True Cost of War


  • The United States spends more than the next 45 highest spending countries in the world combined.
  • The United States accounts for 46.5 percent of the world’s total military spending.
  • The United States spends on its military 7 times more than China, 13.3 times more than Russia, and 73 times more than Iran.
  • The United States and its strongest allies (NATO, Japan, South Korea and Australia) spend close to $1.1 trillion on their militaries combined, representing 72 percent of the world’s total.
  • The potential “enemies,” Iran, Russia, and China together account for about $169 billion or 24% of the US military budget.

A war economy is one built on the premise of perpetual war, making things that wear out and blow up, providing short-term employment – as opposed to a peace-time economy that devotes it resources to making things that people can actually use to better their lives, thereby perpetuating employment and prosperity rather than destruction.

Will fighting terrorists “over there” by invasion and occupation and the inevitable “collateral damage” succeed? General McChrystal called it “insurgent math, for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.”

Non-military spending produces far more bang for the buck:

  • Each billion dollars of tax revenue allocated to tax cuts for personal consumption generates approximately 10,800 jobs.
  • Investing the same amount in the military creates 8,500 jobs.
  • Investing it in health care yields 12,900 jobs; in education, 17,700 jobs; in mass transit, 19,800 jobs; and in construction for home weatherization and infrastructure, 12,800 jobs.

True Cost of War

War US Military Deaths Civilian Deaths
Revolutionary 25,174 (unavailable)
1812 20,000 (unavailable)
Civil War 620,000 50,000
WWI 116,516 6,458,886
WWII 405,399 36,372,900*
Korean 54,246 1,847,240
Vietnam 58,177 2,000,000**
Iraq 4,254 1,366,350
Afghanistan 1,036 32,969
TOTAL 1,304,802 48,128,345

* Number includes the 9,000,000 that died in the Nazi concentration camps.
** The Vietnamese communist government in 1995 estimated that 2,000,000 Vietnamese civilians on both sides died in the war.


Outside of the United States, the Department of Defense has 823 military installations in 135 countries and 86 in US territories. The U.S. owns 119,050 structures on 5,311 sites valued at $464 Billion throughout the world.

See the effect of the war economy on Oregon. Click image to see larger version

Statistical data is available on request at 


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