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The Cost of US Security 456

Posted by Soulskill
from the yeah-but-we've-foiled-potential-shampoo-bombers dept.
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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The Cost of US Security

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:28PM (#36148482)

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

    • by RsG (809189) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:46PM (#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.

      • by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:08PM (#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.

        • by RsG (809189) on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:30PM (#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.

          • Well said. Unfortunately the Cartoon World is the one in which most of us live, so the moronic "they hate us for our freedom" narrative always gets good traction here.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ArcherB (796902)

              Well said. Unfortunately the Cartoon World is the one in which most of us live, so the moronic "they hate us for our freedom" narrative always gets good traction here.

              Actually, "they hate us for our freedom" is not too far from the truth. Everyone here is playing coy when talking about the goals of terrorists. Of course the terrorists don't care if TSA is feeling up our kids or the government is asking for ID to fly. That's not the freedom they are after.

              Sorry, but the goal of "terrorists" is an worldwide Caliphate, or Islamic state.

              So govern between the people by that which God has revealed (Islam), and follow not their vain desires, beware of them in case they seduce you from just some part of that which God has revealed to you
              —[Qur'an 004:049

              It's not our Bill of Rights that they hate, it's our freedom or religion and/or freedom FROM religion. It starts with wanting us out o

              • by Lundse (1036754) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @04:09AM (#36150778)

                All the retoric (from the terrorists themselves) aside, what they really hate is being fucked by the West.

                If Israeli rockets were not hitting housing blocks, if the US did not install dictators to give them a good price on oil, if we did not vilify them every step of they way, if they did not live squalid lives while we wallow in luxury based on their natural resources, etc. etc.

                Of course religion plays a role here. It functions as a rallying cry. And comfort in your desperation over the non-existent chances of any true success (world caliphate? noone believes that?) and necessary suicide tactics. But mostly, it plays the role of lumping all those disparate grievances together, so they seem to have been perpetrated on the same "us".

                The perfect solution is to go back thirty years and not kill and steal. In thirty years, someone will say the same about some new group out for revenge for the shit we are doing now. There is no solution now - but it is never too late to start thinking ahead...

                • by stdarg (456557)

                  All the retoric (from the terrorists themselves) aside, what they really hate is being fucked by the West.

                  Yes the poor billionaire Bin Laden family, awfully screwed by the evil West. Why do you buy into their schtick? Hasn't that theory of the downtrodden terrorist been pretty much discarded since --
                  1. Times Square bomber from an upper class Pakistani family with high level Air Force connections
                  2. The Underwear Bomber from one of the richest families in Nigeria, whose father was the chairman of a large bank
                  3. Major Nidal the well educated army psychiatrist
                  4. The 9/11 conspirators such as Mohammed Atta, son of a

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by buglista (1967502)
                Apart from all the non-Muslim terrorists like Shining Path, the Maoist rebels in India, LTTE (Tamil Tigers) as was, the continuity/real IRA, UVF, etc. Terrorists are not all Muslim; there was a viable IED found in a bus not too far from Dublin today.
              • by intheshelter (906917) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:17AM (#36152462)

                Oh bullshit. They didn't start all this because they wanted a Caliphate. That is utter crap. They hate us because we put American boots on the ground in their holy land. They hate us because we blindly support Israel. They hate us because we are constantly meddling in their region of the world where we don't belong.

                I'm not sympathetic to them, nor do I agree with their response, but US foreign policy has caused this hatred, not some desire for terrorists to take away our freedom. If we keep shitting on them then we shouldn't be surprised if more of them hate us and turn against us.

            • the moronic "they hate us for our freedom" narrative always gets good traction here.

              As it should.

              They do hate you for your freedom. The only mistake most people make is believing the haters are the bearded brown people on the other side of the world.

              Real freedom means being able to choose what you do all day and every day. That's something most wage-slaves dream about all their lives and if they're lucky, experience for a few brief twilight years of retirement. For a while there in the late '90s, after the fall of the iron curtain, people started talking about a "peace dividend". Prosperity was an expectation, and real incomes were high. In the west at least, many people were beginning to buy themselves out of their slavery earlier and earlier. Great for them, but a dangerous path for the capitalist economies.

              As we've seen in TFA, the USA has spent $3 trillion on the invasions, but money is conserved almost as surely as mass and energy. All of those trillions have gone from the American public to... somewhere. From the outside, it looks like an unwinnable war was chosen as the most efficient way to pump wealth from workers to private industry; arresting one extremist was just the marketing ploy.

            • by Livius (318358) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @03:04AM (#36150518)

              "they hate us for our freedom" is actually true.

              Specifically, the disgraceful and hypocritical double standard that Americans have about freedom and the effort they put into suppressing the freedom of others.

              So why is it that Americans think that freedoms are theirs and no-one else's?

            • by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @05:24AM (#36151160) Journal

              Well they do hate us for our freedom. Granted this was a European paper but remember the reaction when that carton of Mohammad was published? Also Bin Laden stated he objected to our culture and called us infidels. Maybe his immediate plans were for the middle east but Its short silly to think he would not impose an Islamist government on the entire world if he could have, and simply killed some other groups like Jewish people.

              So yes I do think the they hate our freedom narrative, while overly simplistic is not incorrect.

          • I understand what you're saying, but I don't think it's that simple. The terrorists full well know that the vast, overwhelming majority of the economic damage to us caused by a terrorist attack is our self-inflicted irrational response to it, and that includes adopting policies that promote corruption and autocracy.

            More importantly, it doesn't matter what the terrorists think will get them what they want, eroding liberties is the thing most likely to lead to them actually getting what they want.

          • ferment civil unrest in America, cause America to piss of many of it's allies and destabalise the political and economic foundation of the country.

            you ferment civil unrest and dissatisfaction when the government shits all over it's citizens rights.
            Torture camps and whisking away the citizens of other countries to those torture camps helps to strain americas relationship with it's allies.
            Finally the cost of wars and the cost of all the anti-terrorism measures fuck with the economic stability of the country.

            K

          • by AK Marc (707885)

            Those visions are not of a totalitarian state replacing the United States.

            Why not? We've shown that as a totalitarian state, we'd spend so much tracking our own citizens that we'd go bankrupt, which is one of their goals. We have plenty of people asserting that they'd sooner have another civil war than live in a totalitarian state (though they seem to politically be very much for totalitarianism, so I can't figure that one out - perhaps it's irrational nationalism).

            And even if it doesn't result in totalitarianism, the same things will do a good job of bankrupting the US from o

        • by wrook (134116)

          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.

          Pretty big generalizations there. I'm willing to bet that every terrorist group has significantly more specific goals than "destroy America". But if I join you in over simplification, I really think that what the terrorists want is for America to stop meddling in what they are doing. Unfortunately, they also believe that America will never stop meddling unless it loses a significant amount of power. The destruction of America is a means to an end, not an end itself.

          Now, we can argue until the cows come

        • by Risen888 (306092) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:22AM (#36149938)

          al Qaida doesn't want us to "erode our freedoms" or "literally destroy America." They want us out of the Middle East. Whatever you've heard, they don't hate us for our freedoms. They don't give a fuck about our freedoms.

        • by Livius (318358)

          The terrorist presumably do not care about the US becoming totalitarian, but they are likely quite pleased in general with the US engaging in paranoid self-destructive behaviour which is, with rare exceptions, ineffective at impeding the terrorists' actual goals.

      • 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 impo
        • by RsG (809189)

          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

      • As far as I can make out, the goal of Islamists to establish societies which follow Islam law. In the center of their effort are countries with a mostly Muslim population and secular governments. People in these countries have to decide how to live their lifes and what form of government they want. The western living style is perceived as attractive because it has always been associated with wealth, personal safety and personal liberties.

        In response to terrorist attacks, western countries are giving up what

    • by billstewart (78916) on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:08PM (#36148756) Journal

      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.

      • 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.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:30PM (#36148490) Homepage Journal

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

    • 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 convenien

      • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Trailer Trash (60756)

        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.

      • by Risen888 (306092)

        Bush and Cheney got elected as tough-guy militarists

        They absolutely did not. Bush ran in 2000 on a damn near isolationist foreign policy platform. "No more nation building," "No more Kosovos."

    • by jo42 (227475) on Monday May 16, 2011 @11:07PM (#36149108) Homepage

      There is no profit in peace. There will always be a (invented) bogeyman to carry on the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ war machine.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:32PM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rhook (943951)

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

      • by Dyinobal (1427207)
        Because the banks got that way in the first few months and weren't already fail cascading prior to Obama's election.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:02PM (#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.
      • by Ironchew (1069966)

        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.

  • Yay we "won" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goodgod43 (1993368) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:34PM (#36148504)
    at what cost? Now we all live in fear. For our jobs. For our privacy, and of each other.
  • by bsharp8256 (1372285) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:34PM (#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.
    • 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.
    • 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 thin

    • 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 di

    • What, because the Russians did so well with that kind of strategy? Nobody wins in Afghanistan.
    • by Beetle B. (516615) <beetle_b@ema[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @12:13AM (#36149518)

      Because we must follow the rules of war, our costs/losses are going to be exponentially higher.

      I don't recall those rules stating that you must go to war.

      Many countries go through worse and choose not to go to war.

      Perhaps Bin Laden didn't cost the US trillions. Perhaps the ego and vanity of a nation did.

    • The rules of engagement are not the cause of the mismatch - it's asymmetric standards for victory. The west can only win if there is near-perfect security. All that an opponent needs to do is to sew enough chaos to frustrate the population. Our error is not being too civilized, it's positioning ourselves to be responsible for territory that we cannot realisticly hope to secure.
  • by cyberjock1980 (1131059) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:37PM (#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.

    • 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...

    • by timeOday (582209)
      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.
    • by cbope (130292) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @02:09AM (#36150260)

      Wow, you better check your history. The USA certainly did not "beat" the USSR. The USSR collapsed, mostly from within. Why do you think it is referred to as the "collapse of the Soviet Union"?

      Now, you could say the USA outlasted the USSR and that would be factually correct, but saying the USA beat the USSR is factually inaccurate on so many levels.

      • Wow, you better check your history. The USA certainly did not "beat" the USSR. The USSR collapsed, mostly from within. Why do you think it is referred to as the "collapse of the Soviet Union"?

        While that is essentially true, it did happen to occur while the US was engaged in a strategy of encouraging that collapse. The USSR was headed for collapse and everybody saw it. Carter saw it and wanted to avoid such a thing because in such a case the USSR would have the choice of collapse or war. He turned down the c

  • 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 sup

  • by Rivalz (1431453) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:42PM (#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.

  • by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:42PM (#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
    • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:00PM (#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.

    • by cosm (1072588)
      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
    • 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?

      • by cosm (1072588)

        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?

        No, the crackheads that keep robbing houses will. What are you going to do when some jacked up mother fucker comes charging at you and your kids at 3am? Tell him to stop? Get real. The world is full of evil people that want to hurt you. The trick is to not be afraid of them, but to stand up to them when they do come. I could cower all day and have mommy government try and ban all the guns and knives in the world, but if somebody was going to murder you in the first place do you think they really give a shit

        • by Falconhell (1289630) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @12:35AM (#36149678) Journal

          You know what? I have never even seen a gun in public. The US has a fascination with violence and revenge.
          The reason you have such social problems is lack of a proper health care and Social security system.
          You wont be allowed to carry a gun here at all. I feel very sorry that you live in a place so dangerous, and violent you need to carry a gun.

          Face it the whole gun thing is, after ignoring the pathetic "reasons" overcompensation, just like the big SUV's.

          Still your absurd claims abut guns making anyone safer amuse the civilised world.

    • by shoemilk (1008173)
      Man, you had me right up to the end. I didn't want to post this here as it's rather off topic, but why do you feel that people need to carry concealed weapons in restaurants? There was a day in the past where people could carry them and it was outlawed for very sane reasons.
  • Drop in the bucket (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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.

    • What most people fail to understand is most of that money would have been spent on the military regardless. Might as well put them to use and get our money's worth, as some of my less tactful friends would say.

  • 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 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jiro (131519) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:48PM (#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.

    • 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 th

  • by makubesu (1910402) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:49PM (#36148624)
    at the mere cost of 30 million dollars a head.
    • Actually I doubt that you saved lives... Assuming that there would have been more successful terrorist attacks on the US without the wars... Then you might have exchanged American civilian lives for afghans civilian lives at a pretty horrible exchange rate (and at a fairly high price)...
  • Contrarian Opinion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Apple Acolyte (517892) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:54PM (#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.

    • by Prune (557140)
      Deficit hawk? But why? Why should the US worry about debt eumerated in a currency of which it is the monopoly issuer?
    • by nhtshot (198470) on Monday May 16, 2011 @11:49PM (#36149370) Homepage

      That's not a contrarian opinion. It's nothing but a collection of the usual bile.

      "vile dictator named Saddam Hussein"

      You do remember that we CREATED him? We (the US) put him in power and provided the weapons he used to fight against Iran, against his own people and eventually against us.

      I'm all for deficit reduction,et al.. But I really wonder when these self-declared "conservatives" will wake up and realize that all the preaching in the world isn't going to change anything. You can rail against "entitlement" programs and bureaucracies until you're blue in the face, but I guarantee you wouldn't want to live without them. Might I point out that the money we spent on Iraq is enough to permanently fix social security?

      I assume you're not old enough for Social Security, but I bet your parents are and claimed it. Since you're using your computer and posting to a website, you've benefited from the FCC and the DoEnergy. If you drove on any US highway or ridden on an airplane, you've benefited from the DOT. I assume you were educated in the US,probably attended college and probably used at least some amount of student loans to pay for it. You can thank the DoEducation for that.

      If you really want to change something, why don't you take the time to actually learn what all of these agencies do. Instead of being spoon fed by Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin, take the time to do the research. Then, you can make some intelligent arguments about how to improve the system. For all the rhetoric, the "conservative" movement is nothing more then the same old crap in a different wrapper. Reagan raided SS and filled it with bonds to finance his deficit spending. The Bush's both wanted to raid it entirely and give it to their wall-street buddies in the form of "private accounts." The only people that would have benefited from that are the investment bankers. I think we've given them enough handouts already.

      So, back to my original point: Unless you have a better proposal that's well thought-out and actually implementable, you have no standing.

      If all you can say is that we should do away with all of it, you've only demonstrated your own ignorance.

      • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @02:41AM (#36150416) Homepage

        It's funny how the same people who claim they don't have two quarters to scrape together when they hear that the citizens need health care and jobs can suddenly find an extra half a trillion to wage a war. Of course when the soldiers come home broken after the war, the funds promptly dry up again.

        They found plenty to bail out the banks, but can't seem to find any to bail out homeowners (even though that would have also bailed out the banks).

  • 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 th

  • 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.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:01PM (#36148706) Homepage

    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.

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

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

  • too positive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:02PM (#36148720) Homepage

    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.

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

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

    S

  • by JakeD409 (740143) on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:21PM (#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.
  • Small problem... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WaffleMonster (969671) on Monday May 16, 2011 @11:19PM (#36149168)

    Iraq had nothing to do with Osama.

  • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles DOT jones AT zen DOT co DOT uk> on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @02:14AM (#36150286)

    Irish dissidents are planning on attacking the UK mainland again, in the past many Irish Americans have helped fund them.

    So it would be nice if they didn't, in the UK we have to protect against Irish dissidents, Islamic extremists and we're in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya along side US forces.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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