August 29, 2004

Cost Analysis Can't be One Sided

I just got through a Foreign Affairs analysis of GWOT costs and I can't understand how a supposedly serious magazine can be so myopic. Every choice, to become more engaged and fight the GWOT, to stay at home and readopt the law enforcement ethos of the Clinton and prior administrations, has a cost. The article counts the costs of the Bush path but does not provide any sense of what the potential costs are of not going down that road.

The cost of inaction is eventually the loss of a major city population in a large scale WMD attack. What is the cost in GDP, how much will the world go into convulsions after such an attack? While criticizing our present course as financially ruinous, not providing any cost comparisons makes the analysis useless for the mundane task of picking a policy to actually follow in future. It is quite likely that the US will be on a financial tightrope for the rest of my life, the rest of my children's lives as well. Technological inventiveness may come to our rescue but things are looking pretty grim no matter which policy we choose.

Foreign Affairs had an obligation to its readers to make it clear that there are no easy answers available, that all choices have very unpalatable financial costs attached. They failed that test of seriousness.

Posted by TMLutas at August 29, 2004 11:49 AM