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The War on Terror in numbers

The War on Terror has cost $1,283 billion and has left between 227,000 and 300,000 dead. About 51% of these deaths are civilian casualties.

by Jean Marc Manach On May 5, 2011

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À propos de l'auteur

A 5 ans, j'ai gagné un poste TV. A 15, je voulais faire du ciné. A 17, je lançais un fanzine, underground. A 20, une revue, expérimentale. A 25, un journal gratuit, sur les "arts de l'écran". A 28, je découvrais le Net.

Journaliste internet depuis 1999, j'enquête sur la montée en puissance de la société de surveillance, @OWNI, pour LeMonde.fr (Bug Brother), sur Facebook & Twitter.


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The 9/11 attacks resulted in 2,996 casualties, which included 343 firefighters and 59 police officers who were in trying to save victims inside the World Trade Center. The War on Terror launched by George W. Bush Jr. has led to at least 227,000 people (more than 300,000 according to other estimates). This includes 116,657 civilians (51%) between 76  - 108,000 insurgents or Taliban Islamists (34% to 36%), 25,297 Iraqi and Afghan soldiers (11%), and 8,975 American, British, and other coalition forces (3.9%).

Based on the documents released by WikiLeaks, the Guardian estimated in October 2010, 109,032 civilians and soldiers were killed in Iraq between 2004 – 2009. This included 66,081 civilians, 23,984 enemy forces, 15,196 Iraqi soldiers, and 3,771 coalition troops.

Yet these statistics do not take into account that the deaths tolls were only from the coalition reports. icasualties.org has listed 4,770 coalition troops (4,452 American and 179 British) who have died in combat in Iraq since 2003, and 2,441 soldiers (1,566 American, 364 British, and 56 French) who died in Afghanistan since 2001.

It is worth mentioning the number of  pro-Saddam forces that died in Iraq: 16,595 security forces from the post-Saddam era, 1,764 private contractors, 1,002 Sons of Iraq, and between 38,778 and 70,278 other supporters of the regime.

In Afghanistan, there were 7,500 casualties from Afghan security forces – 200 were from the Northern Alliance, and more than 38,000 were either part of the Taliban or insurgents.

Civilians casualties in Iraq

During the War on Terror, civilians suffered the greatest number of deaths. The Iraq Body Count documented between 100 and 110,000 civilians who died violent deaths since 2003 (whereas WikiLeaks only mentions 15,000 civilian deaths in its WarLogs).

A study published in The Lancet medical journal estimated that there were 654,965 deaths between 2003 and 2006 – representing 2.5% of the Iraqi population. This would suggest that today the statistic would be updated to about 1,455,590 casualties.

If the figures published in The Lancet are controversial, the estimated number of victims from the Iraqi War could range from 100,000 to over one million.

According to the UN, in Afghanistan the number of civilians killed since 2006 would be “only” 9,759, of which 6,269 were killed by antigovernment forces, and 2,723 by coalition or regular army forces. Another 6,300 to 23,600 civilian deaths resulting directly or indirectly from the war between 2001 – 2003 should be added to this statistic.

The below video is an excerpt from the documentary Rethink Afghanistan by Robert Greenwald, known for his films on Fox News and the Bush Administration:

Just Foreign Policy - Morts irakiens dus a l'invasion U.S.

The cost of war

In total, the War on Terror has cost $1,283 billion since 2001. This money was used to fund three primary programs: Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Noble Eagle which strengthened military bases’ security (this last program was mainly conducted during the first years of the War on Terror).

The cost of the war correlates with the main two conflicts. The Iraqi withdrawal largely affected the budget – the cost declined from $142.1 billion to $95.5 billion between the 2008-2009 fiscal year. In 2010, the budget for Afghanistan surpassed that for Iraq.

The Iraq War has cost $806 billion, which is 64% of the total amount of the War on Terror. Afghanistan for its part has cost a total of $444 billion.

150,000 US soldiers still in combat

In the weeks after the 9/11 attack, Washington invaded Afghanistan with the consent of the UN Security Council (who created the International Security Assistance Forces in December 2001).  The number of American soldiers present was slowly increasing just until 2007. Afghanistan was not a priority, particularly in March 2003 during the beginning of the Iraq war. 150,000 soldiers were mobilized for the new initiative – 10 times more than those in Afghanistan.

In 2007, George W. Bush launched a massive surge of troops to end the bloody violence in the country. Between January to November, the number of troops went from 132,000 to 170,000. Between both Iraq and Afghanistan, there were 195,000 US troops on the ground – a number that would only be reached again in August 2009.

As a promise made on the campaign trail, Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Yet between April 2009 and September 2010, the number of troops committed to the war went from 39,000 to 98,000 – roughly 2.5 times more. In June 2009, the situation reversed between the two countries – the number of troops in Afghanistan outnumbered those in Iraq, a consequence of the surge in Afghanistan and the withdrawal in Iraq.

This figures, however, are not reflective of reality. As featured on OWNI in November 2010 [FR], there is a rise of private military companies being contracted in Iraq and Afghanistan. These extra forces consist of about 207,553 troops (112,092 in Iraq and 95,461 in Afghanistan), which surpasses the 175,000 number of regular military troops (79,100 in Iraq and 95,900 in Afghanistan).

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