Farewell to Afghanistan
|Monday, December 13,2010 15:54|
|By Sama Adnan|
The United States budget deficit for 2010 is 1.4 trillion dollars borrowed from China, 8 per cent of which was spent on the Afghanistan war alone. Over the past decade, the national debt has soared to 12.9 trillion dollars, more than a trillion spent in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a published report in August of 2010, the Afghanistan Study Group astutely pointed out that the United States government spends 100 billion dollars annually to fight a war in Afghanistan whose GNP is 14 billion dollars. The cost of the war in Afghanistan, now running into its 10th year, is neither justified by the security needs of the United States nor the wellbeing of the Afghan people. The Afghanistan Study Group recommended that the United States should withdraw American troops, while pushing for reconciliation between the Karazai government and moderate Taliban elements. A small fraction of the money currently spent on waging an aimless war can go to economic development in Afghanistan, where it is sorely needed. The report also recommended that the United States keep special forces to work with Afghan and Pakistan intelligence to target the small number of Al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, estimated to be around 100 individuals by US intelligence officials.
While a silver lining in the poll showed that the security situation has improved in the southern provinces since last year’s surge, two thirds of respondents view the economy as deteriorating even as security is enhanced. Most telling perhaps, a full two thirds believe that a good chunk of the United States’ annual 4 billion dollars for development in Afghanistan is siphoned off by corrupt politicians. This small fraction of the total 100 billion dollars annual bill of the Afghan war can properly aid in the development of Afghanistan if administered transparently to the people, rather than the Karazai government.
As President Obama cuts the wages of federal employees and Republicans threaten to interrupt the unemployment benefits of millions of Americans, the United States continues to hemorrhage billions of dollars a month in a senseless war, where many troops have perished. President Obama and Congress should push to include the Taliban in the Afghan government, prepare for a troops withdrawal, maintain strong intelligence ties with the Afghan government to capture the few Al-Qaeda operatives, and invest in the development of Afghanistan with the local population. Extricating the United States from this war, with its ever-shifting justifications, will be good for the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The only loser may turn out to be our Chinese bankers.
Dr Sama Adnan is executive director of NewPolicy.org and New Policy political action committee, an American lobby for Middle East peace.