• Shooting Ourselves in the Foot in Afghanistan

    November 5, 2014

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Embassy/State, Iraq, Military


    Did you know the U.S. war in Afghanistan is still going on?

    While the American war(s) in Iraq and Syria are the Kardashian’s of geopolitics– can’t get them out of the news, don’t want to look but you do anyway– America’s longest war trudges on. We have been fighting in Afghanistan for over thirteen years now. The young soldiers currently deployed there were barely in elementary school when their dad’s and mom’s kicked off the fighting.

    And we still haven’t won anything. The Taliban are still there and very potent and dangerous, a corrupt government still runs the country as a kleptocracy, “ally” Pakistan is still playing all sides against one another and the Afghan economy still relies heavily on opium production that finds its way back home here to America. Al Qaeda may have departed Afghanistan, but the franchise is still strong in its new home(s). Defeated? No, just relocated.

    SIGAR and Reconstruction

    A lot of the factors of mediocre results are America’s own doing, and many are chronicled by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

    “Reconstruction” is a strategy to win the war in Afghanistan that now has all the cache of last year’s high fashion outfits, though unlike those old clothes, reconstruction– and the insane cost of it– is still around. The once-fashionable idea of reconstruction was that military force alone could not win the fight against the Taliban. The U.S. needed to win over the people, that hearts and mind thing that also failed in Iraq and long ago in Vietnam.

    The idea was that America would build the Afghans schools and bridges at the local level, and dams and hydroelectric power plants at the national level. They’d love us, abandon the Taliban, and replace their poppy-based economy with a modern, sustainable one. Pundits and academics may argue whether the theory of all that makes sense, but no one outside of Washington still believes it is working on the ground in Afghanistan.

    Latest SIGAR Report

    So along comes SIGAR with their latest report on how things are going in Afghanistan. Here’s what they have to say:

    — SIGAR is “deeply troubled” by the U.S. decision to classify the summary of the report that assesses the capability of the Afghan National Security Forces. The summaries have before all been unclassified prior to this quarter. The classification of the report summary deprives the American people of an essential tool to measure the success or failure of the single most costly feature of the Afghanistan reconstruction effort.

    — The U.S. Army’s refusal to suspend or debar supporters of the insurgency (the bad guys we are fighting) from receiving government contracts is not only legally wrong, but contrary to sound policy and national-security goals.

    — Approximately $104.1 billion of your tax money has been appropriated for Afghanistan reconstruction so far, with about $14.5 billion still remaining to be spent. It will likely be spent.

    — Afghanistan’s opium economy directly provides up to 411,000 full-time-equivalent jobs, more than the entire Afghan military.

    — Irrigation projects paid for by the American taxpayer in Afghanistan may have facilitated increased opium-poppy cultivation after periods of significant reductions. Irrigation improvements funded by the American Good Performer’s Initiative were definitely used to cultivate opium poppy in both 2013 and 2014.

    Previous SIGAR reports chronicle similar actions and results.

    Other Examples of Waste

    Not in the SIGAR report but worth mentioning are a few other prominent examples of American waste of our taxpayer dollars:

    — A five-year-old State Department effort to upgrade Afghanistan’s largest prison has been halted with only half the contracted work performed. Some $18 million was wasted on a project that will never be finished and will never serve any need.

    — For unclear reasons, the U.S. Air Force destroyed $468 million of aircraft purchased for the Afghan military by America’s taxpayers, and sold off the scrapped metal for all of $32,000.

    — The U.S. spent $34 million on a “Regional Command and Control Facility” that will never be used. The Marines this week forever abandoned/withdrew from the base that houses that facility.

    — The U.S. spent another $771.8 million on aircraft the Afghans cannot operate or maintain.

    — Some 285 buildings, including barracks, medical clinics and even fire stations built by the Army are lined with substandard spray insulation so prone to ignition that they don’t meet international building codes.

    — A USAID program designed to promote stability in Afghanistan spent its entire $47 million budget on conferences and none on grants to accomplish its aim.

    The Biggest Waste of All

    The list of financial failures could go on and on such that it might take you thirteen years to read through it all. But here is the biggest waste of resources of all: 2,350 Americans have lost their lives in the Afghan war, with untold tens of thousands wounded, disabled or wracked by the mental scars of war. What shall we tell them and their loved ones about why they suffered?

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Peter said:
      quote”…here is the biggest waste of resources of all: 2,350 Americans have lost their lives in the Afghan war, with untold tens of thousands wounded, disabled or wracked by the mental scars of war. What shall we tell them and their loved ones about why they suffered?”

      They don’t want to hear the truth. Because it would prove they’re as stupid as the rest of the DFCOTP. In realityland, every young person who joins the military now, is a dumb fuck who still believes the crap they were indoctrinated to believe.

      Meanwhile, the DFCOTP just voted for more of the same.

      bartender,..do you have a liquer called “FoolMeTwice”? Cool. I’ll take a double.

      11/5/14 1:16 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      “Fool Me Twice” would be the best mixed drink name ever. A double-shot, bartender’s choice, mixed with something sweet and strong to mask the taste. You have to guess what the booze component is. The drunker you get, the harder it is to guess right until by the end of the evening the bartender can just throw Drano and spit into a shot glass and you’ll pay for it. See, symbolic of the political process and highly alcoholic. The favorite drink of a new generation!

      11/5/14 1:40 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Overheard in the halls of Congress….
      Senator X
      “Did you know the U.S. war in Afghanistan is still going on?
      Senator Y
      “No, where did you get that idea?”
      Senator X
      “My maid told me”
      Senator Y
      “Oh really? Well, I wouldn’t listen to any of her horse race tips.”
      Senator X
      “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Hey, speaking of tips, I just got an inside tip from Alexander.”
      Senator Y
      “Oh really? What kind of tip?”
      Senator X
      “Buy IronNet Cybersecurity.”
      Senator Y
      Senator X
      “Well, seems Keith got some hot crypto while at NSA that proved China was sucking up American corporate secrets, and Wallstreet is fucking freaking out. Apparently, this “IronNet” company has some new cyber patents to prevent any hackers from bringing down the too big to fail companies, and they’re forking over millions to IronNet. We’re talking a fortune here!”
      Senator Y
      “Wow. Ok.(calling his broker on his iphone)”
      Hey George(his broker), buy 1mil in IronNet immediately! What’s that? You have an inside tip too? What’s that? Telic Networks and Oplnet LLC just got a contract with NSA? Cool. BUY! Man, this cyber stock will make me rich. Not that I’m not already rich mind you, but what the hell. Did you hear that?”
      Senator X calling his broker..
      Yeah, I heard ya…”John..this is Senator X..buy a 50k shares of IronNet, Telic Networks and Oplnet LLC! Immediatly!”
      Senator Y..
      “Ok, I gotta go to a Sub-committee hearing. Hey, forget about that Afghanistan thing. It’s only a rumor..hear? We got bigger fish to fry..hahahaha!”
      Senator X..
      “Yeah, I hear ya. The next thing you know someone will claim the NSA is surveilling the entire population of Murka. Hahahahahahaha! Ok..thanks for the tips. Moola here we come!”
      Senator Y..
      “Yeah, and thanks for your tip. Whoever said “it’s who you know” had it right. If it weren’t for becoming a Senator, I’d still be a workin schmuck instead of a millionaire. Ok, well, see ya.”

      walking away mumbling to himself…
      Afghanistan war still going on…hahahahaha. Of all the idiocy. Guess I’ll have to fire her ass just for stupidity sakes.

      11/5/14 2:10 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Peter said
      “The drunker you get, the harder it is to guess right until by the end of the evening the bartender can just throw Drano and spit into a shot glass and you’ll pay for it. See, symbolic of the political process and highly alcoholic. The favorite drink of a new generation!”quote

      Hahahahahahahaha! Perfect. Should become the Executive branch’s favorite. After all..Drano is their drug of choice already. Iraq was only a Trailer..Afghanistan is living proof.

      11/5/14 2:21 PM | Comment Link

    • Michael Murry said...


      “What shall we tell them and their loved ones about why they suffered?”

      Tell them what I learned by the time I returned from Vietnam and 18 months service in the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (1970-72): namely, that Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce had it right when he defined patriotism as “combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name” and patriot as “the dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.” In other words, tell them the ugly truth about serving as low-wage, expendable racketeers for finance capitalism. Lying to them about the “nobility” of their “service” only causes more of them to enlist in the colossal fraud. Perhaps telling them the unvarnished truth will have the opposite result.

      11/6/14 9:25 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      Increased poppy production and heroin trafficking is not an accidental, unfortunate side effect of our invasion of Afghanistan. Heroin is one of the “natural resources” we went in to steal, and the poppy fields are guarded by US soldiers just like the gold mines we guard for JPMorgan. See, for instance, the picture you used at the top of this post. Building things and then tearing them down, sending in planes and equipment and then scrapping them, repeatedly hiring contractors known for shoddy workmanship and then paying for it all a second time to “re-do” the crap, paying the insurgency forces to fight against us or letting them accidently get ahold of the US weapons and equipment; none of this is due to poor decision-making or bad oversight. These are the whole point of the “war”. We are not in Afghanistan because we stay up nights fretting over the fates of some poor people over there on the other side of the world. We are not there because of the Taliban’s treatment of these same poor people; the Taliban may be some nasty mofo’s, but we helped found them and fund them to power. We kind of ignored their rise until they shut down the poppy trade. And the Taliban had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, so that is not why we are fighting there, despite the rewriting of recent history to make Americans think the Taliban bombed NY in 2001. (One of my senators, Ben Cardin, was one of the first members of Congress to publicly make the revisionist statement, “Let’s not forget the Taliban attacked us on 9/11.” Now everyone in Congress just says it casually, like it were some “fact”.)

      We are in Afghanistan to steal resources. We are there to have the say in who builds oil pipelines and where. We are there to give a lot of taxpayer dollars to military contractors and weapons manufacturers and to do this over and over until Raytheon, Academi, and Halliburton say they have enough cash. (That will occur the same day hell officially freezes over.)

      And why are we building prisons there? I can’t quite remember. Had something to do with bribing poor farmers to name some “suspects” so we could then take them away and torture them, without having to do it on American soil. Added benefit of creating a reason to pay Halliburton to build prisons and pay mercenaries to guard them, etc. Nothing says “we’re bringing democracy” like instituting a large prison population. See, for example, the size of the prison population in the US. We got us a LOT of democracy, and a significant number of the prisoners here are in jail because they bought/sold/used heroin that came out of…Afghanistan.

      C’mon, Peter, nobody really thinks we are there to win hearts and minds, especially the people who say that. We do not give a flying fuck about Afghani hearts and minds.

      We are not “at war”, we are prosecuting an illegal and very long-drawn-out ground invasion in a country that never attacked us. I am sorry the public is so stupid as to voluntarily participate in this, but stupid is who we are. The young soldiers, whom you remark were elementary school age when we started this shit, are completely indoctrinated into the war mentality and that is a shame. They think this is what the US does, they think this is our only export – war. Half of the US population is now working in a security field; military, mercenary, police, prison staff, Homeland Security, private guards for private companies, spying programs like the NSA and its twenty-odd related agencies, intel, TSA, CIA, etc.

      If the Army changed its motto to the more blatant “Let’s go fuck up someone else’s shit for fun and profit”, they’d still have plenty of recruits. Because most of America is on board with that.

      11/6/14 10:41 AM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      And our glorious new war on ISIS is going to be the same money dump. Where did ISIS come from? Oh, yeah, we kind of invented them, conjured them up from the foggy mist of The Long War in Persia. Why don’t we let the ME handle their own long-standing Hatfield and McCoy a-feudin’ and a-fightin’? Oh, yeah, because oil. Because Northrop Grumman. Because Israel. Because Assad.

      From Walter Pincus, WaPo:

      […] The Defense Department is certainly preparing for a long fight.

      For example, on Oct. 24 the Air Combat Command of the U.S. Air Force issued a notice to potential contractors that it plans a follow-on contract that could run for eight years, starting in October 2016, to operate, maintain and support Air Force Central Command’s major war reserve materiel facilities in Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

      DynCorp won the current contract in 2008. The new contract could go through 2024.

      The sites hold prepositioned equipment for the U.S. Air Force and Army. Here’s just a few items:
      ●Mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs).

      ●Medical contingency hospitals for expeditionary medical support.

      ●Basic expeditionary airfield resources — facilities and equipment that could house 3,300 airmen and 72 fighter aircraft at expeditionary locations.

      The contract proposal includes a section titled, “Munitions Contingency Operations at Al Udeid,” an air base in Qatar. It says that during “contingencies” the base will be a “munitions hub,” also utilizing facilities at “Falcon 78,” an ammunition storage area.

      Another section of the proposal, “Employment in Time of War Plan,” requires the contractor to develop “a supplemental compensation and protection plan to retain a workforce capable of sustaining preparation and outload operations . . . in the event WRM [war reserve materiel] sites come under attack by hostile fire.”

      The current contract runs upwards of $70 million a year, plus some additional costs.

      That’s just for the Air Force. […]


      And that is how American business is done, boys and girls. And business is a-boomin’.

      11/6/14 11:53 AM | Comment Link

    • Stephen said...


      Last week I read “War Is A Racket” by General Smedley Butler, something I had meant to read for a long time. It was written in 1935. Everything you said above he would have fully understood. In 1935. Some things don’t change or, if they do, just get worse.


      11/6/14 1:44 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...



      I’ve only read excerpts, and have always agreed with them. Lots of information is available about the lies we have been told over and over to get us to agree to going to war, despite the MSM’s narratives. Anyone who can read and who has a library nearby or a computer can find the information. Heck, even the MSM is full of stories about the lies that got us into Iraq, that’s no secret.

      Yet we have always believed the bullshit reasons we have been given for invading other countries and killing a bunch of people. And now we are falling for the same baloney and largely agree that we need to bomb Syria and re-bomb Iraq. We are either an extremely stupid and gullible people, or we simply enjoy being thugs. It’s possible that both are true.

      I’ve given up on the public. What was the line in “Men in Black”? I think it went, “A person is smart. People are stupid.”

      – Teri

      11/6/14 4:18 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      Only still there to protect Poppy’s Company Bush poppycrop (and whatever else US can crime-syndicately extract).

      11/7/14 2:35 PM | Comment Link

    • Tim said...


      11/9/14 10:10 PM | Comment Link

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