Lost Treasure

$6.7 billion dollars/month – $80 billion dollars/year. That is what the war in Afghanistan (what can be fairly called Obama’s war in Afghanistan) is costing us in money. What the war is costing in terms of the truly invaluable treasure – the lives of American soldiers and Marines dwarfs the material costs.

It’s not worth it and it will only get worse. I have written before about the war in Afghanistan, and here I go again…

I have a great deal of respect for President Obama, and I was an early supporter, so it’s not easy to discuss how much of a profound failure he is with regards to Afghanistan. How a man of such obvious intellect could fail to understand history as it repeats itself in Afghanistan is a lesson in point on political and institutional blind spots.

Let’s discuss just how the wheel of history repeating itself… a recent example from 1963. Ngo Dinh Diem was installed by a US engineered coup as president of South Viet Nam. He was considered an ally who would rubber stamp the US military involvement. He was corrupt, encouraged corruption (especially in the opium trade) and he was no fan of democracy or the rule of law. He had a brother who was also corrupt and directly involved in the drug trade (who also happened to be a Roman Catholic Archbishop).

Hamid Kasai, once employed by Haliburton, was appointed President of Afghanistan by the Bush Administration (no coup was necessary) and remains President only because the US turned a blind eye to a fraudulent election, controlled by his brother who is involved in the opium trade.

Henry Cabot Lodge, then ambassador to S. Viet Nam, warned against supporting Diem and escalating military involvement However, the US felt that Viet Nam was a necessary war to stop the advancement of our enemies (this time the Communists) and that if Viet Nam fell then all of SE Asia would fall. We had to support Diem to win the war, and we had to win the war to avoid fighting one on our own soil. Karl Eikenberry, the current ambassador to Afghanistan has publicly warned against supporting Karzai and escalating US military involvement.

Diem falsely projected control of most of South Viet Nam, but really only controlled major cities – most of the countryside was either under Communist control or were opposed to the Diem regime. The Karzai does not control any areas outside of the two major cities, and barley those.

The parallels should be obvious to anyone, but here is the scariest. The latest argument in favor of the war is that it necessary to prevent Pakistan from destabilizing and becoming a radical State. Anyone remember what happened when the US escalated the war across the border into Cambodia? Not only did Cambodia become unstable, so did Laos. Think about this the next time the media celebrates another Predator drone attack in Pakistan.

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