May 23, 2018
Catherine Lutz, co-director of the Watson Institute’s Costs of War project, responds to President Trump’s repeated claim that the United States "has spent $7 trillion in the Middle East." The President is referring to ongoing US wars against terrorism in that region, and he is thought to be drawing on Costs of War data. However, as the media has pointed out, he gets the number wrong. According to Costs of War estimates, the war on terror has cost the US $5.6 trillion. This figure includes spending not just in the Middle East (in Iraq and Syria), but also in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It also includes future costs of caring for post-9/11 veterans and portions of Homeland Security related to counterterrorism. The Costs of War project includes these budget items to draw attention to the enormous burden – far larger than most people recognize – of taking the United States to war.