Afghanistan Weekly Reader: Another $88 Billion, For What?

Military leaders like to tell us that we’re making progress in Afghanistan. Some politicians and pundits say that if we just stay the course, leave the troops there, then we might “succeed.”

But it seems that the outlook in Afghanistan isn’t as rosy as we have been lead to believe. A new intelligence estimate calls the war a stalemate. A NATO report details pervasive corruption in Afghanistan. And now a US Army officer is speaking out about how what he saw in Afghanistan in no way matches what officials have been telling the American public.

As these facts pile up, it becomes harder and harder to justify the bloated war budget. $120 billion in 2011, $110 billion in 2012, and now the Defense Department wants $88 billion for war costs in 2013. We keep spending, but by all accounts we’re not getting much out of it. How much evidence do we need before coming up with a smarter strategy?

From ASG
Do You Want To Spend Another $88 Billion In Afghanistan?
Afghanistan Study Group by Mary Kaszynski

The price tag for the war in Afghanistan – $88 billion if the 2013 request is fully funded – will include a war that the majority of Americans do not support, plus some equipment that the Army doesn’t need, and who knows what else. The war may be winding down, but the Defense Department’s shady accounting practices continue, at the expense of the American taxpayer.

In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-Blower
New York Times by Scott Shane

On his second yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis traveled 9,000 miles, patrolled with American troops in eight provinces and returned in October of last year with a fervent conviction that the war was going disastrously and that senior military leaders had not leveled with the American public.

Could and Should U.S. End Combat Role in Afghanistan Early?
PBS NewsHour Interview with

Gen. Jack Keane and Celeste Ward Gventer (University of Texas)
Gventer: I think we need to step back and ask the question, fighting season to fight for what, and who are we fighting, and to what end?…It’s not clear who our enemy is or what another fighting season or two more fighting seasons or 10 more fighting seasons is really going to achieve, at the expense of American lives and treasure.

Romney Playing With Fire on Afghanistan

National Journal by Alex Roarty
Mitt Romney’s sharp criticism Wednesday of President Obama’s newly planned troop withdrawal in Afghanistan raises a thorny question for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee: Why is he intent on aligning himself with such an unpopular position? The answer might lie in a candidate willing to lose a battle to win the war.

Afghanistan 2013: America’s Next Groove
The Atlantic by Steve Clemons

Former State Department official and US Marine Matthew Hoh, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy, and I had a very good discussion with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball about Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s comments that the US would cease combat operations in Afghanistan in 2013 — rather than the end of 2014.

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