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Bin Laden’s Death Comes at a Price: Was It Worth It?

Daily Ticker

Mission accomplished! Osama Bin Laden is dead nearly ten years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. His demise has created an instant groundswell of renewed patriotism and pride across the U.S. However, if we look back over the last 10 years, it's evident Bin Laden's death has come at a huge price. The two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost the U.S. about $1.8 trillion and counting, plus over 4700 dead and more-than 43,000 wounded soldiers.

Here are some more staggering figures about the War on Terror, according to CNN:

  • The Department of Homeland Security has spent more than $424 billion since it's inception. Today it employs 216,000 people.
  • Nearly $72 billion will be spent on homeland security in 2012. (White House projections)
  • Defense spending has nearly doubled since 2001 to $700 billion in 2010, equaling 20% of the federal budget.

Has it been worth it?

Yes, says the Daily Ticker's Aaron Task and Yahoo! Finance economics editor Daniel Gross. "You look at that spending and say 'that's truly massive' but if you weigh that against what we have to lose: our ability to conduct trade, our ability to have tourism, our ability to have people moving around the country" than the answer is clear, Gross says. "If this or some fraction of this is the price of having trust in the logistical and transport systems that's something we're going to have to bare."

That's not to say all the money was necessary or even prudent but America has succeeded - even through two recessions and an economic crisis - to keep the American dream alive. True, anti-immigration sentiment grew and our standing in the world is different but Bin Laden has clearly failed to end American exceptionalism. On an economic front Bin Laden also failed to disrupt the global economy in any significant way as he has hoped. In attacking the World Trade Center, Bin Laden was aiming not only to bring down the buildings but to take down world trade as a whole.

Peace Dividend?

There is also the potential that Bin Laden's death and the winding down of the War in Iraq will curtail the spending spree, essentially act as a "peace dividend." There's also the chance, as Aaron Task mentions, the fact Bin Laden was apparently living comfortably in a Pakistani military town for years will raise tensions with the nuclear power and lead to a new front in the War on Terror.

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