Since this is my first post, I thought I would start with a topic that I think about a lot. In 2012 and 2013 I was in the Navy and deployed to Afghanistan assigned to a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). According to our friends at Wikipedia:
A Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was a unit introduced by the United States government, consisting of military officers, diplomats, and reconstruction subject matter experts, working to support reconstruction efforts in unstable states. PRTs were first established in Afghanistan in early 2002, and as of 2008 operate there as well as in Iraq. While the concepts are similar, PRTs in Afghanistan and Iraq had separate compositions and missions. Their common purpose, however, was to empower local governments to govern their constituents more effectively.
Thankfully, to my knowledge PRTs no longer operate in Afghanistan. PRTs were some of the biggest offenders of waste, fraud and abuse by dumping millions of dollars into useless construction projects in order to keep Generals happy who ultimately wanted to keep politicians happy. It was during my time on a PRT that I witnessed the colossal waste that was the US presence in Afghanistan. The level of corruption, pedophilia and rampant drug use by Afghans that reached to the highest levels of their government is downright disgusting. Not as disgusting as the number of US lives lost and US dollars wasted. The problem is that no one really knows how much money has been spent on Operation Enduring Freedom. Some have estimated close to $2 trillion (2,000,000,000,000). I don’t know if it is that high, however when I see that number, I can’t help but think of US infrastructure upgrades that could have been done in some of our most dilapidated cities for a fraction of that cost. Ask Detroit if they could have used even 1% of $2 trillion in 2002-2013.
What many may not realize is that a significant percentage of that money was spent on bribing Afghan leaders and making them filthy rich, building hospitals and schools–many of which are now property of—the Taliban. We US taxpayers provided state of the art medical and military equipment that Afghans had no way of properly maintaining–much of which now sits in eternal disrepair at Afghan checkpoints and military bases throughout the country. For years the US government provided cash payments to Afghan President Hamid Karzai totaling in the tens of millions of dollars. The only thing this kind of spending accomplished was that it fueled corruption, created an unsustainable influx of US dollars on the Afghan economy and empowered warlords. While in Afghanistan I talked to many Soldiers, Sailors and Marines–particularly junior ones–and to a person, were all smart enough to see that the US presence there was confusing, wasteful, foolish and exposed them to danger for no relevant reason.
The Afghan people largely live as they have for centuries. They are not like us. They will never be like us. They will never like apple pies, picnics, women wearing sun-dresses, education–the things Americans enjoy and value. They will forever be stuck in a tribal society where most do not even know how old they are, can’t read, do not have indoor plumbing and save for American “investment” have no real infrastructure. No amount of US troops will ever change this. Every minute the US continues a presence in Afghanistan more US dollars are wasted and the potential to lose more US lives increases. It is true that the second we leave, the Taliban will undoubtedly overrun the country as they have been doing in recent years in areas where the US no longer maintains a presence. This is a problem that Afghan leaders and people can choose to or choose not to deal with—without us. We will make it our problem if another 9/11 style attack is planned and staged from Afghanistan–At which time the US reserves the right to remove Afghanistan from the face of the planet. They were warned once. Until then, it is time to pack up and get every last American out of Afghanistan and do not give them another dollar.