How much will “victory” in Afghanistan cost?

U.S. Army Pvt. Jame Ramos, attached to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, provides security while on a dismounted patrol in the village of Sinon, Zabul province, Afghanistan, on Sept. 6, 2009.

After eleven years, more than $570 billion, and no end in sight, it seems clear that the U.S. needs a new strategy for Afghanistan. But some are still arguing that we are winning the war in Afghanistan, and that all we need to achieve our goals is stay the course.

Of course, from one perspective, the U.S. has already won in Afghanistan. The original goal was to disrupt and dismantle the al Qaeda network. The U.S. achieve this goal relatively quickly. In 2010, then CIA Director Leon Panetta estimated that the number of al Qaeda in Afghanistan totaled “maybe 50 to 100, maybe less.”

Since 2010, the U.S. has spent over $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan. In 2012 the war cost $110 billion. That’s about $2 billion per week, or over $1 billion for each member of al Qaeda that may still be in Afghanistan.

We stayed in Afghanistan long after our original goals had been accomplished. The mission changed.

We went to Afghanistan to protect U.S. national security. We stayed to nation-build.

The nation-building plan was deeply flawed. Its architects lacked a basic understanding of the region’s historical and cultural background, the key actors and dynamics at play. The idea that the counterinsurgency campaign could root out the Taliban, establish an effective central government and competent security forces, and stabilize the economy was overly ambitious.

Tactically, the U.S. plan also missed the mark. The cornerstone of the U.S. plan for Afghanistan is the Afghan national security forces, who will take the lead in the counterinsurgency after coalition forces withdraw. Military planners focused on the rapid expansion of the force. Today, the Afghan army and police have almost achieved their target number — but their capabilities remain in serious doubt.

The “quantity over quality” strategy left Afghans with a massive, but corrupt and incompetent security force. It also cost U.S. taxpayers over $50 billion.

When it comes to the war in Afghanistan, the question isn’t whether we are winning. The question is what we’re trying to achieve, and whether the goal is worth the costs.

Maybe the nation-building experiment in Afghanistan will succeed, but only at an unacceptable price. The U.S. cannot afford to spend another eleven years and another $570 billion.

With a national debt of over $16 trillion, spending billions on the war in Afghanistan doesn’t make sense. It’s time to bring that money home and build the U.S. economy, rather than nation-building halfway around the world.

Share this article:
  • Print
  • email
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Blogplay

One Response to How much will “victory” in Afghanistan cost?

  1. Mohamed Cassam says:

    Not one of the chattering classes ever mentions the original strength of Al qaeda on 9/10/01. IT WAS LESS THAN 1000! So 1000 wahabis scared the Exception Empire so much that it has gone to war all over the Muslim world obstentiely chasing these wahabis owhile racking up $12 trillion of economic damage to the US economy and at great loss of its foreign interests.
    On these original numbers: Peter Bergen at a NAF event said 800; Dr. Abdalla Abdalla, Hedayat Amin Arsala and Ashraf Ghani, all senior Northern Front leaders, say less than 1000, and Edward Girardet an old Afghan hand who was about to see Ahmed Masood when he was assasinated on 9/10.

    Last year Don Leone Pannetone then capo di capi at CIA now First Warlord for “Freedom” said AQ numbered 50, all in Pakistan, thereby getting a hasty riposte from Gen James Jones who said its 100, of which 50 were in Pakistan. Both got the country wrong; it’s Pushtoonistan.

    Nobelisto Joe Stiglitz in 06 estimated the economic costs of the 5 years Iraq+Afghan invasions at $3 trillion. Six years later add at least another $4+ trillion. Then there is the unecessary cost domestically from the paranoia that the elite classes whipped up..all those “security” measures from “terrorist proof” doors to the so-called Homeland Security complex, and the corrupting of the American psyche especially in the rise of nativism and bigotry.

    The anti Al Qaeda and anti Iraq agenda has beeen funded with feckless fiscal and monetary policies leading to huge Fed Reserve credit injections, borrowing on gigantic scale from abroad and the permanent shifting of enormous amounts of cash and especially intellectual capital from value creating ends to that value destroying macro parasite, the military-indutrial-security-STASI state.

    Face reality, the Beltway is losing al thewar it has concocted and those 1000 now 50 plus the 500 or so in Yemen and North Africa have won. If nothing at all its proof that our junker class is the most incompetent officer corps ever. The unintended consequence of the US’s reaction to the wahabi’s crime is that Yankee doodle lost his senses and let loose his bigotry and stupidity going on to invade A’stan ostensibly to kill a few hundred wahabis but staying on to fight the 20-30,000T Talibs and above all the joy of smashing Iraq on false pretences a war in smashing Iraq and the rule of law at home and abroad. In effect our elites have become AQ’s force multipliers!

    And it ain’t gonna change. The military will keep on seeking that elusive “victory” elsewhere, having been licked by the Talibs, numbering less than 20,000 Pushtoons. Above all are the evangelicals wanting a crusade against Muslim world to defend America from sharia law, and the Jews who want unfettered right to practice lebensraum and apartheid in Palestine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>