A number of breathless pundits have described the Iranian challenge to the U.S. as the modern equivalent of of the old Soviet challenge. So, I’ve been trawling for estimates of the size of Iran’s annual subsidy to Hezbollah, Iran’s primary foreign beneficiary, and I’ve come up with a range of $25 million to $200 million, with a modal guess of $100 million (and even that paltry sum is arousing resentment among Iranian voters). In comparison, the annual Soviet subsidy to Cuba alone in the 1980s is said to have run between $4 and $6 billion, or at least 20 times larger. Hezbollah is thought to have 5,000 men at arms in its home country of Lebanon, which contrasts with the 65,000 that Cuba deployed in 17 African countries at the behest of the Kremlin. ~Steve Sailer
Mr. Sailer has his numbers right. According to the Times‘ article on Hizbullah, the subsidy level is towards the low end of the range Mr. Sailer proposed:
It has not even cost Iran very much. Hezbollah was launched with just £13m. After that, according to best estimates, Iran spent £32m to £54m a year on its Lebanese assets. Even if we add the cost of training Hezbollah fighters and equipping them with hardware, Hezbollah (the strongest fighting force in the Middle East after Iran and Israel) has not cost Iran more than £1.3 billion over two decades.
The epic battle of our time this is not.