But two months into the war on terrorism, we’re starting to get a sense of how little this war will actually cost. And it’s time to start asking some hard questions.
At the beginning of the week we learned that the war is currently costing around $1 billion per month. Oddly, this was reported as if it were a lot of money. But it’s only about half of 1 percent of the federal budget. In monetary terms, not only doesn’t this look like World War II, it looks trivial compared with the gulf war. No mystery there; how hard is it for a superpower to tip the balance in the civil war of a small, poor nation? At this rate, even five years of war on terrorism would cost only $60 billion…
So the budgetary cost of the war on terrorism, abroad and at home, looks like fairly small change. Even counting the measures that are likely to pass despite Mr. Bush’s threat, I have a hard time coming up with a total cost that exceeds $200 billion.