America has spent more rebuilding Afghanistan than it spent rebuilding Europe under the Marshall Plan

After WWII, the US launched the Marshall Plan to help Europe rebuild, spending about $120B in inflation-adjusted dollars on the project, which lifted the war-stricken European nations out of disaster and launched them into post-war prosperity; the US has spent even more than that on rebuilding projects in Afghanistan since the official cessation of hostilities there, but Afghanistan remains a crumbling, corrupt, failed state where violence is rampant, opium exports are soaring, and soldiers and civilians alike are still dying.

Large-scale corruption persists, with Afghanistan third from the bottom in international rankings, ahead of only Somalia and North Korea. Adjusted for inflation, American spending to reconstruct Afghanistan now exceeds the total expended to rebuild all of Western Europe under the Marshall Plan; yet to have any hope of surviving, the Afghan government will for the foreseeable future remain almost completely dependent on outside support.

And things are getting worse. Although the United States has invested $70 billion in rebuilding Afghan security forces, only 63 percent of the country’s districts are under government control, with significant territory lost to the Taliban over the past year. Though the United States has spent $8.5 billion to battle narcotics in Afghanistan, opium production there has reached an all-time high.

For this, over the past 15 years, nearly 2,400 American soldiers have died, and 20,000 more have been wounded.

The Never-Ending War in Afghanistan 171 [Andrew J Bacevich/New York Times]

(via Super Punch)

Notable Replies

  1. "Re-" building? As in trying to restore the country to its pre-war splendor?

    One of the reasons Rumsfeld was so eager to get to Iraq is that he wanted to bomb a country that wasn't already blasted back to the bronze age.

  2. The difference, of course, is that the European countries helped by the marshall plan had functional pre-existing governmental and social traditions and institutions in place, and governments that were seen as legitimate and that were organized to more or less function for the good of the nation. Graft, corruption, and incompetence were generally at low levels.

    In Afghanistan, which has been the victim of repeated colonial invasions over the past century, those institutions and traditions have been systematically destroyed by the invaders or by the strongmen who ruled in between the invasions... and as a result the only functioning government is quite thoroughly corrupt, kleptocratic, incompetent, and seen as illegitimate by a large portion of the populace.

  3. Narcotecture is still a thing in Kabul.

    NO VALUE for the US taxpayer: Lets break it down some...

    1. $486 million for 'deathtrap' aircraft that were later sold for $32,000

    2. $335 million on a power plant that used just 1 percent of its capacity

    3. Almost $500,000 on buildings that 'melted' in the rain

    4. $34.4 million on a soybean program for a country that doesn't eat soybeans

    5. One general's explanation why 1,600 fire-prone buildings weren't a problem

    6. A $600,000 hospital where infants were washed in dirty river water

    7. $36 million on a military facility that several generals didn't want

    8. $39.6 million that created an awkward conversation for the U.S. ambassador

    9. $3 million for the purchase — and then mystery cancellation — of eight boats

    10. $7.8 billion fighting drugs — while Afghans grow more opium than ever

    11. $7.8 million on a nearly-empty business park

    12. $81.9 million on incinerators that either weren't used or harmed troops

    Who is actually profiting from Afganistan other than the nacotrafficers? China. Mining the country for all it's worth.

    oh, and yeah the Taliban are making bank too:

    "Global Witness’ research covered two of the most important minerals in Badakhshan, lapis lazuli and tourmaline –semi-precious decorative stones mainly exported to China."

    Local resources and monies that could be used to rebuild Afghanistan are being diverted to China and other places. Meanwhile the US gets the bill.

  4. Even after the experience of Nazism (where graft, corruption, and incompetence were not insignificant), Germany's base political-economic culture was able to re-emerge in a way that's almost impossible in Afghanistan, where the political-economic culture has been chronically debased by the collection of thuggish tribal headmen, priests, and colonial meddlers who've "governed" the place for thousands of years.

    It was the core mistake of the neoconservative signatories to the PNAC manifesto that liberal democracy could take hold in Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries naturally, let alone at gunpoint.

  5. Depends on the city. Dresden was basically reduced to smoking rubble.

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