Over the past ten years the United States has poured over $19 billion dollars in aid into Afghanistan. A recent congressional report tells us that this amounts to 97% of that country’s GDP.
The report further states that by infusing these huge sums of money into humanitarian aid, inflated salaries and expansion projects…none of which can possibly be sustained without our help… we are guaranteeing the economic collapse of the country once we leave.
Lastly, the report points out that our failure to effectively address the greed and corruption in the Afghan government as well as the strong influences of the narcotics trade dictates that a large percentage of our benevolence has been wasted.
What in the hell are we doing?
Is there a doubt in anyone’s mind what is going to happen once we leave and the $19 billion dollar slush fund dries up? Violence, anarchy and corruption will escalate as the tribal warlords fight over the remaining 3% of the country’s GDP. The Taliban’s hold on the country will become even stronger. Al Qaida’s footprint will become larger; and Iran and Pakistan will have more influence. The flexing of Pakistani muscle will cause a reflexive reaction from their arch enemy, India. The possible confrontation between these two hostile nuclear powers will raise the hackles of their neighbors, China and Russia.
And all of this will happen whether we leave now or 10 years from now.
So why are we still there? Why are we spending hundreds of millions to build roads and bridges in Afghanistan when our own infrastructure is crumbling? Why are we spending hundreds of millions to build schools in Afghanistan when our own schools are failing? Why are we building hospitals in Afghanistan when 50 million of our own citizens cannot get affordable health care?
And then to add insult to injury… why are we ordering our troops to serve two and three deployments in Afghanistan only to return home to a nation unable or unwilling to care for their needs. As we write this 8200 homeless veterans are living in alleys and under bridges in Los Angeles County alone. Non-profit organizations like Operation Mend are pleading for donations to help put back together the bodies and minds of our wounded veterans.
The President says we have “turned the corner in Afghanistan.” We are not sure where he is looking. He says he will announce “a significant withdrawal of our troops in July.” This is a good thing. From our prospective the only consideration to be given to the number of troops withdrawn is force protection…ensuing the safety of those troops left behind while the withdrawal is underway.
This should be a lesson learned; a lesson that unfortunately we did not learn in Iraq or Vietnam. If you are going to invade a country you had best be prepared for the resulting consequences when you leave. We need to leave and we need to leave now. But be prepared as the repercussions of our departure will not be pretty.