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.

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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.