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The Cost of US Security

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the yeah-but-we've-foiled-potential-shampoo-bombers dept.

Security 456

Hugh Pickens writes "The Atlantic reports that as we mark Osama bin Laden's death, what's striking is how much he cost our nation and how little we've gained from our fight against him. By conservative estimates, bin Laden cost the US at least $3 trillion over the past 15 years, counting the disruptions he wrought on the domestic economy, the wars and heightened security triggered by the terrorist attacks he engineered, and the direct efforts to hunt him down. 'What do we have to show for that tab,' ask Tim Fernholz and Jim Tankersley. 'Two wars that continue to occupy 150,000 troops and tie up a quarter of our defense budget; a bloated homeland-security apparatus that has at times pushed the bounds of civil liberty; soaring oil prices partially attributable to the global war on bin Laden's terrorist network; and a chunk of our mounting national debt.' In 2004 bin Laden explicitly compared the US fight to the Afghan incursion that helped bankrupt the Soviet Union during the Cold War. 'We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy,' said bin Laden, adding that that every dollar spent by al-Qaida in attacking the US has cost Washington $1m in economic fallout and military spending."

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as said before here many times (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148482)

when terrorism makes us become something we are not then terrorism has won - we are less free and less wealthy

Re:as said before here many times (3, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148610)

Well, the issue with that is that terrorists don't fulfill any kind of objective by "winning" that way.

Bin Laden was not the Joker. He didn't live specifically to cause chaos for chaos' sake, nor was he a "watch the world burn" kinda guy. He had goals, even if they were poorly thought out and immorally executed ones. Same goes for anyone else who could reasonably be labelled a "terrorist".

You can't say "If we give up our freedoms, the terrorists win" because no terrorist organization that I am aware of specifically wants you to give your own government more power. It's not an objective they can check off on a list. They don't benefit. They might gloat, granted, but whatever possessed them to resort to mass murder in the first place isn't advanced by the erosion of civil liberties in the name of imagined security.

Besides, it shouldn't be about "winning". You can win the war on terror - what would the victory conditions be? The complete eradication of every terrorist everywhere? Good luck with that. While we're wishing, lets hope for the complete eradication of all disease while we're at it. The terrorists have by and large set such unrealistic goals for themselves that they can't win either. Since neither side can ever claim to have met their objectives, how can either ever hope to win?

The issue at hand ought to be prevention of attacks by reasonable and just means. Keep them from hurting innocents, without depriving those same innocents of liberty. This isn't a complicated concept, and it's a lot better than some nebulous war on "terror" as if terror were a nation state that could be conquered or subdued.

Re:as said before here many times (5, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148764)

You can't say "If we give up our freedoms, the terrorists win" because no terrorist organization that I am aware of specifically wants you to give your own government more power. It's not an objective they can check off on a list. They don't benefit. They might gloat, granted, but whatever possessed them to resort to mass murder in the first place isn't advanced by the erosion of civil liberties in the name of imagined security.

Sure it is. Our liberties are what make us. If we continue on this path of eroding them, it will literally destroy America, which is what the terrorists want.

We so often defend liberty without explaining why it is that we do, because it was so well established so long ago that freedom is superior to the alternative, but we do so at the risk of forgetting the why. Liberty is the right to question and challenge the government, which absolutely necessary to prevent corruption and tyranny. Privacy allows dissenters to build a movement without the knowledge of those who would suppress it. The evils these rights are designed to prevent are very real. Take them away and you open Pandora's box, and it becomes only a matter of time before those evils manifest. A despot will destroy his country in ways that a terrorist can only dream.

Re:as said before here many times (5, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148880)

Right, but I think you're missing the point.

"The terrorists" are not some chaotic evil cartoon villains. They have goals and aspirations. They have a vision of the future where they've "won", however unrealistic and unlikely that vision happens to be. Those visions are not of a totalitarian state replacing the United States. If anything, that outcome is worse for them than what they have now (after all, an Orwellian state might break out the nukes in response to a terror attack), and they're probably capable of figuring this out on their own.

There is not, and has never been, a meeting of terrorist leaders where they schemed to destroy your civil liberties by scaring you into implementing dictatorial "security" measures. How idiotic a plan would that be? "Oh gee, lets terrorize them until they go Orwellian, that'll show those western devils!" Nobody outside of fiction goes to such lengths to accomplish so little to their own benefit.

You're "the enemy" to them regardless of whether you're free or not.

Re:as said before here many times (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148784)

Yeah, it should really go "if we do X, we lose". But I'm afraid people like catchy jargons much more than well thought-out statements, and mentioning "the terrorists" is very trendy. Look at political discourse not only in the US, but pretty much everywhere. Plus most people seem to breathe sports metaphors. "Terrorists winning" is bad only because people automatically think that they will lose, that there are only two teams and one winner. And you do whatever it takes to win. Consequences are not that important because once the game is over, it's over, right? And we won! Fuck yeah! Makes me think if this culture that embraces and glorifies competition (much more pronounced in the US, I don't know if due to all that old capitalism vs communism propaganda) may not be hurting people's ability to think.

Re:as said before here many times (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148926)

The "if we let the terrorists make us change our society, we lose" line of thinking is much more sound than "if we give up our freedoms, they win".

And you're dead right that there's this sports mentality that says if one side has lost, clearly the other has won. Obviously, that isn't true in real life, but they myth is still pervasive. A good counter argument to keep handy for it is to ask who the "winner" is in a nuclear war, when either side has lost.

But it bears repeating that it works both ways. The terrorists don't gain anything when the US loses its civil liberties to hysteria. One side gains nothing, and the other loses something precious.

Iraq War Wasn't bin Laden's Fault (5, Interesting)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148756)

Yes, you can blame the WTC and Clinton's cruise missile attacks and to some extent even the Afghanistan* War on bin Laden, but the article also blames him for the costs of Bush's Iraq War, which had nothing to do with him and which cost a lot more than Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein was the kind of corrupt secular dictator bin Laden hated, and American troops based in the Holy Land (that's Saudi Arabia, in this case) were one of the things bin Laden got most upset about.

Bush may have used bin Laden as an excuse, along with "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and "Saddam tried to kill my daddy after my daddy tried to kill Saddam", but the Pentagon was planning the Iraq War from the first week Bush got into office. (See Bamford's book "A Pretext for War" for more details - Cheney, Condi Rice, Rumsfeld, and Cheney's neo-con buddies were all at those early planning meetings. And Iraq was a logical target since Bush 41's war had never really been finished, so the Pentagon should have been doing at least some planning in case the politicians wanted to finish the war.)

* And even the Afghanistan War was mostly an attempt to impose a non-Taliban winner onto the civil war that the Taliban had mostly won, and while they were permitting bin Laden to operate in their country, bombing the place in response to 9/11 was a bit like the Brits bombing the Irish parts of Boston and San Francisco after an IRA bombing in London.

Re:Iraq War Wasn't bin Laden's Fault (2)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148870)

While its true Bush;'s cronies wanted to go into Iraq from the get go, they sold the idea to Bush because Bush wanted to attack a second country to demonstrate the we were serious about the war on terror, Bush didn't actually give a shit about Iraq himself, despite all the psychobabble about him wanting to follow in his fathers footsteps.

We Won't Negotiate With Terrorists (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148490)

But we'll spend trillions of dollars and radically change our society to 'deal' with them.

If We Hadn't Had Terrorists, We'd Have Invented... (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148648)

The Bush Administration really wanted to have enemies so they could have wars. Bin Laden was useful, but the Afghanistan War did get in the way of the Iraq War that the Pentagon had been planning since Bush got into office. And all that Patriot Act stuff got put together in a surprising hurry - you'd think the FBI and NSA had been planning to keep proposing power-grabbing rules even before the terrorists got there (pay no attention to that Louis Freeh behind the curtain...)

Terrorists were really convenient, and since the Feds had been trying to scare the public about terrorists with anthrax since at least the second half of the Clinton Administration, it was especially convenient that they used some of that.

(I'm not one of those 9/11 Truther Conspiracy Nuts - I think this was mostly opportunism on the parts of the military-industrial complex folks and the surveillance-state folks who got a chance to do the things they'd been telling us all along they wanted to do. Bush and Cheney got elected as tough-guy militarists, after all, and you don't expect them not to have wanted to help the FBI/NSA eavesdropping types.)

Re:If We Hadn't Had Terrorists, We'd Have Invented (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148820)

he Bush Administration really wanted to have enemies so they could have wars.

That is a cornerstone of neo-con philosophy, but it is for extremist muslims as well. The philosophies of Leo Strauss and Sayyid Qutb are more alike than they are different.

Re:If We Hadn't Had Terrorists, We'd Have Invented (1, Insightful)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148894)

The Bush Administration really wanted to have enemies so they could have wars.

Um, you may have missed it, but Bush isn't President anymore. It's Obama now - the guy who you rubes thought would end all these wars and such.

Re:If We Hadn't Had Terrorists, We'd Have Invented (3, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148944)

The Bush Administration really wanted to have enemies so they could have wars.

Um, you may have missed it, but Bush isn't President anymore. It's Obama now - the guy who you rubes thought would end all these wars and such.

Ah yes... dunno why he hasn't. I've seen all the magical and seemingly impossible things that "The Easy Button" can do while watching all those Staples commercials.

Social Security et. al. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148492)

http://files.blog-city.com/files/A05/141484/p/f/wikipedia_fy2009_pie_chart.jpg

The "War on Terror" is nothing compared to the amount of money spent buying votes from the peasants.

Re:Social Security et. al. (2)

MimeticLie (1866406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148574)

Yeah, why should the government use tax money to help its citizens? Obviously government's function is to piss it away blowing people up overseas.

Re:Social Security et. al. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148602)

If the government didn't spend money on social services they would be able to lower taxes on everything, decreasing the cost of living and improving the quality of life for the citizens. When you take money from people and give it to others that is thievery. Or as it was known in the USSR, communism.

Re:Social Security et. al. (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148794)

If the government didn't spend money on social services they would be able to barely balance the budget

FTFY.

Re:Social Security et. al. (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148686)

Pyramid schemes are helping citizens now? Social Security is dependent on there being more current "investors" to pay off the previous ones. The previous investors are now comparatively more numerous and demanding more payments (thanks to medical technology increasing life spans). Better would be simply taking the SS tax money and putting it in a vault somewhere, accessible upon retirement and paid on a fixed schedule.

Re:Social Security et. al. (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148906)

Social security is also dependent on the taxpayers paying back all of the IOUs that have been written when government took money from the funds to pay for other projects. But that is often neglected when the government wants to funnel more of your money into large corporations. The government, the banks, and wall street all know that in order for the bubble to continue long enough to get rich, they have to keep feeding the monster. Social security is not the pyramid scheme here, the US version of capitalism is the pyramid scheme.

I wonder if he really said that... (4, Informative)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148496)

he'd be pretty dumb if he did. Seriously. The wars have mostly been a money grab for Halliburton and co, which suits the American Corporate ruling class just fine. Hell, fear of terrorists has set back the labor movement in the US 100 years, again, good for the sort of folk that have been in favor of meddling in the Middle East for years. Plus the wars are helping to keep these people in power. 9/11 was the best thing that could happen to global corporations. People stopped asking why their wages are falling and started cringing in fear of all them tarrafyin' tarrarists.

And of course, who could for get the Best. Chart. Ever. [nationaljournal.com] Thanks Bush. It's amazing how much damage one administration can do in such a short time when you let 'em do whatever the heck they want...

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (1, Informative)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148626)

You mean like giving trillions to failed banks during the first month in office, oops that was Obama.

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (2)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148638)

Because the banks got that way in the first few months and weren't already fail cascading prior to Obama's election.

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148680)

No, it wasn't Obambie.. it was Clinton's admin that caused the failed housing market crash, and later during the end of the Bush years, the congress... if you want to start passing blame here...

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148964)

why stop passing it there. I mean, if I take enough hits on the bong, I'll run it through reagan, carter, nixon, lbj, jfk, ike, washington.

As much as I'd like to say 'wow, that Clinton guy was really powerful'; no. 8 years in power is well beyond the passing the buck nonsense.

I do sympathise - after decades of astronomical deficit growth, that short island of fiscal responsibility under Clinton must really grate on some. How high was Rayguns stack of dollar bills before GWB? And After?

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149010)

And by arguing back and forth amongst yourselves you are doing exactly what they want you to do...squabbling and mentally masturbating while not punishing those responsible - The Executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the U.S. Government. They are all equally crooked and will stop at nothing to appease their corporate masters du jour. The military industrial complex fattening off of the carcasses of your dead first-born sons. The MAFIAAs. The private healthcare providers who suddenly drop your cancer-afflicted daughter from coverage because she was 2 pounds less then she said she was the last weigh-in, while the government still makes you pay them for your own coverage.

The U.S. government and their bought-off propaganda machines are turning you against each other while profiting off of you both. Sad. So sad. Methinks it's torch and pitchfork time.

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148952)

exactly, you see the republicans only do this during the last few months in office, while the democrats do it in the first few. That's exactly why we hate republicans.

Captcha taxonomy

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148702)

You mean like giving trillions to failed banks during the first month in office, oops that was Obama.

TARP was passed during the Bush administration.

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148716)

Hi. The TARP bailout was signed by Bush. It's pretty telling that people pin that on Obama. And I don't fault Bush either. A large portion of the bailout for banks has been repaid. Seriously, people.

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148852)

that was literally campaigned for by Obama and voted for by him. Remember, before he was President, Obama was a Senator, well, when he wasn't outside DC campaigning anyway.

Obama stinks just as much as GWB on TARP, the bailouts, etc. They were some of the few votes in his career that he didn't vote "present" on.

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (2)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148942)

And McCain wanted to postpone presidential debates so it could be passed quicker. If you think that anyone in Washington put up any serious fight against TARP, you are mistaken.

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (1)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148932)

You mean like giving trillions to failed banks during the first month in office

I'm fairly certain the Federal Reserve did that, which neither Congress nor the executive have control over.

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148642)

nonsense. a hundred years ago, strikers were regularly shot. you, like the article, are giving osama too much credit; the only difference is that you claim to differentiate between elites and plebes, whereas it was really all the same to ObL.

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (1)

MimeticLie (1866406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148674)

Why are you so sure that it's the American Corporate ruling class that's making money off the wars? Halliburton et al. have made a mint, unquestionably, but foreign firms (some of which are Iraqi/Afghani, some of which are not) have been getting tons of money as well, not to mention the money that has just "disappeared". Allison Stanger's new book [amazon.com] does a good job talking about the contractor culture we have now. The wars would have cost a ton even if the US military had been doing it themselves, but instead they've contracted out massive amounts of work to avoid having to start a draft. But the bottom line is that even if some people are profiting, the country is taking a massive loss.

Re:I wonder if he really said that... (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148920)

Halliburton is a foreign firm too, they moved out to avoid paying taxes.

Yay we "won" (5, Insightful)

goodgod43 (1993368) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148504)

at what cost? Now we all live in fear. For our jobs. For our privacy, and of each other.

Re:Yay we "won" (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148682)

Really? Do you really live in fear? Because I sure don't. Life is great! I have a freezer full of ice cream, what more can I ask for?

Re:Yay we "won" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148994)

But are you sure terrorists didn't put anthrax in those ice creams?
All it takes is an Al Qaeda sleeper agent working in an ice cream factory and the knowledge that American's only weaknesses are junk food and treats.

Re:Yay we "won" (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149002)

you are.. shakes eight ball.... INSIPID. next!

Re:Yay we "won" (1)

meridian (16189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148934)

Fear of our privacy? Privacy is gone already, for some unlucky few completely. Tried posting this up at http://www.infowars.com/beware-lone-wolves-in-aftermath-of-bin-laden-killing-advisory-says/ [infowars.com] where a few others were mentioning they are aware of remote neural monitoring. Unfortunately it is real and affect more and more people.
The best description of what it is like I have found here: http://www.mindjustice.org/2003_survey.htm [mindjustice.org]
Start from “Reported mind control symptoms and descriptions include”
I will paste snips below for your enjoyment (ones that I personal identify with strongly):

Victims are subjected to various kinds of harassment and torture, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for years on end.

Sometimes victims describe seeing the images of projected holograms. Thoughts can be read. Most victims describe a phenomenon they call “street theater.”

Note: for me street theatre only happened at the start to make me convinced everyone knew I was this person like that dumb movie where everyone watches your life. Took me some time to figure out the truth.

Implanted thoughts and visions are common.

Note: this is only happening to me recently, but I find these easy to identify and they only happen when I am in bed at home (in a place easy for them to control my surroundings)

Microwave hearing, known to be an unclassified military capability of creating voices in the head, is regularly reported.

Wrenching of house/building structures cause loud snapping or crackling noises, often heard at precisely the point where a victim is starting to doze off to sleep.

Note: used to stop you getting sleep or wake you up to limit your sleep and the main mode of torment they use on you once you realise what is going on and can somewhat defend your self mentally from the other attacks

Victims regularly report many types of bizarre and harassive remote manipulation of electrical equipment, phone, car, TV, and computers.

Note: I’ve found it takes them around 2 weeks to make a new modified version of any electronics I buy that assist me in trying to prove they are doing this unless I carry them on me 24 hours a day (such as mp3 player to play soft music while i sleep and a second to record any strange noises)

Hard to believe I know. Consider that the technology you see mostly is what is cheap enough to be consumerable... and that the secret state is somewhere from 10 to 25 years ahead of "known" science in these fields...

Reward (1)

Doodlesmcpooh (1981178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148510)

If they had offered a 1 trillion dollar reward for him we would have had him 10 years ago and saved 2 trillion. Wouldn't actually happen because most of that 3 trillion went to companies that the politicians have interests in.

Clinton offered a Reward for Osama (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148670)

It was a few million dollars, though I think he raised it to $25m, and he did spend about that much on the cruise missile attacks on the camps in Afghanistan and the medical factory in Sudan.

And Bush didn't have to drop the war effort in Afghanistan just because he had a political opportunity to attack Iraq, but he and Rumsfeld were hardly competent. And so what if Osama got away, that would just mean we'd have a permanent excuse to continue the wars.

Bin Laden was right (3, Insightful)

bsharp8256 (1372285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148512)

Because we must follow the rules of war, our costs/losses are going to be exponentially higher. If we waged total war and took no prisoners we would be out of there by now. If Al-Qaida fought "fair" we would be out of there by now. A smaller, more flexible (as in morals/tactics--suicide bombings, hiding behind civilians, etc.) force such as Al-Qaida could bleed any military force dry as long as incoming resources replace those which are lost.
Hold your Troll/Flamebait mods, I'm not advocating we do away with the treaties that restrict us, I'm merely stating a fact. The face of war has changed and conventional warfare is a thing of the past.

Re:Bin Laden was right (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148640)

Guerrilla is actually as old as army occupation. Machiavelli already said that it was dumb to try to hold a city solely with armed forces because all it did was create unease and spark a difficult conflict, much less straightforward than war.

Re:Bin Laden was right (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148736)

I know, right? We should become indiscriminate mass murderers in order to combat mass murderers. I'm sure the combined response of the world wouldn't put a damper on our genocide in order to defeat one band of people who killed less Americans than cars do in this country. It would certainly not raise tensions in Islamic countries, who would never think that indiscriminate slaughter of their co-religionists is a cause worth fighting against. They don't have a history of flocking to defend a country they think is being taken over by a group they think is out to destroy their religion.

Re:Bin Laden was right (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148768)

You're not stating a fact, you're stating a dream.

It's a dream, because you assume that if America used a different strategy to conduct its war, then the opponents would still be using the old strategy in return, therefore America would win more easily.

In reality, if America used a different strategy then so would its opponents, leading to a completely different game.

Try playing chess sometime. You can't win the game by pretending that the opponent is still playing yesterday's moves when you make a different opening move.

Re:Bin Laden was right (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148808)

What, because the Russians did so well with that kind of strategy? Nobody wins in Afghanistan.

Re:Bin Laden was right (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148998)

Soviet Union actually did pretty well in Afghanistan. The problem was that US was supplying the rebels with some fairly advanced weaponry (notably, Stingers) which were very well suited for that tactic, and even more so the fact that USSR itself was slowly crumbling, to the point where it couldn't really afford waging wars with long-term objectives.

Make that *one* war. (0)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148530)

The other was a recreational option on our part.

I suppose we could (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148532)

Just let rogue nation states and terrorist organizations crash our own jetliners into civilian buildings and use foul language in return.If we had only just turned the otehr cheek I am sure OPEC would have felt so bad they would even now be lowering the cost of oil.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Thomas Jefferson

You unpatriotic clod! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148536)

3 trillion dollars don't matter if you have money printing machines.

If Bin Laden hadn't existed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148538)

Even if there were no Bin Laden, terrorism and Islamic extremism had been rampant on the planet. The US had to fight anyway, although against a different terrorist leader.

Re:If Bin Laden hadn't existed (0)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148614)

If there was no Bin Laden, it would have been necessary for the GOP to invent him.

Re:If Bin Laden hadn't existed (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148796)

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

Isn't this how the USSR ended? (4, Interesting)

cyberjock1980 (1131059) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148542)

Does anyone else see this as being very similar to how the USA beat the USSR?

We forced the USSR to spend themselves out of existence. The terrorists are now playing our own game, except against us. Unfortunately, I fear how this will end for the USA if we don't figure out that we can't win this game without changing the rules.

Re:Isn't this how the USSR ended? (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148826)

Irony is cruel, isn't it? The only amazing thing is that our government has remained so oblivious to it.

Along with cutting taxes on the wealthy in wartime, it plays well with the GOP's ongoing "Starve the Beast" strategy...

Re:Isn't this how the USSR ended? (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148978)

Irony is cruel, isn't it? The only amazing thing is that our government has remained so oblivious to it.

Along with cutting taxes on the wealthy in wartime, it plays well with the GOP's ongoing "Starve the Beast" strategy...

I prefer calling it karma... but your way works as well. ;-)

Re:Isn't this how the USSR ended? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148860)

We didn't force them to spend themselves out of existence, that's self-congratulatory claptrap. The truth is, communism just doesn't work very well.

Re:Isn't this how the USSR ended? (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#36149008)

There's truth to both viewpoints. The Soviets felt a need to maintain a competitive military, at great expense. Simultaneously, they were trying to do it under a dysfunctional communist system. It was actually kind of quaint, the way the USSR stayed true to its ideals. Gorbachev wanted to do what China did. If he had succeeded, it might have been frighteningly different.

This is a problem? (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148566)

Two wars that continue to occupy 150,000 troops and tie up a quarter of our defense budget; a bloated homeland-security apparatus that has at times pushed the bounds of civil liberty; soaring oil prices partially attributable to the global war on bin Laden's terrorist network; and a chunk of our mounting national debt.

In other words, fantastic business for well-connected defense contractors. What, you thought they were going to sit back and make less money just because we defeated the only other global superpower?

In all seriousness, a couple of years ago I attended a meeting with a military organization that was created specifically to deal with the threat to US soldiers created by Improvised Explosive Devices. The purpose of the meeting? To sell them their own computer network.

A computer network in Iraq, or Afghanistan, where the IEDs tend to accumulate? Nope. Just another big installation in Washington DC, costing a fortune to the taxpayer, so an office full of remote staff can have their own redundant equipment and IT staff while the real work gets done overseas.

Cost of security but what did we gain? (2)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148578)

So out of the 145million people that filed taxes it cost us 21k each over 15 years.
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/10taxstatscard.pdf [irs.gov]

But think of all the innovation;
Remote controlled drones with missiles.
Armored K9's
Quiet Helicopters
Body Scans (would be nice if they could detect cancer or a tumor at least while i walk though)
um cannot really think of anything else we came up with for 3 trillion.

I think we got hosed on this deal.

Re:Cost of security but what did we gain? (3, Insightful)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148688)

There's a small amount of American's who have gotten incredibly rich off all of this as well.

I wonder if they are going to be assisting their fellow citizens in need of food, shelter & work in the coming years while they live off the profits of war.

More then likely though they will be on MTV's My Sweet 16th throwing a 100,000K party for their little angel instead.

Re:Cost of security but what did we gain? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148940)

No, they'll be moving to Dubai to avoid paying taxes.

Just Another Political Tyrade (5, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148580)

Ignore the terrorist. When the Russian airport was bombed some months back, people walked over the rubble and got on their connecting flights the same goddam day. Ignore them. And ignore the media, your friends and family, the government, the talk-show host, your teachers, and any other fool who says we need to fear. ignore the stupidity, but DONT GIVE UP. Attempt to have rational conversations. Get don't be polarizing. Be polite. Be honest. Use facts. Check them. If your wrong, admit. Do things the scientific way. Do things morally. Do things honestly.

We all die someday, its terrible. I am related to people who have been physically been harmed by extremist. And you know what. FUCK THE EXTREMIST. Who gives a shit! Its time our society collectively grabs its balls, puts in work, fires to dumbfucking politicians, and accepts collateral damage at being a successful capitalistic country. Yes there exist corporate corruption in the pockets of government. Yes we get screwed by this and that. But fight for what you believe in and research the facts and fuck all the bullshit. Next time you go out, have a conversation with somebody. Mention to them the falling intelligence levels of the country, the deficit spending, the ridiculous wars, the stupid bigotry. Make people see how ignorant and irrational the country as a whole is acting. If enough people talk about it, it will become the subconscious mind-set of the whole. Anything is better than this Lifetime movie induced coma culture suckling away at the 5'o'clock news and twitter and Facebook.

Last time I was at the DMV, an older gentlemen casually said to me "worlds' fallin to shit, ain't", I said yeah and this and that, and he said "so what is your generation doing about it?"

We don't need some stupid violent revolution or anything like that, but an evolution in the way we think about the sustainable of our race. If we are doomed to be Matrix like beings stuck in vats for our protection while some masters sit in a panoptican keeping everybody's nutrients levels up and fear levels low, well, lets go ahead and start that private space industry funding to Titan's moons.

As I say this I just finished a letter to my representative Jamie Boles (NC) regarding him balking at people having legally permitted concealed weapons in restaurants, and his stalling tactics in regards to HB1XX. Take a stand on what you feel is right, and let these fuckers know your watching them. We just have to stop talking amongst ourselves and start reaching out to others who aren't in our little mental circle jerk in all these forums.

For the TLDR crowd: longwinded guy says some political shit, herp derp nub aids

Re:Just Another Political Tyrade (3, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148698)

This is a country quick to fear and quick to act. I have zero fear of terrorist bombs when I'm on a plane. You have a better chance being raped by ET than dying in a terrorist attack on a plane. But, OBL made a great boogie man, and when we've got a political system set up to funnel tax revenue to Corporate America at the drop of a hat, you better believe they're going to keep people afraid.

Re:Just Another Political Tyrade (2)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148846)

You have a better chance being raped by ET than dying in a terrorist attack on a plane.

You bastard! You just gave the government reason to start checking anuses on trains and to bomb the moon!

Re:Just Another Political Tyrade (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148814)

Disclaimer: I am an American citizen, but my post applies to all the other countries in the world. I know you folks over in Austrailia, England, Germany, and other countries all continents abroad deal with this bull-shit. The sooner we make idiocy, stupidity, fear, corruption, and inhumane treatment of our fellow man the most ostracized and looked-down-upon behavior, the better the human race can (hopefully) become. Whatever your political system, fight within the laws of man and literally do unto others as you would have done to you. Aside from all the religious in-fighting and extremist zealotry, I am pretty sure that is what the core of most religions (except the Church of Scientology) are trying to get at. It's not about some 'can't we all just get along', but moreover, can't we all just stop fucking trying to kill each other over things that don't matter 200 years from now.

Re:Just Another Political Tyrade (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148918)

As I say this I just finished a letter to my representative Jamie Boles (NC) regarding him balking at people having legally permitted concealed weapons in restaurants, and his stalling tactics in regards to HB1XX. Take a stand on what you feel is right, and let these fuckers know your watching them. We just have to stop talking amongst ourselves and start reaching out to others who aren't in our little mental circle jerk in all these forums.

OK, I will. I don't want you or any other person to be carrying a gun in public. It's bad enough if you have one at home. Speaking of terrorist fear. Is the boogie man going to get you?

Drop in the bucket (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148592)

US economic output exceed $150 trillion dollars in the last 15 years. $3 trillion could have been better spent, but it's 2%. Current deficit spending will do far more damage to future generations than Bin Laden could ever hope for.

Re:Drop in the bucket (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148992)

See, your post will get ignored because it doesn't provide a chance to rail against the GOP or the previous Administration... You really must be new around here...

bin Laden: Mission Accomplished (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148604)

He's an evil fuck, but from a professional standpoint I have to admire how well he succeeded in his mission to hurt us, and most of it was psychological.

At least we were spared a pic of /him/ wearing a flight suit.

Gains (3, Insightful)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148620)

I once had to get my car repaired. After I was done, I was just in the same position I was in before the car broke down in the first place. I had paid money, and I had gained nothing!

Seriously, this is nonsense. Killing bin Laden isn't a gain over there being no bin Laden; it's a gain over him being there but staying alive and in charge. Wars are always expensive; we don't fight them because they produce gains, we fight them so that we can stay in the same place--it's a gain over not being able to stay in the same place, but wars always sucked, and they always will. And the article is really reaching to point out things like the economic boom caused by World War II. We didn't fight World War II to cause an economic boom, and not having one certainly wouldn't mean we shouldn't have fought it.

Re:Gains (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148718)

You really are misguided. Your country is in tatters and you just don't know it yet. Go overseas and return then you might get a taste of what's happening. Your home land security is a disgrace to humanity. Wise up. Next your internet is going to be totally controlled. The switch is almost in place. You are all being monitored night and day. So much for a free country, it sucks big time.

Re:Gains (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148958)

What do you mean my internet?

The switch will control the WORLDS internet.

I suggest you start kissing up to us American's now to save time.

Re:Gains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148752)

I once had to get my car repaired. After I was done, I was just in the same position I was in before the car broke down in the first place. I had paid money, and I had gained nothing!

you gained a working car.

Re:Gains (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148954)

For all practical purposes, bin Laden was a myth, and so is al-Qaeda. Yes, they existed, but not as the uber-powerful bogeymen they've been made out to be. In fact, we pretty much created their reality during and after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But as arch-villains they excel at frightening Americans and creating a hysterical demand for endless war, which we fight not to "defend our freedom" but rather because it is profitable, both politically and - for an influential few - financially.

Home of the Brave, indeed...

Perhaps we saved one hundred thousand lives (3, Interesting)

makubesu (1910402) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148624)

at the mere cost of 30 million dollars a head.

Contrarian Opinion (2, Insightful)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148660)

Those who know me personally or know my online record know that I'm one of the biggest deficit and debt hawks around, but I'll provide a contrarian opinion of sorts in this debate. It's not just the hunt for Bin Laden that cost us $3 trillion in this war on terrorism. If tracking down and eliminating Bin Laden was the only thing we spent that money and the rest of our treasure on (most importantly precious American lives), then that would be an unmitigated disaster. But it's obviously farcical and disingenuous to make that claim because killing Bin Laden wasn't the only accomplishment. We took away the safe haven Al Qaeda had in Afghanistan, and then, like it or lump it, we removed a vile dictator named Saddam Hussein and liberated Iraq. Now with the "Arab Spring" setting the Middle East ablaze, we have at least one marginal beachhead Arab state in a semi-stable, semi-functional, semi-democratic Iraq. It's also important to recognize that at the very least we have killed a lot of terrorists and would-be terrorist radicals who otherwise would have been left to plan attacks against us in the future.

Was it necessary to fight these wars? It's an arguable point. At the very least they weren't a total waste, but their efficacy, efficiency and opportunity costs can and should be examined. Did these wars do their part to massively increase our indebtedness? Absolutely they did, but not solely - they were coupled with out-of-control, unconstitutional Entitlements and bloated federal bureaucracies. (It must also be said that national security and national defense are responsibilities of the federal government under the Constitution, whereas the vast majority of Congress' other expenditures are unconstitutional and only permitted because of the post-FDR-New-Deal perversion of the Constitution that Americans have complacently allowed to remain and grow for 80 years.) But to paint the wars as caricatures, which is what is done when people say we spent $3 trillion killing Bin Laden, is at best satire and at worst historical revisionist propaganda.

Re:Contrarian Opinion (2)

Prune (557140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148898)

Deficit hawk? But why? Why should the US worry about debt eumerated in a currency of which it is the monopoly issuer?

Cause and Effect (2)

gaelfx (1111115) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148668)

This seems to be a very short-sighted view of the situation. While I don't necessarily feel that the spending on the wars or the "counter-terrorism" is the best use of that money, we can't reasonable expect to see noticeable effect in just 10 years time. These kinds of operations are meant to protect the long-term future of security, and they aren't only meant to help the US, they are meant to help the world. We can't look at a global operation and say "How much good has this done us?" We have to look at the bigger picture, and the truth is the bigger picture is still being developed. Much of the Middle-East is in turmoil at the moment, but turmoil always accompanies change, and we can't say whether or not those changes will be good for us until those changes are complete, or at least what might be reasonably viewed as complete. There's still a lot left to do.

Could've been a lot cheaper (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148676)

If the PNAC guys under Bush didn't decide 9/11 was their excuse to turn Iraq into a hegemony, to hell with the original villains.

This is why Osama is laughing from his grave (4, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148706)

All he wanted was to cripple us. And where he failed, we did it to ourselves. So ultimately, he won. When a suicide bomber walks into a populated area he knows he is going to die - he just hopes that he can take out at as many people as possible in the process.

Lets put these numbers into perspective:
Osama Bin Laden's estimated damage: $3 trillion
Bill Gates net worth: $56 billion
Apple's market capitalization: $308 billion
2010 stimulus bill: $787 billion

So Bin laden and the resulting spiral of stupidity did more economic damage to the US than Bill Gates + Apple + the economic stimulus put together. From Bin Laden's perspective, our loss is his gain. That means he died the wealthiest most powerful human being on the planet. All because he fooled America into it's own economic death spiral. History will look back on this time as a time when America nearly destroyed itself.

This is like one flea taking down the entire dog because it scratched itself to death.

Re:This is why Osama is laughing from his grave (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148726)

I didn't mean that Bill Gates + Apple harmed the US, I meant that his damage exceeded the gain from all these great people.

Re:This is why Osama is laughing from his grave (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148818)

no I agree they both did in their own special way =)

too positive (5, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148720)

If anything, Hugh Pickens' summary paints too rosy a picture.

The title, "The Cost of US Security," has the words "cost" and "security" in it.

"Security" implies that the US's four wars since 2001 (I count Pakistan as a war) have some positive correlation with US Security. If anything, they have decreased US security. The second Iraq war happened because Bush got Powell to go to the UN and tell them lies about how Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were a security threat. The Pakistan war involves our giving the Pakistani government lots of money so they can work hand in glove with terrorists. What exactly has the Afghanistan war accomplished, other than killing lots of young Americans and putting a corrupt Afghan government in power and allowing it to fake elections?

The word "cost," along with all the dollar figures, encourages us to measure the outcome in terms of money. The outcome should be measured in terms of the destruction of domestic civil liberties, crapping on the constitution, torturing people who didn't do anything wrong, crippling and killing teenage Americans, and killing innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Re:too positive (5, Informative)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148984)

Nah, security has improved.

They put locks on the cockpit doors. This was a great idea.

Unaccountable (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148762)

The amounts that were spent do not necessarily equal the costs.

Who knows spending 1% may have had the same effect.

S

Nothing to do with security. (1)

korgitser (1809018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148792)

The biggest problem of any modern military is getting rid of old weapons and equipment. The cheapest way to do that is a war.
The biggest problem of any modern democracy is justifying the existance of government. The easiest way to do that is by creating fear.
The actual threat from terrorism or bin Laden is not that big. The important thing here is that bin Laden was spinned as an argument to make war and seed fear, that is, as a means to an end. Now that Obama spent the bin Laden card on his re-election, i wonder what will the government put in it's place to avoid actually dealing with the real problems.

Liberals are the source of the costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148804)

Instead of just spending the money on some nukes to bomb the Taliban and other terrorists, we spend trillions of dollars because liberals bitches about "innocent" civilians. It's not a war with conventional armies like the past. Enemies do not wear uniforms. There aren't any innocent civilians in those areas. As the killing of Bin Laden has proven, even the government of Pakistan are not innocent. It's a war, when you tie the hands of the soldiers in the war, soldiers die. All of the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are on the heads of the liberals around the world. Terrorists only understand death, when they know that you will not kill them if they are caught, that only encourages them. Instead of just using conventional weapons, we spend millions on specialized weapons just to avoid collateral damage. That's where the cost of weapons and lives results from.

Yeah but (1)

w1nt3rmute (2165804) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148832)

Yeah but before you get all crazy about spending $3 trillion on Osama without any real reward, consider the cost-benefit of the credit crisis. It could possibly double the Osama number... how did most of you (and me) benefit from that cost? It may not have been a public policy decision, but it sure was a private-sector risk management decision made by all of the top US financial services companies. I sure didn't sell my house before the credit markets tanked, anticipating that - of the banks who were underwriting the bonds that were financing my mortgage - more than half would fail. But the financial structuring guys and the Wall Street traders all got paid (record years and record bonuses after the crisis happened). Public funds bailed them out afterwards, which is even worse, and now savings yields are nearly 0%. How is this really that much different? I may even feel better about spending $3 trillion on Osama... at least I got some satisfaction out of that event.

A more accurate argument/headline (2)

JakeD409 (740143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148844)

3 trillion dollars spent on matters that are in some way related to some subjects that may indirectly be connected to Bin Laden or people he has spoken to at least once in the past.

Bush is still laughing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148856)

title says it all

wtf! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148882)

yeah but what the hell has this got to do with Apple - c'mon slashdot!

Cost vs Value (1)

milgram (104453) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148900)

I understand the terms I will use could be viewed as callous, but I do not have better terms. My issue with the cost of the wars is not based in cost, but value. We have spent this much money, and neither our economic nor political standing has improved.

We seem to be fighting a war as if our enemy was the old USSR, when in fact our enemy is quite different. This type of conflict requires more human intelligence, and in country resources. As anyone in security knows, a static defense can be bypassed given time and effort. Does anyone really feel safer with Wal-Mart dropouts running the security at the airport? This is not where we should be putting our money, but it makes people feel better about security.

He's right (1)

gte275e (91656) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148910)

He's right when he said this: 'We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy,' said bin Laden, adding that that every dollar spent by al-Qaida in attacking the US has cost Washington $1m in economic fallout and military spending."

How would the economic outlook of the US (and by extension the world) economy be if 9/11 didn't happen? There wouldn't be a post-9/11 down fall obvious. How money would NOT have been spent on Afghanistan and then Iraq? How much money would be saved without formation of the DHS and the expansion of the TSA? How much money would have been saved if there was no PATRIOT Act? Money spent goes to to profit someone but for the average American, they face an improving but not terribly optimistic economic future from a country burdened with a rapidly expending national deficit that is not completely but definitely attributed to this "war" on terrorism.

The Cost of US Security (1)

jackie8612 (2071074) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148916)

You never realize what a great country we live in until you've gone to another country and had the ability to be able to make a an unbiased comparison. Not what you read or hear on the news, but determine on your own, just how valuable what we do here in America.

Who won the war on terrorism (1)

harrytuttle777 (1720146) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148946)

It wasn't the Islamic Fundamentalists, who who have a lot in common with the founders of the United States. It wasn't the United States as explained in the article.
However, China has been racking up economically while they finance our war on terror through the purchasing our our debt.

If I wanted to destroy an nation, getting it involved in an endless war on terror, while I Build up my economy would be a great way to go. This is what I would think if I did not have the main stream media to do my thinking for me and tell me it was Islamic terrorism that brought down the trade center.

I always believe the media because they have a crack team of impartial investigative journalists. (who are all investing in China)

Histamine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148956)

GWB's response to 9/11 was like a histamine reaction to a grain of pollen.

The other image that leaps to mind was the classic one of a mouse scaring an elephant. That one even lines up with the party symbol!

Analogies aside, Al Qaeda is nothing like the Soviet Union. There's no excuse for it to cost as much as it does to counter them. We should have revised cockpt access control policy, and sent special operators and a few thousand support troops to Afghanistan. We probably could have nailed Bin Laden before he escaped to Pakistan if it had been done right. Iraq never should have happened.

$3T and all I got was this dead old guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36148980)

I can has educashun next time?

My two cents (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148988)

It's too bad that Clinton didn't manage to kill Bin Laden back in the late 90s when he launched a cruise missile strike on Afghanistan. Reportedly, Bin Laden narrowly missed being at that location when the cruise missiles came in. (And, I still remember how all the foreign press went apeshit about how Clinton did the strike to distract everyone from the Lewinski affair. I thought the foreign press was a bunch of short-sighted parasites then, and I still think so today.)

"bin Laden cost the US at least $3 trillion over the past 15 years ... every dollar spent by al-Qaida in attacking the US has cost Washington $1m in economic fallout and military spending."
Really? Because that works out to al-Queda spending only 3 million dollars over the past fifteen years. I think that's a bullshit number. There's no way al-Queda spent only 3 million dollars for everything, including hiding Bin Laden for the past ten years.

WMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36149014)

bin Laden cost the US at least $3 trillion over the past 15 years

Wait. I thought we spent all that money to prevent Iraq from using their weapons of mass destruction on us; pre-emptive attack and all that. And we found the 9/11 mastermind, which was not Bin Laden.

Here's my prediction. Bin Laden doesn't matter. Someone else will take his place and be the figure foisted in our minds as the reason these wars must continue.

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