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. – The Atlantic
Dominant Social Theme: Was it worth it? Not particularly? We need a more effective way to pursue the war on terror.
Free-Market Analysis: The Atlantic Magazine has published a remarkable article totaling up the cost of fighting bin Laden and pursuing the war on terror. Total dollars: US$3 trillion. Given the perilous state of Western finance, this amount of money reveals not the West's determination to fight for its rapidly vanishing "freedoms" but the utter contempt in which the Anglosphere's great banking families hold Western solvency.
It is far more important to pursue an illusory foe in an apparently made-up war than to create a prosperous civil society. The real war, evidently and obviously, is between the West's middle classes (now suffering through the agonies of austerity) and the Anglo-American banking elites.
But lest we sound too extreme (is this a real danger?) let us hasten to explain one more time the genesis of the war on terror, the creation of bin Laden and why the US$3 trillion sums up in hard dollars the contempt of Anglosphere elites for the Western masses that they purport to lead.
It is an important exercise in our view given the blanket coverage (around the world) of bin Laden's supposed death. We must begin long ago with the Soviet Union and its invasion of Afghanistan. But let us go back even further and remind our viewers and prescient feedbackers that even the USSR was in part a creation of Anglosphere elites which protected Red Communist leaders and funded their victory over the White Russians. In other words the Soviet Union was a creation at least partially of the Anglosphere elites. Keep that in mind.
Now fast forward to the somewhat inexplicable decision of the Russians to invade Afghanistan and the West's subsequent decision to encourage a local insurgency to fight against the USSR's invasion. To this end, the CIA and other Western intel forces created and funded a local group of Middle Eastern fighters that after the war were to be re-identified as "Al Qaeda," also known as the "foundation" (Arabic translation) and sometimes referred to as "the list." Not only did the CIA help fund and train this group, it also apparently helped ensure that Osama bin Laden – the scion of a wealthy Saudi construction family with close ties to the Bush family – would gain leadership of the group, supposedly because of the great fortune of US$300 million he had inherited from his family.
Osama, who apparently toured the US in the 1990s as a CIA asset known as Tim Osman, was formally identified as the head of this radical Islamic faction (Al Qaeda) in the later 1990s. This was important because bin Laden was supposedly dying of Marfan's disease, which is genetic and affects the joints and heart and in his case the kidneys. He needed constant dialysis and is said to have died peacefully in a French hospital in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Alternatively, he is said to have been assassinated in 2003.
This did not deter Western intelligence agencies, which apparently kept him alive (metaphorically anyway) and ultimately blamed him for 9/11. Who or what actually was responsible for 9/11 remains an open question (as the US government refuses to investigate further) but the chances that it was either bin Laden or Al Qaeda seem increasingly remote as a historic perspective is gained of the events surrounding 9/11.
Perhaps it was a radicalized, fundamentalist Islamic faction – the kind of blowblack that the CIA is famous for creating either on purpose or by mistake. But anyone who examines the life and apparent death of bin Laden with an open-mind (given the plethora of information on the Internet) would be hard pressed to believe that someone in his condition would have survived in good condition, without amputations or mental incompetency, through to 2011.
Thus we see, as others in the alternative news community have observed, that a false-history has likely been prepared – one that provides book ends to a decade-long military narrative. There are yet a good many questions as to who carried out the initial 9/11 attacks and how (especially given that bin Laden's great, modernized caves were never found in Tora Bora) and even more questions as to life, death and physical condition of bin Laden himself.
As to bin Laden's death in 2011 at the hands of American security forces, one can only marvel at the audacity of the presentation. There is no evidence that bin Laden lived out his life in the "compound" where he was supposedly shot; there is no body either as he was dumped at sea. There are no photos as they would be too gruesome to reveal, according to the US administration. The DNA tests that were said to be conducted actually took place in too short a time to be physically feasible.
There are of course home movies, but these have already been debunked by supposed "conspiratorial" sites such as those run by Alex Jones. All the images save one seem to be based on previously available images of bin Laden – and many of these are apparently demonstrably false as are the audio tapes he supposedly released throughout the past decade. There is one new image – or series of images – of an old man huddled in a robe looking at himself on a decrepit TV. But it is informative that the old man (bin Laden?) is only seen in profile, and the profile itself is not full on but is gained from a perspective – a camera angle – behind the left ear!
To sum up, there is not, apparently, one decent element of evidence that would even BEGIN to let an unbiased viewer believe that bin Laden was shot in Pakistan last week. Almost every single element of the bin Laden story does not seem to stand up to scrutiny. It is our considered bet that the great treasure trove of documents supposedly found on hard drives in this "safe house" will not produce new information than WikiLeaks has – another evident intelligence operation based on the principal of "limited hangout." (Alternatively, there were "terrorist" elements in the house, though no bin Laden, and it is possible that some useful information was obtained, but it is surely hard to winnow out what is truthful from what is not.)
Let us end by returning to the Atlantic article and its startling summation of cost. Certainly US$3 trillion, had it been spent correctly could have determined the true culprits of 9/11 and also established the actual narrative of the life and death of bin Laden. Instead, it has been spent invading two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, that are partially destroyed and fairly destabilized. Here is how the Atlantic puts it:
What we are left with, after bin Laden, is a lingering bill that was exacerbated by decisions made in a decade-long campaign against him. We borrowed money to finance the war on terrorism rather than diverting other national-security funding or raising taxes. We expanded combat operations to Iraq before stabilizing Afghanistan, which in turn led to the recent reescalation of the American commitment there. We tolerated an unsupervised national-security apparatus, allowing it to grow so inefficient that, as The Washington Post reported in a major investigation last year, 1,271 different government institutions are charged with counterterrorism missions (51 alone track terrorism financing), which produce some 50,000 intelligence reports each year, many of which are simply not read.
We have also shelled out billions of dollars in reconstruction funding and walking-around money for soldiers, with little idea of whether it has even helped foreigners, much less the United States; independent investigations suggest as much as $23 billion is unaccounted for in Iraq alone. "We can't account for where any of it goes – that's the great tragedy in all of this," Hellman says. "The Pentagon cannot now and has never passed an audit–and, to me, that's just criminal."
It's worth repeating that the actual cost of bin Laden's September 11 attacks was between $50 billion and $100 billion. That number could have been higher, says Adam Rose, coordinator for economics at the University of Southern California's National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, but for the resilience of the U.S. economy and the quick response of policymakers to inject liquidity and stimulate consumer spending. But the cost could also have been much lower, he says, if consumers hadn't paid a fear premium–shying away from air travel and tourism in the aftermath of the attacks. "Ironically," he says, "we as Americans had more to do with the bottom-line outcome than the terrorist attack itself, on both the positive side and the negative side."
The same is true of the nation's decision, for so many reasons, to spend at least $3 trillion responding to bin Laden's attacks. More than actual security, we bought a sense of action in the face of what felt like an existential threat. We staved off another attack on domestic soil. Our debt load was creeping up already, thanks to the early waves stages of baby-boomer retirements, but we also hastened a fiscal mess that has begun, in time, to fulfill bin Laden's vision of a bankrupt America. If left unchecked, our current rate of deficit spending would add $9 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. That's three Osamas, right there.
Although bin Laden is buried in the sea, other Islamist extremists are already vying to take his place. In time, new enemies, foreign and domestic, will rise to challenge America. What they will cost us, far more than we realize, is our choice.
This is surely a gloomy assessment and as we suggested at the beginning of this article it does far more to establish the contempt with which Western elites hold American and European middle classes than it does the determination of Western governments to successfully pursue a war on terror. Al Qaeda was at least in its initial terrorist stages partially a promotion of Western intelligence; bin Laden was the scion of a family with close business ties to the Bush family and apparently a CIA asset to boot; he was a very sick man a decade ago (at least) and the idea that he survived to 2011 is doubtful in the extreme.
There is no doubt the war on terror is a manipulated war. The Internet itself has challenged most of the dominant social themes of the Anglo-American power elite and left it increasingly puzzled as to how it can pursue its goal of world domination without the kind of total media control it enjoyed in the 20th century. The result of this puzzlement is predictable; war and more war. They did it 500 years ago when the Gutenberg press broke the elite stranglehold on information and they are doing it now, in our view.
For the elites, money does not matter. They control central banks around the world and can print as much money as they wish and fund whatever programs they wish to fund. (Though eventually economic and political considerations of nation-states wil take their toll.) The US$3 trillion drained from Western coffers to pursue illusory wars and phantom enemies is in fact a net-positive from the point of view of Western elites. With their fear-based promotions foundering, Money Power has increasingly fallen back on brute force and authoritarianism. And this means that the world itself must be thrown into chaos and poverty lest the middle classes look too closely at the false narrative being constructed around them.
This is the cost of the lies that are being told and the manipulation being promulgated. A cool US$3 trillion. Even the Soviet Union never spent money like that. For the Anglosphere elites, pursuing their program of world governance as they are, money is no object. We knew that. But the Atlantic has done us a favor by totaling up the sum.