The Cost of Debt-financed War: Public Debt and Rising Interest for Post-9/11 War Spending

Author
Heidi Peltier
Content Type
Special Report
Institution
Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
Abstract
Throughout the 18 years the U.S. has been engaged in the “Global War on Terror,” mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan, the government has financed this war by borrowing funds rather than through alternative means such as raising taxes or issuing war bonds. Thus, the costs of the post-9/11 wars include not only the expenses incurred for operations, equipment, and personnel, but also the interest costs on this debt. Since 2001 these interest payments have been growing, resulting in more and more taxpayer dollars being wasted on interest payments rather than being channeled to more productive uses. This paper calculates that the debt incurred for $2 trillion in direct war-related spending by the Department of Defense and State Department has already resulted in cumulative interest payments of $925 billion. Even if military interventions ceased immediately, interest payments would continue to rise, and will grow further as the U.S. continues its current military operations.
Topic
Debt, War, Military Spending, 9/11
Political Geography
Pakistan, Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria, North America, United States of America