After 9/11, US taxpayers shell out $10.5mn every hour to fund war against terror

  • Sourjya Bhowmick and HT Data Team, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 12, 2014 01:34 IST

The 13th anniversary of the biggest terrorist attack on American soil, which changed the global paradigm of terrorism, is on Thursday.

George Bush, the then US president, had said that the United States will use all its resources to conquer the enemy and the battle will take time to resolve but will be won.

Interestingly, US President Barack Obama laid out his ISIS plans in a televised speech on Wednesday. Obama said he has the "authority he needs to take action" against the ISIS.

A war definitely takes a huge social toll, but how much did it cost the US economically to continue with its engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001?

If we take a look at the cost of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, then US taxpayers have been paying $10.5 million every hour to fund it. Interestingly, $10 million has been used in Afghanistan and the figure is still increasing every second.

The following interactive gives an idea of how much the taxpayers pay every hour on defence as compared to education, housing assistance, nutrition and medical aid:

Click here to see the interactive

If you add up the numbers, then US taxpayers pay almost $70 million on security related expenditure per hour and spend around $62 million for the county’s social needs.

Now, what would Americans fund if they had the power to decide?

We select the state of Texas and Illinois to conduct this trade off exercise as George Bush belonged to Texas and started the ‘war on terror’ and Obama represents the state of Illinois.

The graph above clearly shows the kind of change it can bring for its citizens if the US government substitutes its defence budget and invests in social parameters instead.

Apart from the economic aspect, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq has killed at least 6,800 US soldiers, 1, 54,000 civilians (direct casualty to the war to consequences like breakdown of public health) and uprooted more than 3 million people from their homes.

In response to a HT mail query, Neta Crawford, professor of political science at Boston University, says that it would have been unlikely that the US would have started a war in Iraq in 2003 if Al Gore or Obama would have been the president.

It is also doubtful if the Afghanistan invasion would have taken place at all, let alone the funding of the Northern Alliance in 2001.

Crawford also suspects that ISIS engagement of the US can lead to a far larger commitment, which is $7.5 million a day right now.

Recent air strikes by the US have helped the Iraqi forces secure the Haditha Dam area from the ISIS. More than 100 air strikes took place on ISIS targets in Iraq since August this year.

Obama should keep the real cost of war in mind before he takes on the ISIS.

Interactive : Vignesh Radhakrishnan (@vinuthewriter)


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