Afghanistan: What has the conflict cost the US and its allies? – BBC News

How much money has been spent?

“The vast majority of spending in Afghanistan has come from the US.

Between 2010 to 2012, when the US for a time had more than 100,000 soldiers in the country, the cost of the war grew to almost $100bn a year, according to US government figures.

As the US military shifted its focus away from offensive operations and concentrated more on training up Afghan forces, costs fell sharply.

By 2018 annual expenditure was around $45bn, a senior Pentagon official told the US Congress that year.

According to the US Department of Defense, the total military expenditure in Afghanistan (from October 2001 until September 2019) had reached $778bn.

In addition, the US state department – along with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other government agencies – spent $44bn on reconstruction projects.

That brings the total cost – based on official data – to $822bn between 2001 and 2019, but it doesn’t include any spending in Pakistan, which the US uses as a base for Afghan-related operations.

According to a Brown University study in 2019, which has looked at war spending in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US had spent around $978bn (their estimate also includes money allocated for the 2020 fiscal year).”

Source: Afghanistan: What has the conflict cost the US and its allies? – BBC News

Ezra Klein | Let’s Not Pretend That the Way We Withdrew From Afghanistan Was the Problem – The New York Times

“. . .  Focusing on the execution of the withdrawal is giving virtually everyone who insisted we could remake Afghanistan the opportunity to obscure their failures by pretending to believe in the possibility of a graceful departure. It’s also obscuring the true alternative to withdrawal: endless occupation. But what our ignominious exit really reflects is the failure of America’s foreign policy establishment at both prediction and policymaking in Afghanistan.

“The pro-war crowd sees this as a mechanism by which they can absolve themselves of an accounting for the last 20 years,” Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, told me. “Just think about the epic size of this policy failure. Twenty years of training. More than $2 trillion worth of expenditure. For almost nothing. It is heartbreaking to watch these images, but it is equally heartbreaking to think about all of the effort, of lives and money we wasted in pursuit of a goal that was illusory.” “

Thomas L. Friedman | On Afghanistan and the Taliban, Biden Could Still Be Right – The New York Times

(DL: When he is good, he is great)

“For years, U.S. officials used a shorthand phrase to describe America’s mission in Afghanistan. It always bothered me: We are there to train the Afghan Army to fight for their own government.

That turned out to be shorthand for everything that was wrong with our mission — the idea that Afghans didn’t know how to fight and just one more course in counterinsurgency would do the trick. Really? Thinking you need to train Afghans how to fight is like thinking you need to train Pacific Islanders how to fish. Afghan men know how to fight. They’ve been fighting one another, the British, the Soviets or the Americans for a long, long time.

It was never about the way our Afghan allies fought. It was always about their will to fight for the corrupt pro-American, pro-Western governments we helped stand up in Kabul. And from the beginning, the smaller Taliban forces — which no superpower was training — had the stronger will, as well as the advantage of being seen as fighting for the tenets of Afghan nationalism: independence from the foreigner and the preservation of fundamentalist Islam as the basis of religion, culture, law and politics. In oft-occupied countries like Afghanistan, many people will actually prefer their own people as rulers (however awful) over foreigners (however well intentioned).

“We learn again from Afghanistan that although America can stop bad things from happening abroad, it cannot make good things happen. That has to come from within a country,” said Michael Mandelbaum, a U.S. foreign policy expert and the author of “Mission Failure: America and the World in the Post-Cold War Era.” “

Opinion | I Fought in Afghanistan. I Still Wonder, Was It Worth It? – The New York Times

Mr. Kudo is a former Marine captain who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He is working on a novel about the Afghanistan war.

Credit…Illustration by Nicholas Konrad/The New York Times; photograph by Getty Images

“When President Biden announced on Wednesday that the United States would withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, he appeared to be finally bringing this “forever war” to an end. Although I have waited for this moment for a decade, it is impossible to feel relief. The Sept. 11 attacks took place during my senior year of college, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that followed consumed the entirety of my adult life. Although history books may mark this as the end of the Afghanistan war, it will never be over for many of my generation who fought.

Sometimes there are moments, no more than the span of a breath, when the smell of it returns and once again I’m stepping off the helicopter ramp into the valley. Covered in the ashen dust of the rotor wash, I take in for the first time the blend of wood fires burning from inside lattice-shaped mud compounds, flooded fields of poppies and corn, the sweat of the unwashed and the wet naps that failed to mask it, chicken and sheep and the occasional cow, the burn pit where trash and plastic smoldered through the day, curries slick with oil eaten by hand on carpeted dirt floors, and fresh bodies buried shallow, like I.E.D.s, in the bitter earth.

It’s sweet and earthy, familiar to the farm boys in the platoon who knew that blend of animal and human musk but alien to those of us used only to the city or the lush Southern woods we patrolled during training. Later, at the big bases far from the action, surrounded by gyms and chow halls and the expeditionary office park where the flag and field grade officers did their work, it was replaced by a cologne of machinery and order. Of common parts installed by low-bid contractors and the ocher windblown sand of the vast deserts where those behemoth bases were always located. Relatively safe after the long months at the frontier but dull and lifeless.  . . . “

Bountiful Afghan Opium Harvest Yields Profits for the Taliban – The New York Times

“KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — It is spring that determines how a year turns out, according to an Afghan proverb. And if the Helmand poppy fields this spring are any indication, the Taliban will have a very good year.As the opium harvest winds down across Helmand Province, Afghanistan’s largest in territory and poppy cultivation, farmers and officials are reporting high yields. The skies were generous with heavy rainfall, and the Afghan government with its cancellation of annual eradication campaigns. It had lost much of the territory in Helmand to the Taliban anyway.”

Source: Bountiful Afghan Opium Harvest Yields Profits for the Taliban – The New York Times

NYT: C.I.A. Funds Found Their Way Into Qaeda Coffers! Commenter compares lack of transparency to Citizens United.

Oddly enough, it was a comment after that inspired me to share this horrible tale. The Comment, (which you might want to read after the article):
Steve Fankuchen
Oakland, CA 4 hours ago

This article highlights another way in which many of America’s current problems stem not so much from large sums of money aggregated by individuals and organizations but, rather, by the lack of transparency and accountability for its use.

The C.I.A. dumping millions in unaccountable cash abroad is much like the often untraceable money dumped into our political campaigns, the Agency’s unintended consequences not unlike those unleashed by the money spewed out as a result of the Citizens United decision. Similarly, the lack of accountability at the Agency itself is much like the lack of accountability for the individuals in Wall Street and banks, whose actions lead to the financial meltdown.

The cure lies not so much in curtailing the amassing of fortunes as in establishing public accountability for its public use.

Reply
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The United States, largely because of poor oversight and loose financial controls, has sometimes inadvertently financed the very militants it is fighting.
nytimes.com|By MATTHEW ROSENBERG