The most immediate cost was the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives due to the hijacking of four civilian aircraft by nineteen bombers, but the impact of 11 September 2001 still weighs today and will continue to weigh on US society for several decades. Meanwhile, the human losses were not limited to those of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field, as the military reaction of the United States (and its allies) caused over 929,000 victims in the post-September 11 wars (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen), of which 387,000 civilians, while 38 million were refugees and displaced by these conflicts. An emblematic figure of the side effects of that day is that of the 30,177 US troops killed by suicide, compared to the 7,057 killed in post-9/11 war operations.
These numbers are calculations of “Cost of War“, A Brown University project for the twentieth anniversary of the attacks and the most complete attempt to date to have a true balance of the human and economic losses of the events that occurred in the 102 minutes between 8:46 (when the first plane hit the North Tower) and 10:28 (when the North Tower, the second of the two, collapsed) 20 years ago.
The United States, over the past two decades, has already spent about 5.8 trillion dollars in reaction to 9/11 attacks: this number includes the direct and indirect costs of US war zone spending after 9/11, domestic security efforts for counter-terrorism, and interest payments on loans of war. The costs of medical treatment and disability benefits for veterans are the largest long-term expenses of the post-9/11 wars. According to Cost of War, these latter expenditures are likely to exceed $ 2.2 trillion over the next few decades, a figure that bears the grand total at $ 8 trillion (in current dollars).
This astronomical figure is still one underestimate. It does not include all the money provided for humanitarian assistance and economic development aid in Afghanistan and Iraq. It does not include the future costs of interest payments on war loans after fiscal year 2023. It does not include spending by allies, primarily Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Germany and France. One of the biggest difficulties in calculating the true economic impact of 9/11, Brown University researchers point out, is that there has never been a single US government estimate of total costs of the post-September 11 wars, but only partial accounts of the strictly war costs.
The $ 5.8 trillion already spent can be broken down as follows: $ 2.101 billion for Department of Defense appropriations for war operations (including $ 42 billion for fiscal year 2022), $ 189 billion for the State Department / USAID (including 8 billion for fiscal year 2022), 1,087 billion for interests contracted by Washington to deal with the enormous military effort, $ 884 billion for Department of Defense base budget increases due to the post-9-11 wars, $ 465 billion for veterans’ health care / disability, and $ 1,117 for Homeland security prevention and response to terrorism.
So long as veterans continue to bear physical and mental costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, their care costs will reach between $ 2.2 and $ 2.5 trillion by 2050, most of which has not yet been paid. Veteran care expenditures doubled from 2.4% of the federal budget in fiscal 2001 to 4.9% in fiscal 2020, even as the total number of living veterans from all U.S. wars decreased from 25 , 3 million to 18.5 million.
Compared to these numbers, the estimates ofdirect economic impact of the attacks 20 years ago seem almost negligible. According to a 2011 study by the University of Southern California’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), this was between $ 40 and $ 110 billion (between $ 48 and $ 133 billion today). Of these, 22 billion for i business interrupted due to the attacks, 39 billion for reduced air traffic, 61 billion for the crisis in the rest of the travel sector and 1 billion for canceled events. To these must be added 55 billion (which with inflation would be 66 billion in 2021) physical damage and compensation. When compared to the historical and emotional significance of that event, the numbers in this last paragraph seem to suggest that the recovery of the US economy since those days has been quite rapid.
“The economic resilience It’s the missing story of the tenth anniversary – said Adam Rose, CREATE Chief Economist ten years ago – Helps explain why short-term macroeconomic impacts have been relatively small, less than 1% of US GDP. This is why Osama Bin Laden failed to achieve one of his main declared goals: to destroy the US economy ”. Ten years later, twenty years after 11 September 2001, however, it is impossible to deny that the long-term impact is presenting a much higher toll than any possible forecast. “Every country goes to war believing it can win, that the fighting and its consequences will be controllable, that the costs of war will be less than diplomatic efforts or sanctions, and that there will be few casualties because it will take great care to protect its soldiers. and the lives of innocent civilians. But war rarely goes as planned. When things don’t go as planned, new troops are sent to the war zone thinking that just a little more force will make a difference. Costs in lives and money increase as the strength level increases. And the war will continue, ”Neta Crawford, one of its co-authors, writes bitterly in the conclusions of“ Cost of war ”.