[ by Charles Cameron — large numbers don’t fit well into small skulls, but we do what we can ]
Charles Lister tweeted today:
The numbers are, for my humble self, staggering.
And you can’t lose $1.5 billion if you didn’t have $1.5 billion at some point to lose.
How about the “caliphate”?
Here’s the Jabhat vs ISIS — now IS, aka the “caliphate” — comparison:
Among other things, ISIS “made off with £256 million in cash and a large amount of gold bullion from Mosul’s central bank during its takeover of the city” as the Telegraph reported. That’s a half billion dollars, give or take.
And now IS is presumably “worth” 2 billion. Give or take.
To put those figures in perspective, let’s compare IS today with AQ in 2001:
Business Insider calculated bin Laden‘s ROI at the time of his death at 2,514,000 to 1:
Al-Qaida pulled off the Sept. 11 attacks for approximately $500,000, according to the 9/11 Commission report. By the end of fiscal 2011 the U.S. will have spent $1.3 trillion, or 9% of the national debt, fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq according to the Center for Defense Information. But when it’s all said and done the total cost of the wars will make Bin Laden’s 2,514,000:1 return at the time of his death multiply dramatically. It has been projected by Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and others that the lifetime cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will run to approximately $3 trillion, or over 20% of current federal public debt, when long-term medical care for the wounded and other costs are factored.
And here’s the current cost comparison with Iraqi losses:
I have to confess my mind is a little bit numb with the numbers at this point.
If I had time and talent, I suppose I’d make theis whole thing more comprehensible, at least to people like myself, by treating dollar amounts the way XKCD treats radiation — but I don’t, so here’s my attempt to give a wider overview, sorted in ascending order of magnitude to make it easier for me to notice how $millions become $billions become $trillions.
Lister, leaked audio [edited to add: but see comment #1 below] Lister, Golani admits Guardian, $2bn network Telegraph, ISIS’ half-a-billion-dollar heist Business Insider, Bin Laden’s ROI Exec Summary, 9/11 Commission Report [see under “financing”] BasNews, Iraqi costs CIA, GDP Iraq (2013 est) CIA, GDP Syria (2011 est) CIA, GDP USA (2013 est)