After Toppling Al Qaeda, America Wasted a Staggering Amount of Money in Afghanistan
If there’s a perfect metaphor for the United States’ failed effort to build a capable state and military force in Afghanistan after toppling the Taliban, it’s probably the saga of the G-222 aircraft.
In 2008, as part of the ongoing effort to supply the newly formed Afghan Air Force with transport planes, the U.S. purchased 20 of the Italy-made Aeritalia G-222 planes for about $486 million and had them delivered to Kabul. Unfortunately, no one seemed to anticipate that the planes would have difficulty in the dusty environment of Central Asia. Less than five years after the fleet arrived, 16 of the planes were scrapped—for six cents per pound. (The other four were put into storage at a base in Germany.)
And that’s how the U.S. military turned nearly half a billion of taxpayer dollars into $32,000 of scrap metal.
That America’s post-9/11 military excursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were massively wasteful in terms of blood and treasure is not exactly a controversial opinion. An NBC News poll conducted last month found that 61 percent of Americans believe the war in Afghanistan was “not worth it.” Indeed, even President Joe Biden seems to agree—the effort was not serving any “fundamental national security interest of the United States,” he said last month after the last American troops finally departed from Afghanistan.
Still, reckoning with just how massively wasteful the conflict was is a necessary exercise—and one that will hopefully inform future U.S. foreign policy decisions. With any luck, the United States will survive another 20 years without an event like the ones that unfolded on September 11, 2001, but there will inevitably be future calls for military action. When they come, Afghanistan must be remembered not only as a military defeat but as a warning about the inevitable corruption and waste that come with any large-scale government project.
There is and probably never will be a full accounting of the estimated $2 trillion that America spent on the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—in fact, even that figure is overly rosy since it doesn’t account for the long-term interest costs incurred by the borrowing that was used to finance the wars. But the closest estimate we have comes from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which Congress created in 2008 to oversee the handling of a mere $140 billion appropriated for the nation-building phase of the Afghan misadventure. Since then, SIGAR has produced dozens of reports (mostly ignored by Congress) investigating money being wasted in Afghanistan—including the one detailing the G-222 aircraft mess.
As of December 2019, SIGAR had audited about $63 billion of Afghanistan reconstruction spending. Of that total, it conclu
Article from Latest – Reason.com