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Counting the cost of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (UAE) – America’s longest war, the two-decade-old conflict in Afghanistan that erupted after the September 11 terrorist attacks, killed tens of thousands of people, persecuted four US presidents and finally became invincible. despite the shocking wine of blood և treasure.

This latest chapter, by President Biden’s decision to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, hints at the enormous cost of war losses.

Here is the price of America’s election campaign: bloodshed, wasted resources, future repercussions for a war-torn nation on the brink of chaos.


The Afghans paid the highest price. At least 47,245 civilians have been killed in the war since April 47, 2001, according to Brown University’s War Expenses Project, which documents the hidden costs of the 9/11 war.

A total of 72 journalists and 444 medics have been killed in the conflict, which has killed at least 72 journalists and 444 medics since the start of inter-Afghan peace talks in Qatar last fall, UN observers said.

The Afghan government keeps the casualties among its soldiers secret so as not to upset the morale, but the Costs of War estimates that the war has claimed 66,000-69,000 Afghan troops.

The war forced 2.7 million Afghans to flee abroad, mainly to Iran, Pakistan and Europe. Another 4 million people are displaced within a country of 36 million.

At the same time, 2442 American servicemen have been killed and 20666 wounded in the war since 2001, according to the Ministry of Defense. More than 3,800 US private security contractors are estimated to have been killed. The Pentagon is not following up on their deaths.

The conflict also killed 1,144 members of the 40-member NATO coalition that has trained Afghan forces over the years, according to iCasualties. The remaining 7,000 Allied troops will also leave Biden by the 9/11 deadline.


According to the War Expenses Project, the United States has spent a staggering $ 2.26 trillion on dizzying spending.

The Department of Defense’s latest 2020 report states that war spending has totaled $ 815.7 billion over the years. It covers the operational costs of the US military in Afghanistan, from fuel to food to Humvees, weapons to ammunition, from tanks to armored vehicles to aircraft carriers to air strikes.

Although the United States first invaded al Qaeda to avenge its massacre of its hosts, the Taliban, the United States, and NATO soon focused on a more open, massive nation-building mission.

According to the latest figures from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Washington has invested more than $ 143 billion since 2002.

Of that, $ 88 billion was spent on training, upgrading and financing the Afghan military and police forces. Another $ 36 billion was spent on reconstruction projects, education infrastructure such as dams and highways, according to a SIGAR report. Another $ 4.1 billion went to humanitarian aid for refugees in disasters. The campaign to deter Afghans from selling heroin has cost more than $ 9 billion.

Unlike other conflicts in American history, the United States has borrowed heavily to finance the war in Afghanistan, paying about $ 530 billion in interest. It also paid $ 296 billion for other medical care for veterans, according to War Expenses. It will continue to pay for those costs for years to come.


Most of the billions spent on huge infrastructure projects have been squandered, the US Inspector General has found. Als canals, dams and highways were damaged as Afghanistan failed to absorb the flood of aid. Newly built hospitals and schools were empty. Without proper oversight, US money has led to corruption that undermines government legitimacy.

Despite the costly anti-drug campaign, opium exports reached record highs. Despite billions in weapons and training of Afghan security forces, the Taliban have increased their area of ​​control. Despite the huge costs of job creation and welfare, unemployment is around 25%. According to the World Bank, the poverty rate has fluctuated over the years, reaching 47%, until 2020, when the fund began to calculate 36%.

“We invested too much, we invested too little to show it,” said Michael Wahid Hanna, a senior fellow at the Dari Foundation in Washington.


Although few want to end the war, many fear that its eventual ending could jeopardize Afghanistan’s modest gains in health, education, and women’s rights in the first years as the United States expanded its economy and toppled the Taliban, which imposed strictures on women,

The World Bank notes that since 2001, life expectancy has increased from 56 to 64 years. Maternal mortality has more than halved. Education opportunities have increased. Literacy rate increased by 8% to 43%. Life in cities has improved. 89% of the population has clean water before the war 16%.

According to the UN, child marriage has decreased by 17%. Girls’ enrollment in elementary school has almost doubled, more women have been admitted to college and served in parliament. These figures are still pale by world standards.

But the failure of America’s ambitions to build a wider, more stable, democratic Afghanistan has left the country in a state of uncertainty as US forces withdraw. The history of the nation tells of a civil war that followed foreign invasions.

“For better or worse, the United States now has a serious stabilizing presence; when it does, it will be in a power vacuum,” said Michael Cullen, an economics expert at the London School of Economics. “There will be many points in the 20-year war that need to be resolved.”

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