Thursday, February 04, 2016

Remember a country far away ... called Afghanistan?

Blogging about the warmongers led me to think about Afghanistan.  How much have we--the US--sunk in there?

Of course, the war spending is a staggering amount.  In case you forgot that amount, you might want to sit down first and hold on to a firm table or pillar.  The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq cost the US.taxpayers $1.6 trillion, according to the Congressional Research Service.  But, that is an underestimate:
A truer measure of the wars’ total costs pegs them at between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. This fuller accounting includes “long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs,” Harvard economist Linda Bilmes calculated in 2013.
The Pentagon and its civilian overseers don’t like to talk about war costs, either before or after the shooting. That’s because a high price tag beforehand acts as an economic brake, making war—assuming that’s the goal—less likely.
After all that spending ...

Anyway, that was for the wars that supposedly ended.  Since then, we have also been investing in Afghanistan for its reconstruction.  How much has that been?  Even after adjusting for inflation, our spending there has exceeded the amount that we spent in Europe via the celebrated Marshall Plan.  I wonder who really benefited from all those hundreds of billions of dollars--certainly not the students in my classes who work anything between 15 and 40 hours every week in order to make sure they will not have huge debts when graduating.

So, after all that spending ...
Wasil was waiting Monday at a fruit stand in Tirin Kot, the capital of southern Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province, when he was shot dead by two gunmen. His uncle said he was 12 years old.
What was special about Wasil?
Wasil Ahmad learned to fire a gun at age 9, after his father was killed by Taliban militants.
Before long, his uncle said, the boy had become a celebrated Taliban killer, credited with gunning down six insurgents during a battle last summer.
Local officials in Uruzgan and others hailed Wasil as a hero, but some said his story offered yet another example of the price paid by Afghan youth in the more than 14-year conflict.
In the first six months of 2015, the U.N. Mission in Afghanistan documented 1,270 casualties among children — 320 deaths and 950 injuries — a 13% increase over the prior year.
Yep, that is the Afghanistan today, after all that spending ...
Forgotten by the West, Afghanistan is facing a multidimensional civil war with the Afghan Taliban, which is being aided now by a plethora of groups such as al-Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Chechens, and Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.
Oh, hey, aren't you glad that we were wonderfully distracted and entertained by the likes of Trump and Palin and more?
In at least two provinces bordering Pakistan (Nangarhar and Zabul) the Taliban are also fighting ISIS, which is trying to recruit among dissatisfied Taliban members. Not until the end of January were US Special Forces in Afghanistan given authorization to go after ISIS fighters in the country—one reflection of how lackadaisically the Pentagon is responding to the crisis there. US forces can now pursue ISIS fighters, who have been declared a threat to the US. One may well ask, What about the threat that the Afghan government has already faced from ISIS all these months as the group has built up its base areas?
Ah, do the blabbering bellicose buffoons who want to lead the Republican Party care about such details before they go to all corners of the world to kick ass and bomb people to oblivion?

Caption at the source:
12-year-old Wasil Ahmad, who was killed by gunmen in southern Afghanistan on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016


Anne in Salem said...

So should we just evacuate and let the more violent/evil side win? Seems to me the choice is spend more money to try to train the Afghanis to protect themselves and fight ISIS or evacuate and hope/pray for the best. Is there a third option? Has the reduction in American forces in the last couple of years been beneficial for the people of Afghanistan?

Yes, it is horrible that a 12 year old is killed. I sympathize with the family's plight. But he was a soldier, and soldiers die. If the family wanted their 12 year old son/nephew/sibling alive, he shouldn't have been killing people who have shown complete disregard for the Geneva Convention and any other standard of warfare. Now the family has lost the father and the son. What are the economic chances for that family, especially if another male family member joins the fight to avenge the boy's death?

The war in Afghanistan is as much revenge as fighting in the Middle East is. There will be no peace in either place until someone finally says enough and demands a solution other than "kill the SOB who killed my friend/parent/sibling."

What happens to the ability of the population to regenerate? If so many men, both adults and teens, are killed, how does the population recover?

Sriram Khé said...

"So should we just evacuate and let the more violent/evil side win?"
I have no idea.
But, I do know this--messing around in the affairs of another country is something we ought to do very, very,very carefully. (Remember Iran and Chile?) And if we are going to mess around via a war, then we ought to do it very, very, very, very, very thoughtfully and carefully. (Remember Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the creation of Osama as a force?)
Yet, the blabbering bellicose buffoons casually talk about military options? And even more shocking the support these buffoons get, which is quite a statement on my fellow Americans! :(

I brought up some of the issues, including Wasil, only to remind myself about the complications ...

As for that final comment about future population when so many young and older males die like this, well, that was the story of Russia in the 20th century--a number of violent events one after another that killed millions of males significantly altered the demographic composition.

Ramesh said...

Continuing my comment from my previous post - at least the Afghan intervention by the US had some logic. It was after the terrorist atrocity of 9/11 and the nutcases were hiding in Afghanistan. Going after them was legitimate, even though the costs, as you have outlined, both monetary and otherwise, have been horrendous. But what of Iraq (where there was little cause for going into), the bashing of Obama's strategy of leading from the behind in Libya, the clamour for getting into the quagmire of Syria, etc etc. History will thank Obama for not getting the US into a deep mess .

Sriram Khé said...

Going after the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was legitimate, indeed. But, it turns out that there were plenty of holes in the war planning--the holes that let Osama and other key players slip away into Pakistan. I suspect it will be decades before we find out the details behind all these and I will be dead before then! All those holes have helped create the mess that Afghanistan is now, on top of the mess that it was thanks to the Cold War, the Soviet invasion, ... My point is that to launch a legitimate war is not simply a matter of dropping a few bombs and missiles and overthrowing a regime ...

If that were the case in a legitimate war, then the illegal invasion of Iraq is horrendous ... "W" famously declaring Mission Accomplished dressed up ... atrocious.

But, we are a war-loving people and we like to screw around with other people, especially if they are brown-skinned.

Unlike you, I don't give Obama a great deal of credit though. I never got a clear idea of where he was on war and peace. Obama figured out that it is a lot more complication if we nabbed people and brought them to trial (even if they were American citizens) and he massively increased drone-based killing, and by even being the final decider on who gets on the list to be killed.
On Libya and Syria, Obama never seemed to have a game plan--remember his famous "red line" talk about Syria? The guy started his presidency encouraging the spread of freedom and democracy in the Middle East but when people rose up he seemed to want to stay in the shadows. Almost like how papa Bush did back in the Saddam days with the Kurds ...

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