We Failed Afghanistan, Not the Other Way Around
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Matt Taibbi on Substack
Posted: August 22nd, 2021
From Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan, the pattern of American officials showering questionable political allies abroad with armfuls of cash is a long-established practice. However, the idea that this is the reason the “missions” fail in such places is just a continuation of the original propaganda lines that get us into these messes. It’s a way of saying the subject populations are to blame for undermining our noble efforts, when the missions themselves are often preposterous. The lion’s share of the looting is usually done by our own marauding contracting community. Contractors [in Afghanistan] made fortunes monstrously overcharging the taxpayer for everything from private security, to dysfunctional or unnecessary construction projects, to social programs that ... had no chance for success. The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) some years ago identified “$15.5 billion of waste, fraud, and abuse ... in our published reports and closed investigations between SIGAR’s inception in 2008 and December 31, 2017,” and added an additional $3.4 billion in a subsequent review. All told, “SIGAR reviewed approximately $63 billion and concluded that a total of approximately $19 billion or 30 percent of the amount reviewed was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse.” Thirty percent! If the overall cost of the war was, as reported, $2 trillion ... a crude back of the envelope calculation for the amount lost to fraud during the entire period might be $600 billion.