The man who executed the most brilliant leveraged bet in history is dead.
“We, alongside the mujahedeen,” Osama bin Laden was reported to have said in a speech delivered a few days before the 2004 presidential election, “bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw [from Afghanistan] in defeat…
“So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.”
Al-Qaida pulled off the Sept. 11 attacks for somewhere in the vicinity of $500,000, according to the final report of the 9/11 Commission.
By the end of fiscal 2011, the U.S. government will have spent $1.26 trillion fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Center for Defense Information. A total equal to nearly 9% of the national debt.
“Every dollar of al-Qaida defeated a million dollars, by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs,” bin Laden added in his 2004 speech.
We don’t know if Allah really gave his permission or not. But he certainly had plenty of help from eager participants across the West. Based on the figures above, bin Laden pulled off a 2,514,000:1 return. And that’s just versus U.S. interests.
When you figure in costs beyond direct war, the number is incalculable. Throw in the post-9/11 homeland security bureaucracy, for example, or the covert wars in Yemen and Somalia, future health care costs for wounded veterans, interest on the portion of the national debt that can be attributed to these costs…
Makes you wonder why those students from George Washington University were cheering in front of the White House:
Land of the (somewhat less) Free: Party now, pay later…
Nor does it mean that just because the bad guy’s dead the spending stops, the troops come home and the TSA is disbanded.
Far from it.
This morning, the State Department warned of “enhanced potential for anti-American violence” worldwide. Security’s been beefed up at the New York airports.
And so… bin Laden’s leveraged gains keep piling ever higher.