Lives lost, poverty, an arms race, rights destroyed … the continuing cost of 9/11
The US has now spent $8 trillion over 20 years in its response to the attacks. But the true price has been more than financial
Successive US administrations since 2001 have spent $8tn – that’s to say $8,000bn or $8 million million – on what George Bush, its progenitor, termed the “global war on terror”. Joe Biden complains that Afghanistan alone cost the US $300m a day for 20 years. These mind-boggling numbers are mere estimates. Their sheer size is hard to comprehend. In any case, it’s absurd to reckon the cost of a worldwide trauma purely in dollars and cents.
So how should a phenomenon that, looked at in the round, is the most epically damaging man-made calamity of recent times be properly measured? The overall cost of the “war on terror” can be gauged in many different ways – in terms of international development, arms spending, environmental impacts, civil and human rights, the rule of law and the balance of power. Yet most striking is the cost expressed in ordinary lives lost and ruined.