The Pentagon says the occupation of Iraq is going to cost about $50 billion per year, indefinitely. That’s not counting reconstruction costs. Keeping Afghanistan safe for its warlords is now costing about $10 billion per year. Can you imagine how much safer a world we’d have today if we’d been willing to spend half that much on rebuilding the fragments of the Soviet Empire in the years just after 1989? Or how much a tenth of that, well spent, could do for human and economic development in Africa? Or how big a horselaugh you would get if you proposed spending anything like those sums on an activity that didn’t also include killing people?
I still think that the Iraq invasion was, on balance, probably better than the alternatives. I just wish that the people who call themselves “conservatives” were as willing to support non-military approaches to making the world safer and the inhabitants of poor countries less miserable as they are to support sending in the troops.
Oh, and speaking of cost-effectiveness analysis, what would it cost to produce and stockpile enough smallpox vaccine to inoculate the entire world population in case there is a bioterrorist attack?