The War on Terror is Bleeding the US Dry

There’s plenty of reason to wish President Barack Obama would take the successful execution of his Osama bin Laden targeting as the single win necessary to bring home the legions of US military forces scattered around the globe.

More than ever, the seemingly endless and boundary-less post-Osama War on Terror now appears devoid of concrete objectives. Certainly, Americans generally want US citizens to be safe at home and abroad, but at what cost to the nation?

Recently, the costs of the War on Terror were quantified in a Bloomberg article… including how it has produced:

  • An additional $14 billion in homeland security expenses in fiscal 2012 spending — costs specifically attributable to bin Laden — or roughly $125 billion in Pentagon spending excluding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
  • An increase in the US military’s ground force at a cost of $9 billion annually, again, fully inspired by bin Laden
  • A tripling of the budget for US intelligence agencies over the past 12 years, or an estimated $25 to $30 billion of annual intelligence spending that “can be laid at bin Laden’s feet”

The summary, according to Bloomberg:

“The U.S. government spent $2 trillion combating bin Laden over the past decade, more than 20 percent of the nation’s $9.68 trillion public debt. That money paid for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as additional military, intelligence and homeland security spending above pre-Sept. 11 trends, according to a Bloomberg analysis.

“This year alone, taxpayers are spending more than $45 billion in interest on the money borrowed to battle al-Qaeda, the analysis shows.

“The financial bleeding won’t stop with bin Laden’s demise. One of every four dollars in red ink the U.S. expects to incur in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 will result from $285 billion in annual spending triggered by the terrorist scion of a wealthy Saudi family.”

An equally negative cost is borne by Americans in the form of the “wartime atmosphere” that’s been created. The wartime zeitgeist has fast-tracked innumerable government programs with “unnecessary spending justified by claims of war-time need.”

These programs have more often than not trampled upon rights to privacy and other civil liberties that have long been sources of US pride.

The “wartime atmosphere” has had its role in bringing about:

  • 11,191 members of the U.S. military that have been wounded in the war in Afghanistan through May 2nd
  • 14,212 American records sought last year by investigators, or more than the previous two years combined
  • 1,579 requests federal officials filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2010 for electronic surveillance or physical searches, or “six requests each working day and 50 percent more than in 2001”
  • The desecration of public buildings, formerly intended as architectural achievements, that will now continue to resemble “fortified bunkers” both in the US and throughout the world
  • The transformation of Washington, DC, into a “garrison city bristling with metal barriers, stone bollards and closed-circuit cameras”

The President has yet to pull US forces from Iraq, instead, the US has entered new quasi-war conflicts in the Middle East, including Libya and elsewhere. The War on Terror has no end in sight, and continues to spawn innumerable mutant sidebars.

While hardly a true war, the War on Terror would stand to benefit from additional balance, perhaps a constrained or defined expense planned toward some reasonable objective, but rather seems to have decoupled from reality. No longer is there a mission with a clear or concrete goal to accomplish. Perhaps stability? Perhaps democratic government? Who knows for sure?

In all probability, these subjective standards will, financially speaking, bleed the US dry.

You can read more details on the financial consequences of the US War on Terror in Bloomberg’s coverage of how Osama bin Laden’s death won’t end his toll on US taxpayers.


Rocky Vega,
The Daily Reckoning