Coward Old Universe…

by Jeremy G.

Posts Tagged ‘cost-benefit analysis’

9-11: Six Years On

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on September 9, 2007

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So much has been written on the subject.  Yet, what is remarkable about the event and the comments it has generated, is that whatever was written a little while ago is still relevant today.

The most significant of those comments is that, ironically enough, the U.S., which was attacked on 9-11, is paying today a heavy political price for those strikes.  I’ve offered here a methodology to assess how beneficial security spending since 9-11 has been at home here.  It seems that a cost-benefit analysis, based solely – by definition – on financial considerations, passes the test.  The same is certainly not true if political factors are included in the computation.  Hence this heavy political price.

One fundamental reason for this is that as a democracy, in a struggle with groups and countries with little consideration with principles related to liberty, the U.S. is not playing by the same rules.  The most recent and very cogent instance of this state of affairs was recently revealed by David Ignatius here: While Iran actively intervened in the January 2005 Elections in Iraq, the U.S. refused to adopt similar methods and did not back more moderate Iraqi politicians.  No American move to challenge Iran‘s $11 million challenge, although, as Ignatius reveals, the did provide some alternatives.

There is obviously nothing wrong with that choice.  There is also nothing wrong with the current criticism currently formulated against the Bush Administration for its poor handling of the post-Iraqi war.  There is something troublesome, though, with the way this criticism has been expressed.  It seems, at time, as if the only type of international violence that one can witness today emanates from the U.S., and that no one else is causing any harm.  Or, to use Mark Steyn’s words in his column today, as if there is no terrorism, only war.  

Moreover, this raises a paradox.  In a more extreme form, criticism against the Bush Administration put the emphasis on the Administration’s incompetence.  While there may be grounds to argue in favor of this thesis, the fact that the U.S. did not suffer any attack since 9-11 contradicts the very notion that this Administration is fully incompetent – luck as an explanation might be a bit of a stretch here.  But the paradox doesn’t stop here.  Steyn, in his column, raises the many contradictions of the most extreme form of criticism, expressed by conspiracy theories.  On the one hand, the Bush is very incompetent, but still smart enough to orchestrate, on its own soil, an operation like 9-11.  That’s an issue conspiracy theorists have not been able to solve yet.  Some even claim Bush rigged elections.  I would personally add, beyond Steyn‘s remarks, that interestingly enough, Bush failed to rig the last election of his mandate, that led to a Democratic landslide in Congress almost a year ago.  How weird.

I never cared for this systematic Bush bashing, caused, in my opinion, by a left lacking reason and a right lacking pragmatism.  Democrats would have dealt with this problem in a way that would have not been any different than Republicans – anybody remember the Clinton Administration‘s obsession with Saddam Hussein? Regime change was on the table as early as 1998.  Republicans have responded to the emergence of a new constellation of more pro-American leaders in Europe with a “So What?” that is as troubling as it is bewildering, given what is left to do today.

Six years on.  Same debates.  Little change.

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Posted in 9-11, Global War on Terror, US Foreign Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Benefits of the Global War on Terror

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on June 4, 2007

The latest terror plot recently uncovered could have been twice as worse as 9-11, according to some reports.  It also goes to show that, beyond the chronic instability in Iraq and in Afghanistan, the Global War on Terror is an ungrateful task: Failure leads to dreadful consequences whereas success allows for business as usual.

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This explains why a general assessment of the current Administration efforts to curb the terror threat on American soil is necessary, in order to evaluate the efficiency of security spending since 9-11

In the working paper available for download below, I offer a first crack at such an assessment, relying on a cost-benefit analysis and testimonies from the U.S. Intelligence Community in front of the Senate Select Committee on IntelligenceI find that if, between 2001 and 2006, the U.S. avoided at least one terror attack that would have caused 20% more damage than 9-11, then security expenditures pass the usual cost-benefit tests. 

The reasoning is still a little sketchy, and there is significant room for approval, especially in assessing the nature of the terror threat the U.S. has faced since 9-11.  That’s why I’m looking forward to any comments readers may have, and ideas or previous work to improve such an assessment.

Download Working Paper (.doc)

Posted in cost-benefit analysis, Global War on Terror | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »