Americans have been shocked by reports of thousands of killed at least 170 people, including 13 troops. Some eyewitnesses told the BBC that “significant numbers” of those killed were shot dead by American and foreign forces.risking their lives to flee , whose militants swept through and returned to power on August 15. This was followed by a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (IS-KP) that
Even as UN agencies warn of an impending humanitarian crisis , the Treasury has frozen nearly all of the central bank’s $9.4 billion in foreign currency reserves, depriving the new government led by of funds it will desperately need in the coming months to feed its people and provide basic services. Under pressure from the Biden administration, the International Monetary Fund decided not to release $450 million in funds that were scheduled to be sent to to help the country cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
Afghanistan: A Final Nail in the Coffin of American Foreign Policy
The aid and recognition gave them “very considerable leverage — economic, diplomatic and political” over .and other Western countries have also halted humanitarian aid to . After chairing a G7 summit on on August 24, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that withholding
Western politicians couch this leverage in terms of human rights, but they are clearly trying to ensure that theirallies retain some power in the new government and that Western influence and interests do not end with the Taliban’s return. This leverage is being exercised in dollars, pounds and euros, but it will be paid for in lives.
US Spending in Afghanistan
To read or listen to Western analysts, one would think that the United States and its allies’ 20-yearwas a benign and beneficial effort to modernize the country, liberate women and provide health care, education and good jobs, and that this has all now been swept away by capitulation to . The reality is quite different and not so hard to understand.
The United States spent $2.26 trillion on its . Spending that kind of money in any country should have lifted most people out of poverty. But the vast bulk of those funds, about $1.5 trillion, went to absurd, stratospheric military spending to maintain the -led military occupation, drop tens of thousands of bombs and missiles, pay private contractors and transport troops, weapons and military equipment back and forth around the world for 20 years.
Since the United States fought this war with borrowed money, it has also cost half a trillion dollars in interest payments alone, which will continue far into the future. Medical and disability costs forsoldiers wounded and Iraq already amount to over $350 billion, and they will likewise keep mounting as the soldiers age. Medical and disability costs for both of those -led wars could eventually reach another trillion dollars over the next 40 years.
So, what about “rebuilding $144 billion for reconstruction since 2001, but $88 billion of that was spent to recruit, arm, train and pay the “security forces” that have now disintegrated, with soldiers returning to their villages or joining . Another $15.5 billion spent between 2008 and 2017 was, as per Al Jazeera, documented as “waste, fraud and abuse” by the Special Inspector General for Reconstruction.”? Congress appropriated
The crumbs left over, less than 2% of total ranked as among the most corrupt countries in the world.spending on , amount to about $40 billion, which should have provided some benefit to the in economic development, health care, education, infrastructure and humanitarian aid. But, as in Iraq, the government the installed was notoriously corrupt, and its corruption only became more entrenched and systemic over time. Transparency International (TI) has consistently
Western readers may think that this corruption is a long-standing problem in the country, as opposed to a particular feature of the noted that “it is widely recognized that the scale of corruption in the post-2001 period has increased over previous levels.” A 2009 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned that “corruption has soared to levels not seen in previous administrations.” Those administrations would include government that and NATO invasion forces removed from power in 2001, and the Soviet-allied socialist governments that were overthrown by the -supported precursors of al-Qaeda and in the 1980s, destroying the substantial progress they had made in education, health care and women’s rights.-led occupation, but this is not the case. TI
A 2010 report by Anthony H. Cordesman, a Pentagon official under Ronald Reagan, entitled “How America Corrupted ,” chastised the government for throwing gobs of money into that country with virtually no accountability. The New York Times reported in 2013 that every month for a decade, the CIA had been dropping off suitcases, backpacks and even plastic shopping bags stuffed with dollars for the president to bribe warlords and politicians.
Corruption also undermined the very areas that Western politicians now hold up as the successes of the occupation, like education and health care. The education system has been riddled with schools, teachers and students that exist only on paper. pharmacies are stocked with fake, expired or low-quality medicines, many smuggled in from neighboring Pakistan. At the personal level, corruption was fueled by civil servants like teachers earning only one-tenth the salaries of better-connected working for foreign NGOs and contractors.
Rooting out corruption and improving reported, the “has intentionally paid different armed groups and civil servants to ensure cooperation and/or information and cooperated with governors regardless of how corrupt they were… Corruption has undermined the . mission by fuelling grievances against the government and channelling material support to the insurgency.”lives has always been secondary to the primary goal of fighting and maintaining or extending its puppet government’s control. As TI
Poverty and Freezing Funds
The endless violence of the-led occupation and the corruption of the government boosted popular support for , especially in rural areas where three-quarters of live. The intractable poverty of also contributed to victory, as people naturally questioned how their occupation by wealthy countries like the United States and its Western allies could leave them in such abject poverty.
Well before the current crisis, the number of reporting that they were struggling to live on their current income increased from 60% in 2008 to 90% by 2018. A 2018 Gallup poll found the lowest levels of self-reported “well-being” that Gallup has ever recorded anywhere in the world. not only reported record levels of misery, but also unprecedented hopelessness about their future.
Despite some gains in education for girls, only a third of girls attended primary school in 2019 and only 37% of adolescent girls were literate. One reason that so few children go to school is that more than 2 million children between the ages of 6 and 14 have to work to support their poverty-stricken families.
Yet instead of atoning for their role in keeping most three-quarters of Afghanistan’s public sector and made up 40% of its total GDP.mired in poverty, Western leaders are now cutting off desperately needed economic and humanitarian aid that was funding
In effect, the United States and its allies are responding to losing the war by threateningand the people of with a second: economic war. If the new government does not give in to their “leverage” and meet their demands, our leaders will starve their people and then blame for the ensuing famine and humanitarian crisis, just as they demonize and blame other victims of economic warfare, from Cuba to Iran.
The $6 billion allocated for the now-defunct armed forces to humanitarian aid, instead of diverting it to other forms of wasteful military spending. It should encourage European allies and the IMF not to withhold funds. Instead, they should fully fund the UN 2021 appeal for $1.3 billion in emergency aid, which as of late August was less than 40% funded.should release the $9.4 billion in funds held in American banks. It should shift the
Rethinking Its Place
Once upon a time, the United States helped its British and Soviet allies to defeat Germany and Japan. The Americans then helped to rebuild them as healthy, peaceful and prosperous countries. For all America’s serious faults — its racism, its crimes against humanity in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and its neocolonial relations with poorer countries — it held up a promise of prosperity that people in many countries around the world were ready to follow.
If all the United States has to offer other countries today is the war, corruption and poverty it brought to, then the world is wise to be moving on and looking at other models to follow: new experiments in popular and social democracy; a renewed emphasis on national sovereignty and international law; alternatives to the use of military force to resolve international problems; and more equitable ways of organizing internationally to tackle global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate disaster.
Thecan either stumble on in its fruitless attempt to control the world through militarism and coercion, or it can use this opportunity to rethink its place in the world. Americans should be ready to turn the page on our fading role as global hegemon and see how we can make a meaningful, cooperative contribution to a future that we will never again be able to dominate, but which we must help to build.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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