This article in Defense News estimates that if President Obama attacks Syria the cost would likely be “hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons,” including $1.4 million for each Raytheon Tomahawk missile that is launched. All last week I saw estimates that were equally vague and varied from the tens of millions up to and over a billion dollars.
Of course, that’s hardly the press’s fault; no one can know the cost of the proposed attack without knowing the details of the war plan, and even then, the ultimate cost would depend on how the plan pans out — including how many weapons are used and how long it all takes.
Still, I would like to see two stories this week related to the Syria war debate and money.
First, someone should try to scope out the likely cost with greater precision — including fuel and logistics support for the war ships in the area, extra costs for putting various forces, such as those protecting embassies, on high alert, as well as the exact cost of the missiles to be used. Maybe budgets for different scenarios have been submitted to the relevant congressional committees. One would hope someone on Capitol Hill has bothered to ask.
Suppose the budget is $500 million. Then, a sidebar ought to list a half dozen or more other items the federal government could buy for $500 million. For example, according to this CBS News report it would take just $425 million to restore all the sequester-forced cuts to Head Start that have forced 57,000 low-income children out of the early childhood education program beginning this month.