So how did they calculate how much the U.S. has spent because of Osama bin Laden? Among other things, they added up the costs of the two wars caused by Sept. 11, the cost of upping security after the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa and then the shear cost of damage resulting from 9/11 and the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.
The total? $3 trillion over the past 15 years. That compares to $4.4 trillion (in 2011 dollars) fighting Adolf Hitler, which the magazine says had plenty of economic benefit including ending the Great Depression. Timothy McVeigh, the National Journal reports, cost the U.S. $1.08 billion.
This fits nicely with a piece that Washington Post's Ezra Klein wrote earlier in the week. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counter terrorism expert, told Ezra that despite the fact that the U.S. didn't get close to say enacting sharia law, "bin Laden has been enormously successful."
And here's why:
Bin Laden, according to Gartenstein-Ross, had a strategy that we never bothered to understand, and thus that we never bothered to defend against. What he really wanted to do — and, more to the point, what he thought he could do — was bankrupt the United States of America. After all, he'd done the bankrupt-a-superpower thing before. And though it didn't quite work out this time, it worked a lot better than most of us, in this exultant moment, are willing to admit.