Counterterror Costs Since 911: $2.8 Trillion and Climbing
The U.S. has spent nearly $3 trillion dollars in the war on terror, according to a Stimson Center study. The figure includes homeland security expenditures, international programs, and the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, but excludes 2018. Counterterrorism spending has accounted for between 22% (2008) and 14% (2017) of total discretionary spending and, while this percentage has decreased in recent years, there are no indicators that it will continue to do so in the following years. As continued insurgencies and wars continue to indicate, this spending has not been successful in its aim of eradicating extremist ideology and efforts, and the Stimson Report recommends 5 ways in which counterterrorism spending could be better understood and assessed: 1) Create a clear and transparent counterterrorism funding report 2) Adopt a detailed agency-wide definition for counterterrorism spending 3) Build on current accounting structures to anticipate future budget pressures 4) Tie the definition of war spending to specific activities 5) Require Congress to separately approve emergency or wartime spending.