The REAL Cost of the Wars Since 9/11

It’s easy to assume that the events of 9/11 are known to the whole world, but to break this myth I found a short documentary of a small film crew who visited Afghanistan in September 2011. They simply walked around with a USMC unit, engaging in discussion with local Afghans, showing photos of the World Trade Centers and asking if they were familiar with the reasons of why the U.S. was fighting in Afghanistan. The overwhelming majority of Afghan locals had no clue as to why the US was fighting in their country. In fact, the film crew filmed USMC officers being asked by local Afghans,

“What is the relation of 9/11 to Afghanistan?”

Their answers prove that even US military officers have no clue as to why the US is fighting in Afghanistan. The US is truly is a country in decline, fighting wars they don’t understand. The video clip is less than 6 mins and I highly recommend to watch it here:

In addition, Stars and Stripes just reported today that most Afghans are unfamiliar with 9/11 and poorly understand the events. This is in line with a report that came out in 2011 where 1,000 Afghan men were surveyed about the events of 9/11, in which 92 percent of them were completely unaware of it. Heck, even Fox News reported on this back in 2011!

It’s also important to remember that most of the people that the US is fighting in Afghanistan aren’t the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. In fact back in 2009, the year that I was in Afghanistan as well as when Matthew Hoh¬†resigned his position from the Pentagon and the same year that President Obama announced the SURGE in Afghanistan, US intelligence officials reported that the majority of the “enemies” in Afghanistan were not who the media reported the US is fighting. Who are we fighting?

“Ninety percent is a tribal, localized insurgency,” said one intelligence official in Washington…
“Ten percent are hardcore ideologues fighting for the Taliban.”

The slogan #NeverForget should really be #NeverEvenKnow.

Now, the costs of the wars since 9/11 have been confusing. We hear different numbers. Trump has claimed we’ve spent $7 trillion, DoD recently reported we’ve spent $1.4 trillion, and the Watson Institute of Brown University reported last year that we’ve spent $5.6 trillion. Here’s my analysis of the three:

Trump $7 Trillion: So when Trump says $7 trillion spent in the Middle East, he is most likely referring to all the money spent on protecting the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf since 1976. Remember, we in the US start with 9/11 but US relations in the middle east started long before. Even the Afghanistan civil war (1978-present) was ongoing before the US invaded in 2001. This Time article goes over some of the details of the $7 trillion spent. So this may be hard to say, but Trump is correct when he says $7 trillion.

The DoD $1.4 Trillion: Their report only accounts for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria and only reports on war budgets. But we should all know that the US has been engaging in more than those three countries. After all, the Pentagon is bombing 7 countries and we have troops conducting counter-terror activities in at least 76 countries, with troops in even more countries.

Watson Institute $5.6 Trillion: They report on ALL war-related costs, which would include veterans care as well as all homeland security operations involved in those wars. Watson also includes costs of ALL wars, not just the three that the DoD reported on. In addition, the Watson Institute is an independent academic source of information, much more reliable than a report funded by the source who is initiating these wars. This is a huge conflict of interest. The co-director of the Cost of War project from the Watson Institute, Catherine Lutz, recently made a 1 minute video in response to Trump’s $7 trillion claim.

Today, the Pentagon, the Taliban, and the Afghanistan government are conducting talks to negotiate some kind of peace deal hopefully bringing the war in Afghanistan to an end. After 17 years of US involvement in a 40 year civil war, it is time to end this mess. The US should bring the troops home, the Afghanistan government can deal with the Taliban with diplomacy, and the Afghanistan people should be left to dictate their own lives in whichever way they feel. Enough is enough!

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