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Point of view from the north end of North America

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by dhwbailey, May 13, 2011.

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  1. dhwbailey

    dhwbailey Member

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    The Toronto Star

    Olive: Osama bin Laden came close to achieving his goal of bankrupting the U.S.

    May 11, 2011

    David Olive

    It’s impossible with certainty to know how deeply Osama bin Laden reached into his pocket to finance the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. The consensus estimate is $500,000, or less than the current average house price in Vancouver.

    The estimated cost to the United States from its reaction to those attacks range from $4 trillion (U.S.) to $6 trillion, a “return on investment” unsurpassed in the annals of terrorism.

    And the Americans did this to themselves.

    Transfixed by the television images that morning, I kept thinking of The Day of The Jackal. What this called for was an intelligence operation to hunt down the perpetrators.

    Instead, America over-reacted, beyond Osama’s most ardent hopes.

    Osama’s goal was to bankrupt the U.S. In his earlier role in helping reverse the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Osama did his part in bankrupting that 73-year-old empire. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, scarcely three years after the chastened Soviets gave up their decade-long failed effort to “pacify” Afghanistan.

    “We are continuing this policy of bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy,” bin Laden said in a 2004 video dispatched to news outlets. Any hint of another al-Qaeda attack on U.S. assets at home or abroad, bin Laden was convinced, would “make generals there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations.”

    And that, sad to say, is a near letter-perfect description of what al-Qaeda in fact achieved.

    Osama represents more than anything a tremendous economic blow to the world’s lone superpower.

    In response to 9/11, the U.S. launched a counter-insurgency campaign at a cost of $1.4 trillion during the 2000s.

    Then-president George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security, the largest new government bureaucracy since the new Department of Defense in 1947.

    Homeland Security is a monster of inefficiency, as the Washington Post reported last year. It encompasses 1,271 distinct government agencies assigned to counter-terrorism functions (51 alone tracking terrorism financing). It generates about 50,000 intelligence reports a year for officials who don’t have time to read more than a fraction of them.

    The U.S. botched a post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, allowing Osama to escape in the battle of Tora Bora.

    America then hastily embarked on a botched invasion and occupation of Iraq – the worst U.S. foreign-policy blunder since Vietnam four decades earlier.

    Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate economist, and co-author Linda Bilmes, a lecturer at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, have calculated the costs of those two wars at as much as $6 trillion.

    Horrific as it was, the U.S. Civil War also ramped up America’s industrial revolution. World War II ended the Great Depression and brought unprecedented American domestic prosperity and global hegemony. The Cold War yielded advances in computer and satellite technology, a triumphant space race and the creation of the Internet.

    The positive legacy of reacting as America did to Osama has been unmanned Predator drones. And, as Osama predicted, a windfall for “private corporations” like Halliburton and Blackwater.

    U.S. defense spending soared by 50 per cent in the 2000s. The war and terrorism-fighting costs were borrowed. Taxes weren’t raised, as they had been in America’s previous major conflicts. Indeed, Bush stuck by the massive tax cuts early in his administration.

    Thus America squandered the “peace dividend” that it was beginning to reap after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Nation-building at home has been put on hold. The Washington consensus is that austerity measures to cope with a record deficit ($1.5 trillion) and debt ($14 trillion) are America’s chief priority. The country is, after all, heading toward insolvency, if Standard & Poor’s recent “negative outlook” forecast of America’s fiscal infirmity is to be believed.

    There have been terrorists since Caesar was murdered on the steps of the Senate. They have no real power, only a hope of terrorizing monarchs and presidents into committing their realms to fantastically expensive lost causes.

    Osama was tracked down and killed after many years of old-fashioned detective work. They’ll make a movie about it. It will follow the rough outlines of The Day of The Jackal.

    In the meantime, the U.S. has celebrated over Osama’s death a mere few days before the U.S. powers that be in Congress, 50 state houses and the media returned their attention to the nation’s dismal finances.

    Of the psychological boost from Osama’s demise, Michael O’Hanlon, a national security analyst at the Brookings Institution, told The Atlantic recently: “I take no great satisfaction in his death, because I’m still amazed at the devastation and how high a burden he placed on us.”
     
  2. Stl Flyn

    Stl Flyn Well-Known Member

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    Wow. Well said. My exact thoughts all along, and pretty much what I have been saying on these threads.

    I was going to say you are a genius, but that would make me sound conceded.

    Jon
     
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