Ezra Klein in the Washington Post:
Has any single human being, either directly or indirectly, cost the United States more money than Osama bin Laden? Even a very partial, very haphazard, tallying of the costs from 9/11 reaches swiftly into the trillions of dollars. … Has any single individual even come close to costing America that much? Adolph Hitler is probably one of the few candidates
That reminds me of this link I posted in 2005, pointing out the cost of the Iraq War was in the region of $1.25 trillion. Professor Keith Hartley suggested that it would have been cheaper and quicker to have paid Saddam Hussein and his family a few billion dollars to go into exile.
However cheap (relatively speaking) such a deal would be, we know it would never be workable. Revolutions and regime change stem from the terrible treatment of citizens by their Government and Leader. These injustices can never be considered ‘corrected’ if the wrong-doers swan off into luxurious exile. Our sense of what is morally right – that tyrants and genocidaires should be brought to justice (or at least killed) – trumps pragmatic considerations. We have an inate belief that this approach is worth the continued sacrifice of our soliders, and the chaos and cost in the world economies. Breaking this understanding, via the sterile calculations of a Cost-Benefit analysis or Return on Investment figures, would ultimately lead to bigger wars.