The United States, Whistling Past The Graveyard Of Empires

US Soldiers Urinating On Slain Taliban Guerillas
US soldiers urinating on slain Taliban guerillas. A metaphor for the United States just pissing away money on wars it could never hope to truly win. Let alone the moral corruption they have brought

 

To consider the political, diplomatic, military and financial quagmire that Afghanistan has proved to be for the United States one need look no further than the Afghan Armed Forces. Reorganised and “reformed” in 2002 the diverse and fractious Afghan military have become a budgetary black hole into which American taxpayers have poured billions upon billions of dollars; and seemingly without end. From War is Boring:

“American taxpayers will spend $4 billion on Afghanistan’s soldiers in 2015. It’s likely that Kabul will need that level of funding for years to come. Corrupt and incompetent, the Afghan government can’t afford to pay its security forces.

Worse, recent audits of the Afghan security forces highlight a system of corruption among the country’s military leadership.

The Pentagon used to pay for Afghan soldiers’ food, but stopped when it discovered the Islamic republic’s bureaucrats were pocketing a lot of the money.

NATO established a $10-million trust fund for Afghan women soldiers. Now some of Kabul’s commanders don’t want to pay the women out of their normal budgets. They argue those salaries should come from the trust fund instead.

Soon, soldiers without bank accounts will make 20 percent less than those willing to do business with Kabul’s famously corrupt banking system. If an Afghan police officer doesn’t have a bank account, Kabul might not pay him at all.

It’s hard to be a soldier or cop in Afghanistan. It’s dangerous work. The Taliban often target the families of security forces. As if that weren’t bad enough, the Afghan government scams its own troops every chance it gets.”

In the 1960s and ’70s the United States wasted trillion of dollars propping up juntas and tyrants in Asia as it waged Cold War rivalries with the Soviet Union, a policy that yielded not much more than engendering a generational culture of anti-Americanism in the region. In the 1980s it operated the same policies in Latin America, creating a body of activists-turned-politicians who currently hold their northern neighbour in disdain. Now it has spent much of the 2000s and 2010s propping up various quasi- or actual dictatorships in the Middle East and with much the same results. Has no one in the Congress, White House, State Department or Pentagon any sense of institutional memory? Or have their memories become so deluded with the passing of time that historical failures become successes?

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10 comments

  1. So what should they have done instead?
    Just allow the USSR to take over those countries?

      1. The difference between the USA and Russia/USSR is that the USA doesn’t attack civilised countries.

    1. Latvia allowed the USSR to simply walk in and take Latvia and become a Soviet province.

        1. Swedish is one of the official languages in Finland and Swedish is the mother-tongue of many a Finn. Finland was a province of the Kingdom of Sweden for over 700 years. Many of the the most famous Finns are Swedish-speaking Finns, including including Marshall Carl Gustaf Mannerheim who led brave Finland in their fight for independence against the Soviet Union.

          Swedish-speaking Finns are 100% Finns and very proud of their country.
          The fact that they speak Swedish as their mother-tongue does not lessen their Finnish nationality nor their pride in their country.

          Latvia, on the other hand, just simply allowed the Soviet Union to walk in and turn Latvia into a Soviet province – while the Latvians just stood by let. In fact, the Latvians did not even put up a fight or resist.

          That’s not to say that the Latvians were inactive during WW2 – on the contrary, thousands of Latvians collaborated with the Nazi’s in the murder of tens of thousands of innocent Latvian civilians in yet another shameful, horrific chapter in recent Latvian history.

  2. I would say there is no easy answer to the points you’ve raised above. Given Afghanistan’s overall lack of natural resources and its constant drain on US resources, most people would agree there aren’t many positives to the US being there.

    The question that comes to mind is does the US (or any other significant power) have an obligation to step in and attempt to calm roiled waters in other parts of the world? For all the ulterior motives the US may have had in its invasion of Iraq, the fact remains that Saddam’s regime killed hundreds of thousands of opponents, often in brutal fashion, over many years. Should that have been allowed to continue? I would argue that for all the imperialistic tendencies exhibited by the US over the past century-plus, we do have an obligation to stop tyranny when we can – especially since it appears the United Nations isn’t up to the task.

    If the US pulls out of Afghanistan, the country will likely deteriorate into further chaos and could see a return to its pre-2002 status, when the Taliban punished and even executed those that didn’t follow fundamentalist guidelines. Obviously, women were treated as second class citizens.

    I realize, of course, there is a major problem when the US decides to strive for goals besides simply ending mistreatment of another nation’s citizens.

    1. I get the rationale behind the US invasion of Afghanistan, at least from the US’ point of view. 9/11 was a justifiable casus belli if ever there was one and the Taliban paid the price for their dabbling with Al-Qaeda and international terrorism. However the manner of the invasion and subsequent occupation I disagree with. Iraq on the other hand was just pure madness, driven more by the intellectually hollow “war on terror” strategies of Dick Cheney and those around him than the self-deluding belief in “weapons of mass destruction” in Saddam Hussein’s hands. Not to mention getting American corporate control of Iraqi oil wells, some weird personal animosity towards Saddam Hussein by Bush Jr., and some hefty “End Times” Christian fundamentalist nonsense.

      The Taliban are already in power in Kabul or at least post-invasion break-away branches of the original movement. The current regime is dire. Of course Hamid Karzai was possibly worse, a kleptomaniac of epic proportions, so maybe one thing has got slightly better.

      Here’s the thing. The US invaded Iraq for weapons of mass destruction that it knew didn’t exist because a handful of fanatics wanted to believe they did exist. Yet the US will not invade North Korea for weapons of mass destruction it knows exist – even the fanatics. Instead the Congress hawks are now focused on Iran. A country that is the de facto ally of the US in Iraq and Syria. And which has no weapons of mass destruction.

      Ideology-driven geo-politics take insanity to a new level 😦

      1. I agree that the given reasons behind the US invasion of Iraq were specious at best, but does the US have any obligation to protect the citizens of a nation whose leaders are intent on rooting out opposition through any means possible, including murder? If this scenario had played out in, say, Somalia or Burkina Faso, where US business interests have little to gain, would the American government be justified in intervening?

  3. Cotton Boll, check out the Vice documentary This is What Victory Looks Like. The USA’s local collaborators are pedophile warlords. The people there have hardly been protected. The USA’s done good things in the past such as helping with the take down of the Nazis, but other than that it could do more good by not giving weapons to fascist thugs like Saddam Hussein in the first place.

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