All the recrimination-filled reporting and commentary about how fast Afghanistan fell to the Taliban after President Biden made the courageous decision to finish withdrawing our troops misses a much more important story.
This story concerns why Americans can’t have nice things anymore while our main economic competitor China does — and is investing in a lucrative and influential future.
It’s the story of jettisoning the sensible Powell Doctrine of asking whether war is quickly winnable before rushing into military action in favor of chronic combat. Endless war creates enormous fortunes for investors in the military-industrial complex, enabled by jingoistic political cowardice in Washington.
For two decades our elected leaders foolishly spent our money trying to impose democracy at the point of a rifle in a country with no democratic culture or tradition.
To date, U.S. taxpayers have spent about $2.3 trillion on an undeclared war that cost 2,448 American troops their lives avenging about the same number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. More than 100,000 Afghans died in the 20-year war.
This butcher bill comes to more than $6,000 for each American man, woman and child. Our elected leaders borrowed all that money because of federal tax cuts in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2017.
Cutting taxes in a time of war is as dumb an idea as ever infected American politics.
America would be far better off today had Congress built a giant bonfire with all those greenbacks. Seriously.
That’s because the costs of this foolish enterprise will continue until the last eligible dependent of an Afghan combat veteran dies sometime near the dawn of the 23rd century.