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A Trillion Dollars Later, U.S. Kills Osama Bin Laden

Cara Palmer |
May 4, 2011 | 7:59 p.m. PDT

Staff Columnist

Scouts from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) in the Chowkay Valley, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army, Creative Commons)
Scouts from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) in the Chowkay Valley, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army, Creative Commons)
The United States has finally succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden, the most notorious man on the country's hit list. In this time of celebration we must remember this victory has a massive cost.

After September 11, 2001, the US plunged into a ten-year long series of wars.

Military spending has increased to unprecedented heights. We’ve spent 3 trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alternet, a non-profit Independent Media Institute, has “attempted to identify how much we have been spending – and how much we will, in the end, likely have to spend. The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions. A $3 trillion figure for the total cost strikes us as judicious, and probably errs on the low side. Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.

In order to afford this increase in military spending, which has caused most of the budgetary deficit, food stamp allocations for the poor have been cut, Medicare cuts for the elderly is being considered, and PBS and Planned Parenthood funding is being reconsidered, despite the fact that together, these programs constitute only about 15% of the federal budget. Other welfare programs and crucial government spending has also been cut. Spending on the infrastructure of the country has decreased substantially at a time when it is crumbling.

Taxes for the rich have once again decreased – the rich who own the companies responsible for the manufacture of munitions – leaving the burden of paying for the “War on Terror” largely on the taxes paid by the average American. Corporations making the most profits continue to pay little to no taxes, in spite of the obsession with decreasing the deficit. Many states, as a result, are also having difficulties balancing their budgets and are passing less money to local governments, which in turn must curtail local services.

These wars have, so far, cost the US the lives of approximately 5,000-6,000 soldiers. The number of wounded is astronomical, the care of whom will stretch the healthcare system of the US for many years.

They also cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghan and Iraqi civilians. This number doesn’t include the millions of citizens permanently displaced from their destroyed homes. Millions of civilians are dead or displaced because of the US assault on their homeland, all in the name of finding the members of one comparatively small group of people.

The countries in which those wars are being fought are destabilized, even more so than they were before the US invaded.

Another corrupt dictator, Hamid Karzai, has been put in place in Afghanistan by the US.

Sites of torture, namely Abu Ghraib, mark violations of UN resolutions concerning human rights and prisoners’ rights, and the actions of the soldiers against the prisoners there constitute war crimes, based on the Geneva Conventions. Freedoms in our own country as guaranteed by the constitution have been curbed. This begun in 2001 within weeks of the attacks by the passage of the Patriot Act. The death of Osama bin Laden came almost ten years after the military began its search while simultaneously crippling the countries in which it searched. Worth it? He was, after all, by the end, just a figurehead for Al Qaeda. Have we finally gotten our revenge for two destroyed buildings and 2,726 dead Americans?


Reach Staff Columnist Cara Palmer here or follow her on Twitter.



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