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US post-9/11 wars caused 4.5 million deaths, displaced 38-60 million people, study shows

Wars the US waged in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan following September 11, 2001 caused at least 4.5 million deaths and displaced 38 to 60 million people, with 7.6 million children starving today, according to studies by Brown University.

us army soldiers iraq 2007
US Army soldiers occupying Iraq in 2007

(Se puede leer esta nota en español aquí.)

The wars the United States waged and fueled in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan following September 11, 2001 caused at least 4.5 million deaths, according to a report by Brown University.

Nearly a million of the people who lost their lives died in fighting, whereas some 3.6 to 3.7 million were indirect deaths, due to health and economic problems caused by the wars, such as diseases, malnutrition, and destruction of infrastructure.

These were the conclusions of a study conducted by the Cost of Wars project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

The report also analyzed the effects of wars in Libya and Somalia, which were sponsored by Washington.

The scholars estimated that, in the countries studied, there are still today 7.6 million children under age 5 who are suffering from acute malnutrition, meaning they are “not getting enough food, literally wasting to skin and bones, putting these children at greater risk of death”.

In Afghanistan and Yemen, this includes nearly 50% of children; and, in Somalia, close to 60%.

child malnutrition us wars post 911

In a separate study in 2021, Brown University’s Cost of Wars project found that the United States’ post-9/11 wars displaced at least 38 million people – more than any conflict since 1900, excluding World War II.

This 2021 report noted that “38 million is a very conservative estimate. The total displaced by the U.S. post-9/11 wars could be closer to 49–60 million, which would rival World War II displacement”.

post 911 us wars displaced 38 million people

The May 2023 study, which estimated that US post-9/11 wars killed 4.5 to 4.6 million people, emphasized that large numbers of civilians are still perishing today, due of the lasting consequences of these violent conflicts.

Although the US military withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, “today Afghans are suffering and dying from war-related causes at higher rates than ever”, the report noted.

In addition to the staggering death tolls, millions more civilians were wounded and suffered other incredible hardships due to these wars.

“For instance, for every person who dies of a waterborne disease because war destroyed their access to safe drinking water and waste treatment facilities, there are many more who sicken”, the study highlighted.

The 2023 report “highlights many longterm and underacknowledged consequences of war for human health, emphasizing that some groups, particularly women and children, suffer the brunt of these ongoing impacts”.

People living in poverty and those from marginalized groups had higher rates of death and lower life expectancies.

The document stressed how the “post-9/11 wars have caused widespread economic hardship for people in the war zones, and how poverty, in turn, has been accompanied by food insecurity and malnutrition, which have led to diseases and death, particularly amongst children under age five”.

indirect deaths post 911 us wars

In virtually all wars, indirect deaths represent the majority of the lives lost. The Brown University researchers pointed out, for example, “In conflict areas, children are 20 times more likely to die of diarrheal disease than from the conflict itself”.

Damage to infrastructure that happens during wars is likewise very deadly. “Hospitals, clinics, and medical supplies, water and sanitation systems, electricity, roads and traffic signals, infrastructure for farming and shipping goods, and much more are destroyed, damaged and disrupted, with lasting consequences for human health”, the report noted.

Economic problems caused by these post-9/11 wars have been devastating.

Two decades of US-NATO military occupation of Afghanistan left behind a borderline apocalyptic economic crisis.

More than half of Afghanistan’s population is in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 per day. A staggering 95% of Afghans do not have enough food.

In Yemen, more than 17.4 million people are food insecure, and 85,000 children under age 5 have likely died from starvation.

Even in countries where large numbers of US troops weren’t deployed on the ground, Washington’s wars have destroyed the lives of countless civilians.

US drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia “significantly impact people’s livelihood sources”, killing workers, destroying farms and businesses, and bankrupting families.

“The severe impact of such economic setbacks on populations who depend on the land for their survival cannot be underestimated”, the report emphasized.

Washington’s so-called counter-terrorism laws in Somalia have also “hampered humanitarian relief efforts, intensifying the effects of famine”, the researchers noted.

Hundreds of thousands of children have died from famine in the East African nation.

The Brown University studies are part of a growing body of scholarship documenting the death tolls of post-9/11 US wars.

A 2015 report by the Nobel Prize-winning group International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) concluded that 13 years of Washington’s so-called “War on Terror” caused a total of 1.3 million deaths, including 1 million in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan, and 80,000 in Pakistan.

IPPNW cautioned that this 2015 figure was “only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely”.

Report: Over 1.2 million killed in US wars on Iraq and Afghanistan



  1. Eric Arthur Blair

    2023-05-19 at 16:24

    From a 2021 article by the esteemed journalist Nafeez Ahmed (who was turfed out of his Guardian job for speaking too much truth):

    “applying the Geneva Declaration methodology suggests that between 4.2 and 4.6 million is the range encompassing the minimum number of people who are likely to have died as an indirect consequence of these post-9/11 wars.
    When the number of direct and indirect deaths in each major war zone is then totalled, it reveals that at least 5.8 to 6 million people are likely to have died overall due to the War on Terror – a staggering number which is still probably very conservative.”

    I heard in a podcast that the current number of refugees, again largely due to the USA, was more than twice the 38 million figure, but need to track down that source.

    Ben, you are gathering an extremely important archive of crimes against humanity here. One day, one day, we dream the guilty will be held to account and the wretched of the Earth will have their justice.

  2. JonnyJames

    2023-05-20 at 10:32

    Also, the results of illegal siege warfare (so-called sanctions) have resulted in many thousands of innocent people dying from lack of medical supplies, food etc. For example, Afghanistan was looted of its central bank reserves (billions) – the poorest country in the world. To make matters worse, the illegal blockade of the country results in even MORE death, and ill health. The crimes against humanity just keep rolling

    • Eric Arthur Blair

      2023-05-21 at 21:18

      Please recall the hated Madeleine Albright who said the death of half a million Iraqi children due to US sanctions was “worth it”.
      May she rest in piss (boiling in hell)

      • JonnyJames

        2023-05-25 at 12:23

        No need to remind me, I was a teenager then, but I recall very clearly. The video clip made a resurgence after the evil scumbag died.
        Women can be bloodthirsty, callous warmongers as well: equal opportunity for privileged sociopaths, not for the rest.

        Recall HRC after Gaddafi was beheaded and disemboweled with a sword: “We came, we saw, he died” followed by a sinister cackle and laugh. Nice sense of humor eh

  3. John Puma

    2023-05-23 at 06:05

    The US has staged a grinding, rolling holocaust, almost non-stop, since the USSR halted “the original” prior to/during WWII.

    Of course, as noted in Norton’s video report on the issue, the US started its mass destruction of lives much earlier. The Congressional Research Service report on historic US military interventions is available as a pdf, search:
    “Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2022”

    The wikipedia version:
    It is based in part on the CRS report, above.

    • Dennis

      2023-05-25 at 16:51

      No, the US just gives pocket change to some army or rebel group in some country and then all the sudden everyone who dies there is our fault.

      • JonnyJames

        2023-05-26 at 10:06

        Yeah Dennis a trillion a year is pocket change. Carpet bombing Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos and then Iraq/Libya/Syria/Afghanistan was just trillions of pocket change.

        You must live in an ivory tower of ignorance and denial. Who needs pesky facts to get in the way of our fairy-tales? Burn all the history books while you are at it eh. Ignorance is bliss

  4. Kalecki

    2023-06-13 at 08:12

    This is why I continue to find it strange that Russia decided to stage their own version of the U.S.’s failed, bloody Middle Eastern ventures.

    You would think that someone as politically astute as Putin would have looked at what happened to the US in, say, Afghanistan, seen how drawn out guerilla resistance can defeat overwhelming military superiority, and thought “Yeah…let’s not do that.” And also seen how the whole “they’ll greet us as liberators!” idea didn’t work in Iraq.

    Now Russia’s got itself stuck in the Ukraine quagmire, while the Ukrainians clearly aren’t greeting the Russian forces as liberators and will probably keep fighting even if all their biggest population centers fall. Like the campaigns undertaken by the US in the so-called ‘War on Terror’, it’s hard to see how it ends well for anyone. And as always it’ll be the common people on both sides of the conflict who will shoulder the true costs of the war.

    • Ghiles Benmoussa

      2023-07-29 at 07:23

      Ukraine is at their borders.
      Ukraine shares its history with Russia.
      Its nowhere near as close between USA and the countries of the middle east. The comparison doesn’t match up.

  5. Eric Arthur Blair

    2023-07-05 at 06:54

    Hey Kalecki AKA Minsky AKA Maynard Ponzi (to name just a few of your aliases). There is no hope of exorcising the demonic perversions from your fevered brain, of straightening your twisted head which has turned 180 degrees backwards. But it is worthwhile correcting your duplicitous distortions for the clarity of readers seeking sanity here.
    Firstly, Russia did not “stage” in Ukraine their own version of USA’s failed ME interventions. The entire Ukraine situation was completely staged by the USA, certainly since the CIA staged the Maidan coup of 2014 and since the relentless movement east of NATO, staged by the USA, since the 1990s, with potential placement of nuclear capable missiles just minutes from St Petersburg and Moscow. As I said before and I repeat again to get into your thick skull: Putin tried hard many times to avoid military intervention, to seek a peaceful resolution, but Minsk 1 and 2 were sabotaged by the West, as admitted by Merkel, Hollande, Poroshenko and Naftali Bennet. Also Zelensky was ready to sign a peace accord in April 2022, barely 1 month after the SMO, but the USA sent their messenger boy BoJo to Kiev to sabotage that possibility.
    We know that in 2008 William Burns, then US ambassador to Moscow, sent a now famous memo to Washington, “Nyet means Nyet”, emphasizing that if Ukraine became a de facto (not necessarily de jure) NATO state (as it has now become) it would cross Moscow’s red line and would certainly provoke war. THIS IS WHAT THE USA KNEW AND WANTED AND ENGINEERED AND STAGED. THE USA WANTED TO PROVOKE A WAR. This was to be a proxy war, using Western Ukrainians as cannon fodder, as chickenshit armchair warmongers are wont to stage. Far be it for those US cowards to shed their own blood.
    Russia had NO CHOICE other than military intervention to stop the genocide of Russian speakers in Donbass by the UkroNazis. John Mearsheimer and Ray McGovern assert this. Noam Chomsky says war was not justified but does not explain how else the Russians could have put a stop to the UkroNazis committing genocide against Russophones.
    Secondly Russia HAS INDEED BEEN RECEIVED AS LIBERATOR by the people of Crimea and Donbass. This is a simple fact, documented in many reports and video documentaries and testimonies by foreign eye witnessess. This is not surprising given the fact that the people in those territories are mostly Russian speaking. Referenda were held, with more than 90% in favour of joining Russia, not only after the SMO started, but even years prior to the SMO.
    Thirdly Russia has no interest in occupying western Ukraine, where they would certainly face guerilla resistance. Your assumption regarding this potential quagmire proves that your head is screwed on backwards. All sensible analysts understand that Russia is mainly interested in protecting Russophones in Ukraine, who welcome the Russians with open arms. This may include Odessa, a city founded and built by Russians and populated even today by majority Russian speakers. What else remains will be an impoverished land bound western ukrainian rump state, devoid of industrial capability and wealth (industries were >80% located in Donbass). If Polish and Hungarian and Rumanian vultures pick over the bones of a useless western Ukie rump state, Moscow could not care less. The rabid Nazi Banderites infesting Galicia are a poisoned pill that will sicken any who try to swallow it.
    Russia understands that ongoing Ukronazi terrorist pinprick attacks are likely on an ongoing basis. But how is that any different from the Ukronazi terrorist attacks against Russophones in Donbass prior to the SMO? The difference is that several hundred thousand western Ukrainians are now dead and the Ukronazi ability to pursue further terror is being systematically destroyed, along with hundreds of NATO tanks and APCs in the last month alone. Future F16s will be shot down as soon as they take off, if not before.

    Russia’s intervention in Ukraine is NOTHING AT ALL like the USA’s misbegotten criminal interference in Afghanistan and your attempt at portraying such false equivalence once again proves how irredeemably stupid you are, Ponzi.

    • Eric Arthur Blair

      2023-07-05 at 07:00

      I must reiterate that I am not Russian, I know no Russians and I have never been to Russia. I have simply tried hard to find out the truth regarding the Ukraine situation, using verifiable documented evidence.

  6. Моисей Аллахакбарович

    2023-07-19 at 05:52

    Certainly, equating Afghanistan (or Iraq) – USA wars WITH Ukraine – Russian one (actually, NATO-Russian proxy war) is big mistake.
    And let me explain WHY – on own experience.

    My family were at Donbass, I made unbelievable efforts to evacuate them from there to Russia.
    It will take a lot to describe what happened there, at my family native town of Donbass. Which is 5 km or so from frontline, at Russian side now.

    To say just a little, Ukraine army and NATO mercenaries bombed churches (because they are of Moscow patriarch), bread lines (bread is Russian), water and electricity supplies (Russians repaired it).
    My family house destroyed.
    When evacuated, the car was targeted, I believe by polish mercenaries there.

    Guess WHAT? Any word about this in western press? ZERO!
    According to information I have – it is all the same over thousands of kilometers of the front. Everywhere.
    But western MSM absolutely SILENT!

    Take into account, Russian and Ukrainian families are deeply integrated. Hard to find Russian family without Ukrainian relatives and vice versa.

    And all that makes a BIG BIG BIG difference with – say, Iraq.

    Iraq did close to ZERO war crimes against Americans.
    Media never hided war crimes against Americans there – there were simply NOTHING to hide.
    The number of joint Iraqi-American or Afghani-American families is close to NOTHING.

    Compare that with close to 12 000 000 Ukrainians (like me) living in Russia or ones who became refugee.

    And all THAT directly and knowledgeably caused by western politicians “to hurt those Russians”.

    As well, Afghanistan and Iraq wars “other” sides were NOT supported in the “unlimited paycheck” way, like Ukrainian one.

    Russian generals did not planned everything in details for Saddam or Afghanis – like it is done in Ukraine.

    It is ABSOLUTELY different wars.

    • Eric Arthur Blair

      2023-09-22 at 17:19

      Dear Моисей Аллахакбарович, I cannot begin to imagine the trauma and harm you and your family experienced under bombardment by the US neonazi proxies. I can only hope and pray that all of you are and will continue to be well.

  7. julianmacfarlane

    2023-10-13 at 04:48

    The Intelligence failure. Everyone is talking about is exactly that failure of intelligence – meaning the ability to think. And that comes from buying into your own bullshit – that is, the Big Lies that agencies tell themselves to maintain what is known in corporate management research as “organizational stupidity”. . The more complex the organization the greater the stupidity. Hence the need for “Big Lies”. But you’re not just intended for propaganda purposes .

    This is why the US persists in a failing strategy against Russia and China – one which in the end could destroy the country.

    So Israeli and American intelligence want to believe in the superiority of their military and intelligence services – and the inferiority of the Arab untermenschen .

    Hamas was smart enough to prove them wrong.. Because for them the Big Lies were just lies.

    Intelligence failures. Everyone is talking about is exactly that failure of intelligence – meaning the ability to think. And that comes from buying into your own bullshit – that is, the Big Lies that agencies tell themselves to maintain what is known in corporate management research as “organizational stupidity”. . The more complex the organization the greater the stupidity. Hence the need for “Big Lies”. But you’re not just intended for propaganda purposes .

    This is why the US persists in a failing strategy against Russia and China – one which in the end could destroy the country.

    So Israeli and American intelligence want to believe in the superiority of their military and intelligence services – and the inferiority of the Arab untermenschen .

    Hamas was smart enough to prove them wrong.. Because for them the Big Lies were just lies.

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