Cover price

Source: TOI on line

One of the consequences of 9/11 was that national security became big business. Just how much has this protective cover cost the American taxpayer? Figuring that out is not easy given the fog that surrounds US defense expenditure. But a citizens’ group called National Priorities Project has sifted through various US government records and come up with jaw-dropping numbers.

Since 2000, the base budget of the US department of defense totals up to a staggering $5.2 trillion, according to the NPP. From $303 billion in 2000, it rose to $545 billion in 2011. That’s an 80% jump. Even allowing for inflation, it is still a 44% increase.

That’s just the base budget. It does not include two important elements: the wars that Bush started in Iraq and Afghanistan, and US internal – or homeland – security.

The two wars are going to cost the US $1.36 trillion by September 30, according to NPP’s estimation. This includes $869 billion for Iraq and $488 billion for Afghanistan. Included in these estimates are interest payments, obligations to veterans, healthcare and pensions etc, which are binding and hence part of the real cost.

But it is the enormous spending on homeland security that is the least known. It is estimated to touch $636 billion this year, starting 2001. Before 9/11, there was no separate department looking after homeland security. In 2001, only $16 billion was spent on it. In 2012, it will cost an estimated $71.6 billion, according to the Project. Spending on homeland security is the most difficult to track as all of it is not routed through the department of homeland security (DHS). A notable portion goes through Pentagon and even the justice department.

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Categories: Americas

4 replies

  1. Well said Mr Rafiq; apart from being the greatest economist, he could well be given the award of the greatest strategist & general in the history of mankind for his said involvement in the 9/11 attack for someone sitting in the remote mountains of Afghanistan & masterminding & coordinating that without the basic necessary instruments ; what a feat indeed!!

  2. I think you both are missing the indepth quest of US to be in Iraq and Afganistan. These are minerals and geostrategic hold of the area. OBL or for that matter Sadam were just the excuses. Any way go ahead with awards or prizes.

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