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Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of the US War on Terror

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  • Gold, David

Abstract

In October of 2003, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrote a memo to his top advisers asking how we would know whether the US was winning the Global War on Terror. This question may have been mis-timed but it was perfectly appropriate. In this paper, I use the framework of cost-benefit analysis to identify some of the issues that would need to be addressed in order to answer Rumsfeld’s question. The most difficult issue is that there is no accepted definition as to what constitutes victory, or success, so there is no way to identify the ultimate benefits. Available evidence does suggest that while there are numerous identifiable sources of costs, it is far less clear where the benefits are located. The conclusion, necessarily qualitative in nature, is that the costs have been many and the benefits few.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 6932.

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Date of creation: Apr 2007
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:6932

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  1. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, . "Calculating Tragedy: Assessing the Costs of Terrorism," IEW - Working Papers 205, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Ohanian, Lee E, 1997. "The Macroeconomic Effects of War Finance in the United States: World War II and the Korean War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 23-40, March.
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