The Brookings Register reports a half a million people have been killed by the US since 9/11. From A different path: Let’s try nonviolence:

According to the Watson Institute at Brown University, the U.S. has spent $6 trillion on wars and killed half a million people since 9/11.

My question is, are the statistics accurate concerning kills?

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    – Sklivvz
    Mar 30, 2019 at 17:55
  • History is written by the winners. How can you expect accurate statistics?
    – FluidCode
    May 5, 2023 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


The report that you are looking for is available online for free at United States Budgetary Costs of the Post-9/11 Wars Through FY2019. What you are interested in is this quote.

The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post-9/11 war veterans.

The methodology is explained in detail within the report (and is too long to directly quote here). This addresses your first concern on the $6 trillion dollar cost. You will also be interested in the report Human Cost of the Post-9/11 Wars: Lethality and the Need for Transparency, published by the same researcher.

All told, between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

This accounts for the "half a million people since 9/11," which represents the high end of the estimate. All figures are broken down by "type" (e.g. US Military, US DOD Civilian, US Contractor) and are cited by subsection.

Are the statistics accurate concerning casualties?

According to non peer-reviewed documents by a single researcher at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, "between 480,000 to 507,000 people have been killed" in post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It is estimated the US has appropriated or will be obliged to spend $5.9 trillion on the war on terror. These figures are viewpoints of a single researcher and may not necessarily represent those of the broader scientific community.

Note: "Non-peer reviewed" was mentioned because in the Author's CV, under Publications: Peer Reviewed Journal and Book Articles, neither of the documents are mentioned or listed. Thus, the assumption was made that neither of the documents were peer-reviewed.

  • 12
    "have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars" is not quite the same as "were killed by the US". Although you could argue that many of these deaths, even when not directly caused by the US, can be blamed on the US indirectly through the disruption caused by the wars, "the US killed half a million" sounds like a more direct cause and effect chain than that. Mar 20, 2019 at 9:56
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    I don't think "yes, according to the source already listed in the question" is a very strong answer for this site. We should be looking into where this data came from, how confident we can be that it is correct, and whether it's being represented accurately by the emotive headline claim.
    – IMSoP
    Mar 20, 2019 at 18:19
  • @SebastianRedl (and IMSoP), good points and I will revise the answer. Mar 20, 2019 at 18:43
  • Thanks again for your patience @Barry. I'm working from COST OF WAR DEATH TOLL chart at Brown. The chart says 7,820 US Contractors were killed in the middle eastern theater. Did the US really kill 7,820 of its own contractors? How does army accidentally kill 7,800 of its own employees or contractors? Something seems wrong with the statistic to me. (This is the problem I have had from the outset, and it prompted the question. I'm suffering some sort of disconnect. Maybe my imagination is too limited).
    – user36321
    Mar 21, 2019 at 0:03
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    I have to echo @IMSoP. The source of this claim is kind of scholarly, not some ranting internet troll, but it is not clear how the estimate was arrived at or if it is accurate. The answer needs to make the poor quality of the evidence very clear. Instead, the answer just presents a visualization of the claim. Mar 21, 2019 at 16:53

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