Hugh Pickens writes 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 United States 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. Considering that we've spent one-fifth of a year's gross domestic product--more than the entire 2008 budget of the United States government--responding to his 2001 attacks, he may have been onto something."
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