The government's purpose is to protect innocent Americans, so that's the highest consideration. Of course innocent lives, of any nationality, are more important than monetary cost. -- tex-oma
I agree with, and will here amplify, Aaron's point:
In the prosecution of a Just War (the analysis herein naturally depends upon the War in question being a Just War of retaliatory defense), the State's priorities are as follows:
1.) The Lives of domestic Civilians (Principle of Covenant)
2.) The Lives of domestic Soldiers (Principle of Covenant)
3.) The Lives of enemy Civilians (Principle of Charity)
4.) The Lives of enemy Soldiers (Principle of Charity)
These priorities are ordered thusly, not on the basis of any disparity in the values of the respectives Lives (life = life = life = life, period), but on the basis of a disparity of respective Duty. State is Covenanted to provide the defense of the Lives and Rights of its Citizens -- indeed, that is its only legitimate reason to exist.
If I owe tex-oma $1,000 dollars, and I see A.J. Armitage starving and destitute for want of $100 to food and shelter, my first duty is to repay tex-oma the $1,000 which I owe. It does not matter how much I may wish to extend Charity to AJ; that money is not mine to give (unless, God willing, tex-oma should release me from my debt to perform Charity). Likewise, State's first duty is the Defense of its Covenanted Citizens; State does not even have the moral option of extending Charity to the enemy in War unless its duty in this regard is fulfilled. (For the same reason, all Foreign Aid is illegitimate -- no matter how Charitable, State has the primary duty not to tax even one dollar away from a single taxpayer for any duties other than those it is Covenanted to perform.)
A codicil to points #3 and #4 must here be stated -- the "Brutal Peace" codicil. IF State is reasonably confident that a brutal attack (even one of horrific brutality) against 10,000 enemy soldiers or even enemy civilians will so completely demoralize the enemy that a rapid peace will thereafter be acheived -- saving the lives of its Citizens (and, perhaps, many enemy lives also), then the brutal attack is not a "necessary evil", but rather a moral necessity to the performance of its primary duty to secure the defense and Peace of its own citizenry. While I would not class the fire-bombing of Dresden (which was a completely wanton and sadistic orgy of slaughter having no redeeming value, IMHO) among this sort of action, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima -- given the uncertainty of Japanese surrender prior to that action -- arguably fits the bill. (Nagasaki, OTOH, was probably unnecessary, historically speaking. But, hindsight is 20/20).
As always, IMHO.
Expanding on #37 and in particular the Brutal Peace codicil, the greatest folly of US involvement in the Israeli-Arab dispute was attempting to cushion the blows that the Arabs were receiving from Israel, as we did repeatedly and continue to do now. A decisive victory over the Palestinian terrorism, -- something that Israel was capable of achieving -- would have made the Arabs live with the consequences of their political choices; Arafat et al. would have been replaced with Arab leaders capable of negotiating peace. Now we should ponder to what extent the successful transformation of Arafat from a mass murderer to a statesman, the transformation that the US engineered, has influenced the bin Ladenite generation of terrorists.