life’s end. Who would want to relive hell?

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