A key facet of bin Laden's anti-American warfare has always been economic. It's a lesson he drew from the Afghan-Soviet war, in which he first served as a financier of mujahidin efforts and then as a fighter. He watched the Soviet Union withdraw from Afghanistan in defeat and then dissolve altogether in 1991. Bin Laden asserted on multiple occasions that the mujahidin were responsible for destroying the Soviet empire. Whether or not he's right, he clearly believed that the high costs imposed by the Afghan-Soviet war prevented the Soviet Union from adapting to other challenges, such as grain shortages and a collapse in world oil prices.
When you consider the hundreds of billions we spend every year in defense, including a large chunk of money just for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and couple that with our dwindling economy, we can see this is one goal he might achieve, though he didn't live to see it.
Thinking of that makes stories like this all the more infuriating:
Hard-charging Republicans who rallied voters last year with cries of "Stop the spending, ban the earmarks" are quietly offering a more familiar Washington refrain now they're in Congress – not in my backyard.