Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bin Laden: $1 million, USA: $3 Trillion

There's a sobering article over at The Atlantic: The Cost of Bin Laden: $3 Trillion Over 15 Years. According to the authors, that price tag is the conservative estimate. And what did we get for our money? Predator drones.

How much did Osama bin Laden have to spend to do this? Maybe $1 million.

Osama bin Laden's reign of terror should remind us just how tenuous civilization is. It's hard work to build things, but trivially easy to vandalize and destroy them. An artist can spend a month on a beautiful mural, only to have it destroyed in minutes by a kid with no talent and a can of spray paint. Our society can spend billions building a modern skyscraper, only to have it destroyed in an hour by a few men with small knives in their pockets.

Just how much did Osama bin Laden really cost us? We'll never know the true answer, but we do know this.
  • Instead of raising taxes to pay for the war, we borrowed money. We now have a massive debt that will plague us for generations.
  • There are over 1,271 different government institutions charged with counterterrorism missions. Over fifty of these agencies do nothing but track terrorist finances.
  • Two wars left over 5,800 U.S. soldiers dead. Depending on who you ask, roughly 150,000 civilians were killed, the majority of whom were women and children.
  • There are unknown thousands of grievously injured American soldiers whose are permanently disabled.
  • There are hundreds of thousands of orphans, widows and widowers whose hatred for America will last a lifetime.
  • We left two countries destroyed, and now we have to rebuild their schools, roads, bridges and cities while our own schools, roads, bridges and cities fall apart.
War appeals to us. He hit us – we should hit him back. But too often we forget that the real costs of war aren't the war itself. The true tragedy of war is the debris, debt, disfigurement, death and hatred that it leaves behind.

We destroyed the Taliban. But we created something worse: the seeds of the next war.


  1. The taliban are in no way destroyed. Bin Laden wasn't even taliban.

  2. They'll just put another maniac in charge and it'll be another $3 trillion, another ten years, more dead soldiers and more liberties whittled away.

    Stay home. Defend the homeland. Simple as that. You'll never win over there.


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