I’m fascinated by how NBC reported this story of a fight that broke out on a United Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., to Accra, Ghana. At about the 2:30 mark of the report, the reporter says:

The pentagon told us it costs $9,000 per plane per hour for an F-16. There were two involved here. 

If I may. It’s funny how suddenly the cost of using military forces becomes relevant only when the operation involves something remotely resembling the actual defense of the United States. When U.S. forces are used to patrol the skies of some far away land — or bomb that same land — then cost no longer matters. I don’t recall ever hearing how much patrolling the no-fly zones over Bosnia or Iraq cost, how much the bombing of Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have cost, how much the occasional air strikes on Somalia have cost. Or the drone strikes in Pakistan.

Forgive me for thinking that somehow the defense of the United States actually involved defending the country. Clearly, it doesn’t. Actually defending the country appears to be something we as Americans simply cannot afford. But killing people abroad? Apparently we can’t be bothered with accounting for the costs of that.