The exorbitant cost of the ‘war on terror’

Regarding the post on the Pentagon burning the Osama bin Laden death photos, Andrew Everett writes:

Recently, I read a 1967 Washington Post column by Art Buchwald in which he estimated that it cost $323,000 to kill one enemy combatant in Vietnam. Mr. Buchwald then questioned whether the U.S. would be better off to offer Viet Cong defectors “a $25,000 house, a color TV, free education for their children and a paid-up country club membership.” Funny — haha. A $25,000 house!!!

So, I decided to try to figure out how much money it has cost the U.S. to capture or kill each terrorist who took part in 9/11. To start I used a recent Harvard Kennedy School study which put the cost of the Afghan/Iraq “wars” at $4 Trillion (thru fiscal year 2012).

If there were 100 terrorists who committed 9/11, then it cost $40 Billion to capture or kill each terrorist.
If there were 1,000 terrorists who committed 9/11, then it cost $4 Billion to capture or kill each terrorist.
If there were 100,000 terrorists who committed 9/11, then it cost $40 Million to capture or kill each terrorist.

NOTES: the total cost of the Iraq/Afghanistan “wars” are expected to exceed $6 TRILLION (the $4 trillion is what we have spent so far and does not include long-term veteran’s benefits/healthcare/etc)…

Also NOT included are the increases in funding for the NSA, CIA, FBI, (etc) which must be a huge number – but is impossible to determine.

Nor are non-defense items such as gas, oil, food, clothing for soldiers included … must cost a lot to ship all those supplies to the gulf–and then FLY them into Afghanistan.

Nor do the numbers include the most important statistics: number of human lives lost, number of families broken up, number of refugees forced to leave their homes…

https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=8956

Art Buchwald’s Hilarious column: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=9MQtAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_p8FAAAAIBAJ&dq=art-buchwald%20332000&pg=5278%2C229474

12 comments

  1. Curtis Fenwick says:

    Sometimes great wisdom comes from unexpected places: in the words of Casey Anthony, ‘A huge waste’. Nations that engage in never ending wars strangle themselves to an eventual death. Think about how life would be if every child born in the US had an immediate savings account started by the state or Federal government with just a couple hundred of the dollars wasted on war. That child would mature to enjoy funds for college, its first home & job career. It could also eliminate homelessness. The USA has been operating in the red since the Civil War. When will it ever learn?

  2. anonymous says:

    Vietnam was a large part of the cold war. The Vietnam war caused the Federal Reserve to default. John Connally famously told a group of European finance ministers that the dollar “is our currency, but your problem. Today he might have said f*ck the EU:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YSFNOaJupE

    Lap dog Tom Brokaw shares his memory of JFK’s assassination and the American University speech.
    Brokaw’s time line is out of wack (a propagandist habit) when he talks about the speech in terms of “Khruschev taking him out to the wood shed” and describes JFK as a cold warrior. Brokaw claims that
    JFK would have fought the Vietnam war in his second term:
    http://www.c-span.org/video/?312462-1/FKR

  3. John Kirsch says:

    JFK had given some strong indications that he wanted to reduce tensions with the Soviets.
    If he had lived and been able to do that, and if he had kept the U.S. out of Vietnam, those changes would have spelled an end to the bloated military budget.
    All those poor, struggling defense contractors would have had to consider the possibility of doing something constructive with their vast resources, since they would no longer have been able to grow rich and powerful by inventing new ways to kill people and waste our money.

  4. Andrew Everett says:

    Thought readers might be interested in how I came upon this Art Buchwald column–it was in a Foreign Policy article last September (link below). The FP article revealed that by 1967 Art Buchwald was placed under NSA surveillance for writing satirical columns about the Vietnam War. Shockingly, there were others targeted by NSA as well: among them were U.S. Senator Frank Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Whitney Young, Muhammad Ali, various U.S. journalists/writers and peace activists. In all, at least 1,600 U.S. citizens were targeted by the NSA. All of this was revealed in an FOIA document which was just one page of an official four volume internal history of the NSA.

    I find it alarming that the NSA was spying on U.S. citizens in such a short time frame (the NSA was created in 1952). According to a recent speech by NSA researcher James Bamford, Sen. Frank Church learned of this list and asked the NSA to reveal the list of those targeted. Of course, they never allowed Sen. Church to find out HE was one of those under investigation. It is only after almost 40 years that “We, the People” have finally been allowed to see Page 85 of the official NSA internal history (the NSA document is included at the bottom of the Foreign Policy article). What do the other pages reveal? How many pages are in the four volume NSA history?

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/09/25/it_happened_here_NSA_spied_on_senators_1970s

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks, Andrew.

      The current revelations of NSA spying come as no surprise to me. Allegations by government officials that Snowden has done irreparable damage are laughable. What’s most interesting to me is how lax the NSA was with its internal security to allow Snowden to vacuum up so much information.

  5. Jonathan says:

    War may not be good for children and other living things, but it sure as hell is profitable; it sure allows for the testing of new weapon systems; and it sure is good for creating command experience in a combat zone, oh so important for career advancement in the military.

    Anyway, what’s $1T when the Federal Reserve can create money pretty much at will? Isn’t there a story JFK had it in for the Fed?

  6. anonymous says:

    Day by day, we see growing rancor between the US and Russia. The media is barraging Russia and Putin with a drumfire of negative stories. The Sochi Olympics have come in for relentless, petty attacks and criticizing Moscow for pouring billions on the Sochi Olympics after trillions were wasted on stupid wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Cold War is inching back. Muslims are out, Ruskis are in.

    “F….Europe! – Such were the words used in Kiev, Ukraine by Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe.

    Nuland is a prominent American neoconservative. Like her fellow neocons, she disdains Europe for being unwarlike, mildly critical of Israel, and often insufficiently responsive to Washington’s demands – or even insubordinate, like the awful French.
    How delicious was it that Nuland’s pithy reference to Europe and her plans for a new western-confected government in Ukrainian – where the US insists it is not at all interfering – were picked by Russian electronic intelligence and played to the world. How dim for Madame Nuland to speak so thoughtlessly on her cell phone.
    Of late, Nuland and other senior US officials have been blasting Moscow for “meddling” in Ukraine. The leaked phone recording has Nuland telling the US ambassador to Kiev which of the three opposition candidates Washington wants to run Ukraine.
    Nuland’s plans for regime change in Kiev have been a godsend to Moscow, which claims the US and EU are behind the uprising in Ukraine. She has just undermined the democratic Ukrainian opposition by making them look like American puppets. Score one for Russia’s spooks. All Nuland could do was splutter about how Russian intelligence had intercepted her cell phone. This after the US National Security Agency was revealed to be bugging the phones and email of most of Europe’s leaders. What goes around comes around.

    Europe is fearful that the Ukraine crisis could cause a head-on clash by Washington and Moscow – just as the little Georgian War over Ossetia almost did in 2008. Interestingly, during that crisis, the US rushed warships to the Black Sea. This time, US Navy warships are back again in the Black Sea under the laughable excuse they are on station to evacuate US tourists to the Sochi Olympics if violence occurs.”

    http://ericmargolis.com/2014/02/f-europe/

  7. anonymous says:

    War is profitable for some corporations because they force negative effects to third parties: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_externalizing

    Joan Mellen talked about her book A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History. Joan Mellen describes how civil air patrolman, David Byrd’s companies wee resuscitated by the Vietnam war. She also compares the Warren commission to the 911 commission and the NSA/DOD failure:

    http://www.c-span.org/video/?191056-1/FKs

  8. Clarence Carlson says:

    Ah yes, the “war on terror”. The first time I heard that term used all the hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up. It’s good that someone actually counted the cost for this project. What isn’t included is the cost of the assault on our constitution, unprecedented government intrusion into the lives of Americans and the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths due to collateral damage.

    • John Kirsch says:

      When I first heard the phrase “war on terror,” I thought of Ahab’s demented quest to kill Moby Dick, which wound up sinking the Pequod with only Ishmael left to tell the tale.
      The “war on terror” is equally demented. It’s like saying you want to rid the world of evil. How in the world could you possibly do that? Why would you want to do that? How do you define “evil” or “terror”?

  9. TLR says:

    The military-industrial-intelligence complex has been in the saddle since the 1940s. It’s not a coincidence that Ike gave his speech seven months after the mysterious U-2 incident, which wrecked the peace summit Eisenhower hoped to end his Presidency with.

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