Surprise! The War on Terror Is Incredibly Expensive

February 3, 2015 | Christopher Inoa

The global “War on Terror” that started in 2001 and has sent American troops to both Afghanistan and Iraq has cost American taxpayers $1.7 trillion dollars, reports Forbes. That number, along with an infographic by Statista, comes from data collected by The Mercatus Center, citing a report from the Congressional Research Service.

According to Veronique Del Rey of the Mercatus Center, “When it comes to funding national defense, policymakers tend to ignore war costs so an accurate assessment on the burden on taxpayer of overseas military ventures is increasingly important as pressure mounts to increase the Pentagon’s regular ‘base’ budget.”

Most of the taxpayer’s money has gone to the Department of Defense, which Del Rey argues is actually going into “offense” rather than “defense,” and that policymakers in Washington purposefully mislabel funds to avoid budget caps:

“War funding, which is budgeted under the title “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO), is also exempt from the spending caps implemented by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Policymakers have been rightly criticized for evading the caps by designating funds as OCO that should arguably be in the Pentagon’s base budget.”

Compared to previous military operations, the inflated cost of the Vietnam War was less than half the cost of the current “War on Terror.”

(Graph: Forbes)