On the 14th of April 2018, as most are surely aware, the prime ministers of France and the UK assisted failed meatpacking-entrepreneur Donald Trump in violating all the most important international laws by attacking Syria in Damascus and Homs. For whatever reason, the US-led coalition thought it was a good idea to get revenge against Syria for an alleged gas-attack by blowing up any hypothetical evidence that might have proven the Syrian government was behind said gas-attack. The truth, it seems, was part of the price we pay for — well, no one can really be sure (since the evidence blew up) but dammit our freedom is safe and that’s what counts. The other part of the price is mostly really expensive bombs.
What Is the Price of Attacking Syria?
Altogether, the Brits chipped in 8 stormshadow missiles, the French (not to be outdone) threw down 9 stormshadows plus 3 Missiles de Croisière Navals, and the US furnished 66 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 19 JASSM-ER (joint air to surface standoff missiles – extended range). The total price for all 105 bombs was a measly $177 million. And to get an idea of how staggeringly large $177 million is, think of it this way – if you filled every seat in the Fenway Park stadium, $177 million would be enough to hand out about $5000 cash to every person.
$1,048,030 × 8 Stormshadow missiles
$1,048,030 × 9 Stormshadow missiles
$3,300,000 × 3 MdCN
$1,869,000 × 66 Tomahawk cruise missiles
$1,359,000 × 19 JASSM-ER
$176,891,510 or about $177 million
How Much Does a Tomahawk Cruise Missile Cost?
A look at the US Department of Defense’s 2017 budget request shows that each Tomahawk cruise missile costs a mere $1.869 million. According to its maker Raytheon, this hellish metal vulture “can circle for hours, shift course instantly on command and beam a picture of its target to controllers halfway around the world before striking with pinpoint accuracy.” Each time the US fires off one of these bad boys, imagine 60 full-time, living-wage jobs ripping through the air above a group of frightened Arab children…
2,087 hours per-year × $15 wage
$1,869,000 ÷ $31,305
= 59.7029 or about 60 full-time jobs per tomahawk cruise missile
Or, as an alternative, one might imagine a building in Damascus being leveled by a year’s worth of food for 1,242 of the poorest US-Americans (Avg. Yearly SNAP Benefits).
Avg. Yearly SNAP Benefits received: $1,504.8
$1,869,000 ÷ $1,504.8
= 1,242.0255 or about 1,242 hungry US-Americans
How Much Does the JASSM-ER Cost?
While Lockheed-Martin’s joint air to surface standoff missile or JASSM may lack the Tomahawk’s added cultural-appropriation, they still get the job done (if that job is killing people) at a bargain price of $1.359 million. As Lockheed-Martin’s website says — “with superior performance and affordable price, JASSM offers the best value of any weapon in its class.” Using the same units of measurement above, each JASSM-ER is about enough to create 43 US-American jobs or to provide food for a year for 903 hungry people.
Total Cost of Trump’s Illegal Attack on Damascus
Adding the total cost for 19 JASSM-ER (“extended range”) to the 66 Tomahawk missiles Trump launched during his little terror-attack on Syria last weekend brings the total cost for US missiles to….
$25,821,000 + $123,354,000
…about $149.2 million! Yay. For perspective, $149.2 million is equal to the yearly incomes of about 2,640 US-American households at the median. In a world that made sense, this $149.2 million might have funded coverage for 45,647 people as part of a universal healthcare program or employed 4,765 workers as part of a self-managed federal job guarantee.
Median Household Income: $56,516
$149,175,000 ÷ $56,516
= 2639.5180 or about 2,640 US household-incomes
Avg. Per-Person Healthcare Spend in OECD Countries:
$149,175,000 ÷ $3,268
or about 45,647 people with healthcare
2,087 hours × $15 wage
$149,175,000 ÷ $31,305
= 4,765.21322 or about 4,765 full-time, living wage jobs created
But all of this math is just a fun thought experiment. Public spending could — in theory, of course — create more jobs or ensure that people have access to healthcare or food, but then Raytheon’s stock prices would never have increased by 3.2% over the weekend. And besides, using public funds to promote the general welfare or public safety and happiness would be socialism. Where would that leave the shareholders? Think about it.
John Laurits is a poet, journalist, activist, and guerrilla educator residing in Oregon with a useless degree in eastern philosophy, along with the absurd debt which resulted from it and which is likely to follow him to his death. Laurits ( perhaps, unfortunately ) gained notoriety in early 2016 for a series of articles demystifying the math behind the delegate system used in the democratic primaries. He scribbles his work hastily in cafes across the nation but is most often found somewhere in the Pacific Northwest ( he prefers its rainy weather for reasons Californians will never understand ). He blogs at johnlaurits.com, where this post originated.